“He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.
When evening came, He was there alone.”
I sometimes wonder how many words I gloss over when I’m reading Scripture.
How many precious gems do I overlook, because to my untrained (and often insensitive or hurried or sin-blinded) eyes, they just don’t seem very important?
They fade into the background, seeming to lack significance.
This is one of those verses with a lot of small words that are easy to neglect. But it is overflowing with truths for me – and perhaps, for you.
Spending Time With God
“He went up on a mountainside…to pray.”
Lesson #1: Be intentional.
When Jesus was on this earth, He was intentional about spending time with His Father.
I’m not sure why He chose a mountain. Did the majestic view of His creation (John 1:1,3) remind Him of their time together? In His very human flesh, did He feel just a little closer to God up there? Was the remote location simply the only place He could be alone?
It’s interesting to speculate on His choice, but the most important detail is that He made a choice.
the delight of His heart…
the apple of His eye.
Can you imagine what it was like for Jesus, God made flesh, when He was here?
When I consider how much He surely missed His Father, I have a hard time believing that spending time with God was something Jesus had to discipline Himself to do.
It wasn’t something for which He mustered the willpower.
It wasn’t written on His “to-do list” every day, waiting for the moment when it was happily checked off the list.
I have a feeling it was what He longed for.
I think it was probably what He wanted to be doing all the time.
And then, try to imagine how difficult it would be to minister to a bunch of messed up sinners – no, more than that. Belligerent, rebellious enemies of God is more like it.
And to know exactly how every detail of that death would play out.
And at whose hands.
And that even those who called themselves your friends would betray you and deny you – and that all but one would run and hide at the moment of truth.
And knowing all that, having to minister, serve, heal, touch, teach, love the very ones who would utterly forsake you in your hour of greatest grief.
Jesus was completely omnipotent as God made flesh, but I can’t help but believe that Jesus’ time with His Father was somehow a source from which He derived emotional strength for His ministry. Perhaps He even craved some reminders of why He came and of Who He was. Not that He ever forgot these things – but sometimes, as humans, isn’t it nice to be reminded?
Lesson #2: Be alone.
Jesus sought solitude to be alone with His Father.
This beautiful paradox is one of the sublime joys of the Christian life: alone, but never alone.
When I physically remove myself from other tasks or relationships for a while, taking time alone to be with the Creator of the universe and the Lover of my soul, it pours Living Water into my parched heart – water which bubbles up until it overflows onto every other thing and every other person in my life.
I need to be alone with my God. But being alone requires effort. Particularly in these days of smart phones and social media and second-by-second updates.
And in my days as Mom to many, being alone is a state I must seek diligently.
I must guard it carefully.
And sometimes I must fight for it ruthlessly.
I must fight my laziness that keeps me in bed longer than I truly need. Fight my obsession with the latest online feed or update or status. Fight my apathy that keeps me from caring enough to make the effort to be alone with God.
But when that fight is won, it’s always, always worth it.
“When evening came, He was there alone.”
Lesson #3: Be consumed.
Humanly speaking, when evening comes, I’m ready to eat dinner. Or I’m preparing for bed. I’m taking care of my body’s needs. But when Jesus went on that mountain to pray, the wording of the verse almost seems to indicate that He lost track of time.
He was so wrapped up in communing with His Father, time just stopped mattering.
The needs of His very human body – which certainly experienced hunger, fatigue, pain, and thirst – were bypassed, giving preference to the need of His soul to commune with His Father.
When is the last time I experienced this? When I’m spending time with my precious Lord, does time cease to exist?
Do I get so wrapped up in my time with Him that before I know it, solitude is over and service is beckoning, and I can’t help but be just a little disappointed, because like the very best of friends, there was more I wanted to tell Him and more I wanted to hear from Him?
Sweet Jesus, please give me a heart like Yours, which intentionally sought time alone with our Father. Which drew strength on the mountain for Your time in the trenches, reveling in that relationship to the point that the hands of time seemed to just…
I don’t know about you, but Jesus’ example inspires me to be intentional about getting alone with God and about being consumed with His presence. Click here for some great ideas about infusing fresh wind into your relationship with God.