As you read the gospels, you might notice that on a number of occasions during his ministry Jesus makes the decision to ‘withdraw’ from the public limelight, and even from the company of his disciples.
He goes to a quiet place, either a mountain, a lake or the wilderness and spends some time in contemplation and prayer.
To us this might seem counter-intuitive.
His following is increasing. His reputation is on the rise. His message is reaching hundreds of people. We would want to ride that wave, make the most of the moment and keep going.
Jesus makes it a priority to withdraw. He takes time out. He stops what he is doing. He runs the risk of losing momentum and missing out on new followers.
He must have thought solitude and prayer were significant.
One of the things I love about the Bible is it’s ability to speak to the human condition in the here and now, regardless of the fact it was written thousands of years ago.
We live in an age when the need to withdraw is greater than ever.
The tyranny of work phones, notifications and instant messaging means that we are rarely out of reach or switched off.
We are the generation of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), unable to unplug from our social media outlets in case something happens.
As Millennials, studies show many of us suffer from anxiety if we are separated from our devices for more than a couple of minutes.
The result of never switching off? Stress. Burn out. Exhaustion.
There is huge value in taking time to be still, to meditate, to centre ourselves, to spend time with God.
It gives us space to recharge, to refocus, to listen to what our heavenly father might be saying to us.
Jesus wanted to empower his disciples in the art of quiet attentiveness; “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
Sensing God’s grace instead of anxiously waiting for ‘likes’ is what we need.
Why not carve out some time to withdraw?
Listen for the whisper of the divine.