Do you remember the last time you experienced a quiet place?
I’m coming off of a really busy week as I shared in meetings at the White House, in the halls of Congress and as a Oklahoma delegate at the National Prayer breakfast as part of my work with Feed the Children.
To make all of these things happen, the pace was crazy around our house. We got up too early. We went to bed too late. And we didn’t eat at home every night (if any night at all).
And, it was a week where the title of the sermon I’d knew I’d be preaching last Sunday called, “Finding a Quiet Place” simultaneously felt like just the message I craved to hear and convicted me at the same time.
Mark 1:29-39 had a word for me.
For Jesus, in his early days of ministry, he “hit the ground running” as the expression goes and “there was no rest for the weary.”
He recruited his disciples. He organized them into a group. Together they, attended services at a synagogue and Jesus healed a person with an “unclean spirit” on the Sabbath.
And by Mark 1:29, Jesus leaves the synagogue and goes to the house of Simon where he lives with his wife and his mother-in-law. We learn that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Verse 31 says that Jesus takes her woman by the hand and lifts her up to healing.
So, without taking a breath, Jesus is at it again. Word spreads about this miracle. Other sick ones or possessed with evil spirits come to find Jesus. They seek healing too. Everybody wants something.
And: “the whole city was gathered around the door.”
Was Jesus claustrophobic? I hope not!
People gathering for miles and miles, desperate to see him, desperate for a cure, desperate most of all for seeing, knowing and believing they were loved.
They come at sundown.
And we get no indication that Jesus turns any way. They stay for hours. Burning the midnight oil . . .
Can you imagine how Jesus felt after the last one left his door?
Sure, it was exciting.
Sure, it was full of the power of God. Lives were changed forever!
Sure, it was what he came to earth to do.
But, remember Jesus came to earth with a body like yours and mine—a body that required food and water and rest, especially after long days.
And, so I know Jesus must have been exhausted.
The kind of exhaustion that would have made anyone want to sleep in the next day or take the rest of the week off or not answer the door the next time someone knocked on it.
But this is not what Jesus does.
No, verse 35 tells us this, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place and there he prayed.”
Jesus counteracts the pace of life that might have reflected back to him: “Go, go. Do more. Do more. You’re only going to be on earth for a short time. Make every minute with people count.” And seeks out a quiet place.
And in this quiet place, Jesus centers his life on its greater purpose.
Do you remember the last time you were on an airplane? There’s the standard, the plane is about to take off, speech, isn’t there?
Buckle seatbelts. Put up your tray tables. Store away your carry-on bags.
And then, if there’s a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling.
But, this part of the speech comes with it’s own unusual instructions. When it comes to the oxygen masks, what are we told to do?
If we are sitting with children, we’re supposed to put our own masks on before putting on theirs. And such seems so counterintuitive to our protective love, doesn’t it?
Yet, we learn we’re asked to do this because if we’re running out of air, there’s no way we’d have breath to assist them.
And in the same way, such is the principal Jesus modeled for us.
He says: put on your own oxygen mask first.
Find your quiet place. Find your deserted place.
Slow down. Reflect. Renew. Do all of this before you charge forward into another commitment, another to do list or another email.
It’s so much easier to ignore that tug of the Spirit on our hearts.
We make one more phone call. We read one more chapter in a book. We watch one more hour of TV.
And by the end, there’s not space for a quiet place.
But, if we are going to follow in the way of Jesus, then finding our quiet place is a must.
Though some churches might tell you otherwise, I don’t think there’s some magic formula for finding quiet places to be with God.
For some of us, it might be rising before the sun, sitting on the couch by a window watching the sunrise with prayer list in hand.
For others of us, it might be taking a walk in our neighborhood midday with the dog, breathing in and out deeply being still enough to know that God is God.
Or, for others it might be simply pausing before you let your toes touch the floor to say “Thank you God for this day. Use me in it.”
For me, one of my favorite quiet places is in an oversized chair in a room surrounded by my favorite books with a great view of the trees in the yard with the squirrels who run up and down the branches at rapid pace, depending on the season.
I love going to this chair as many mornings as I can (though not too early).
I bring my breakfast to this chair. I sometimes read, sometimes write but often am just still.
It’s often a battle to get myself there—as much as I love it! Oh, I can come up with thousand excuses NOT to be quiet.
But, in my heart, I know it’s the only way for me to find communion with God.
Where’s your quiet space?