Solitude. The wilderness. The lonely place. The desert place. An isolated place.
Do these words trigger a rush of joy and enthusiasm for you? Likely not, being completely alone is something we all try to avoid. Now, I can almost hear the response, "O no, Nathan, you've got me all wrong. I love being alone. I love my alone time!" I am not talking about being alone with Netflix, at a coffee shop, or a resort somewhere. I am talking about being alone with yourself, your thoughts and with God.
In Luke 5:16 it says, "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." The word wilderness comes from the Greek word "eremos" and is translated into English as wilderness, desert, desolate, or isolated. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus withdrew to an isolated, deserted wilderness space on a regular basis. There is even one story that reveals to us that Jesus was driven to this place by the Holy Spirit.
Why would the Holy Spirit drive Jesus to a desolate place, and why would Jesus choose to go there willingly? That is the question we are going to tackle this Sunday. The desolate place is often hard; it is a place where we wrestle with our deepest, darkest questions and struggles, but it is a place that will give us incredible clarity if we go there willingly with God. God often speaks and gives clarity, focus and direction when we are in the desolate place.
This week, read Mark 1:21-39. This story is one very long, successful day of ministry for Jesus and His disciples. Notice how Jesus begins his very next day (v. 35-39). After a long and successful day, Jesus rises early the next morning, before everyone else, and goes to a desolate place to pray. He is seeking the will and direction of His Father. When His disciples find Him, they are filled with excitement, "Jesus...the crowds love you! You are a hit! They want you to come back and do more ministry..." Jesus is not concerned with what the crowds want; He is singularly focused on the will of His Father, and He knows the will of His Father because He has just spent time with Him in the desolate place.
I can't wait to dive into the Scriptures with you this Sunday!