I have a friend whose son asked him, “Dad, what takes you so long in the bathroom?” The friend laughed and told his son, “Wait until you become a parent. Then you’ll know.” The troubles of the world and the responsibility of parenthood can be overwhelming and, as that father realized, sometimes you just need to be alone. As a parent, going into the bathroom and closing the door, once the kids learn to respect privacy, may be the only way to be alone. Even five minutes alone can be a glorious break. The world today doesn’t lend itself to this gift of solitude. Music is piped in everywhere, although some of us can’t hear it because our headphones are on, making sure we listen to our own music. Our lives have become more complicated and we have interactions with people in person or over the computer. Our cell phones follow us everywhere and even vacation times to “get away from it all” don’t happen because someone is bound to call and interrupt our time alone.
And so, we dream of alone time, but never find it because there’s always one more thing to do. One more person to see. One more phone call to make. Jesus had dealt with a day like that. He went to the synagogue to worship and ended up casting demons out of a man. Then, they got back to Simon Peter’s house to eat and his mother in law was sick, so Jesus had to heal her so that she could prepare the food. Then, after sundown – Sabbath, remember – everyone in the town brought someone who was sick to Jesus so that He could heal them. He woke up early the next morning, and headed out for some alone time, some solitude. “At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” (Luke 4:42 NIV)
I can’t help but wonder what Jesus must have thought when He saw, or heard the people coming after they found Him. If I were Jesus, I’d probably be thinking something like, “I wish I had a drachma to give to these people, so I could buy them a clue, and maybe they’d understand that I want to be alone.” Jesus would have been too kind to say anything like that, though. I’m sure He engaged them in conversation. Perhaps He told them that He’d gotten off to be alone before He embarked on His journey to continue proclaiming the good news. That worried these seekers. They had a better idea for Jesus. They wanted Him to stay with them. They probably made Him a pretty good financial offer – He could set up shop as a teacher and healer, and as people came from all over the country to get healed, they could all make some money. We don’t know that for sure, of course, but money seems to be used universally to entice people and they really wanted Jesus to stay.
Jesus, meanwhile, needed that solitude to prepare Him for the journey ahead. He was embarking on the path that would lead to His death in a few years. He’d be proclaiming the gospel. That kind of a journey requires spiritual strength; it involves resolve. Those “alone times” with God gave Him the resolve to embark and then continue on His journey that would ultimately lead to the cross. For most of us, the journey God takes us on won’t involve a cross, or even death as a result of our faith. Our journey will involve tough decisions that will test our faith. It will involve difficulties in life that may seem impossible to bear without God’s help. This is why it’s so important to have time alone with God where we sit in silence and seek His presence in our lives. When we are with Him, we can get through just about anything. So if you need to, shut the bathroom door behind you and enjoy the solitude with God.
Lord, there are so many interruptions in life today that it’s hard to stay focused on You. Help me to find the time for solitude. Help me to experience Your presence in those quiet times.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.