“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
With all the busyness in this fast paced world, it can become increasingly difficult to get alone with God. And when you’re raising a family, a few minutes of time alone with God can be slim to none. If you’re like me you like to worship God with your eyes closed and tune out the rest of the world so you can give God your full attention. Not an easy thing to do when you’re seldom alone.
A few years ago, my alone time with God consisted of going up to my bedroom, shutting the door and completely ignoring my beloved children’s relentless banging on the door to get my attention (they were teenagers at the time, so no need to call Social Services). “Mom – I’m starving, and there’s nothing here to eat.” “Mom, it’s my turn for the computer and they won’t get off.” “Mom…” well, you get the picture.
Of course I would lay down the law beforehand – “No one is to bother me under any circumstances. I need my God time so I don’t kill all of you!” But none of that did any good. I would be in the middle of my prayers, when I would have to stop to feed the poor hungry children, or break up World War III. Oddly, when I would finally get back upstairs to God, I could no longer feel His presence. So I would yell to my kids “Now look what you did - you scared God away!”
I think the reason I need to have God all to myself stems from growing up in a large family. At times it was a real battle to have anything for myself. There were always other people to consider and to share with. There were times at the dinner table where we had to draw our weapons in order to get enough food to eat. I remember on one occasion my parents bought a gallon of ice cream; a rare treat at our house. We lined up for our ice cream cones, and then I wittingly watched as my brothers and sisters furiously licked their cones like they were in an ‘all you can eat’ competition, while I, with colossal determination (the likes of which higher powers possess) licked mine slowly in order to be the only remaining cone holder. But the fates were cruel. They all ran back to the kitchen and received seconds, so I quickly downed mine and ran to the kitchen for another one, only to find out the ice cream was all gone.
I think I’m in good company wanting God all to myself. According to Luke 5:16, Jesus wanted the same thing. He often withdrew to lonely places to pray. If we’re not taking time each day to have that personal one-on-one time with God, then what good are we the rest of the day? What do we have to offer our families and neighbors apart from God? Even Jesus needed His daily fill of God, so He could go back to the crowds empowered with the Holy Spirit.
I’m preaching to myself here. Truth is, for every hour spent with people, I need two hours to myself. I’m a bit of a recluse. Maybe that’s why it’s seemingly easy for me to have that God-time in my prayer closet. I’ve discovered that God is a lot easier to get along with than most people. But if I know God (and I think I do) He wants His love to be shared…not hoarded.
One day as I was driving alone in my car, my thoughts drifted off to something a famous evangelist once said. He dreamt that he was in heaven, and there were thousands of people lined up before the throne, waiting to see God. The thought of having to wait for any amount of time to see God alarms me. So I said to Him “God? When I get to heaven will I ever be able to be alone with You?” Just then I sensed God saying “You’re alone with me right now, but please don’t talk to Me with your eyes closed when you’re driving!”
Have you been to that lonely place lately?