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Jesus and Solitude (23 October)

Morning Encounter:

Introduction

What comes to mind when you hear the word solitude? Do you think of loneliness and isolation? Or perhaps a blissfully quiet moment by a still lake, away from noise and distraction? Whether we love the idea or hate it, to cultivate a deep relationship with God, we need time away from other people. As Henri Nouwen wrote, “without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.” Let’s explore why that might be.

Read:

Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. When they got there, he told them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

Jesus took along Peter and the two brothers, James and John. He was very sad and troubled, and he said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with me.”

Jesus walked on a little way. Then he knelt with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.”

He came back and found his disciples sleeping. So he said to Peter, “Can’t any of you stay awake with me for just one hour? Stay awake and pray that you won’t be tested. You want to do what is right, but you are weak.”

Again Jesus went to pray and said, “My Father, if there is no other way, and I must suffer, I will still do what you want.”

Jesus came back and found them sleeping again. They simply could not keep their eyes open. He left them and prayed the same prayer once more.

Finally, Jesus returned to his disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? The time has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to sinners. Get up! Let’s go. The one who will betray me is already here.”

Matthew 26.36-46

Reflect:

It is mind blowing that we have an insight into how Jesus related to God the Father through the Holy Spirit. How better to learn how to interact with God ourselves? Throughout his three year public ministry, Jesus often withdrew to be alone with God: from 40 days at the outset, to snatched early mornings out in the mountains, to here, in the Garden of Gethsemane as he faces his imminent crucifixion. He needs his friends. But he also needs to be alone with his father.

Respond:

Here, now, in this moment, standalone before God. Become aware of his presence, and be still.

Midday Meditation:

'In the heart of a disciple, there is a desire, and there is a decision or settled intent. Having come to some understanding of what it means, and thus having ‘counted up the costs,’ the disciple of Christ desires above all else to be like him….The disciple is one who, intent upon becoming Christ-like and so dwelling in his ‘faith and practice’, systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end.'

(Dallas Willard, The Great Omission)

Evening Reflection:

'My child, I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of trouble. Come to Me when all is not well with you. Your tardiness in turning to prayer is the greatest obstacle to heavenly consolation, for before you pray earnestly to Me you first seek many comforts and take pleasure in outward things. Thus, all things are of little profit to you until you realize that I am the one Who saves those who trust in Me, and that outside of Me there is no worth-while help, or any useful counsel or lasting remedy.”'

(Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)
 

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