Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea. Luke 4:42-44
Jesus repeatedly finds time for quiet, time for isolation with the Father. Honestly, if Jesus can do it—with all the crowds seeking him out—what excuse could we possibly come up with for our schedules being too full? For us finding no time? I have so much on my plate, so many responsibilities and things to do, but there are no crowds screaming for my time, no demands so lofty or varied as what was asked of Jesus.
This was Jesus’ practice; his habit. He found time to get away, to be alone. And we know from other places where this exercise is spoken of in the gospels that Jesus did so to pray. He was communing with the Father.
What is so compelling to me here is what he gains from this time apart. He is gaining clarity. He is gaining the Father’s vision for making decisions. The verses preceding these in Luke 4 show a Jesus who is doing the miraculous and doing it on a grand scale. He is healing, he is restoring, he is setting people free from physical, emotional, and spiritual bondage. What could be better? Surely he should spend the rest of his days on earth continuing this until all within reach are healed. Shouldn’t he?
Jesus is doing a good thing. He is doing a right thing. He is beating back the affects of sin and corruption, destroying the result of our depravity by making whole those who are broken. But then he gets away, he gets himself apart from the good things he is doing to seek the Father, and he comes back clear on his next move. Clear on his calling to go and do something else; something other than the good thing he was doing.
Sometimes the good things we are doing aren’t the best things God is calling us to.
Sometimes God has a different plan for us. Not because the things we are engaged in are bad, but because God has something more for us. Something different. How could Jesus, in the face of those broken people who are begging him not to leave, turn from them and go? How could anything be more important than meeting the needs of those hurting people?
He could go because he had spent time connecting with the Father. Time apart from all the distractions of the good, to find the best. Standing far off in the present time it is easy for us to be glad and grateful that he went on from there. Easy to be relieved because we now have all the other teachings, all the other miracles in other places to learn from. And most importantly, we have the sacrifice of his life for our eternal life. His death for our forgiveness. But in that moment it could have been hard to see the good in his leaving; especially had we been standing in the crowd. Most certainly if we were there begging for temporary healing.
If ever there was a clear example of our need for time along with God, this is it. Clarity for the journey may sometimes only come when we’ve spent time with the one we are journeying towards. There are so many good things to be done, we need to seek out what the best things are. What has God designed us for, called us to, put in place for us?
Time alone in prayer gives a more clear vision. It can give us the Father’s eyes and heart for our own trek towards him. Jesus comes away from isolation with the Father and he comes saying, “…that is why I was sent…” The next steps are clear, the path laid out, the vision captured. I’m not implying that Jesus didn’t know before this what he should be doing, but simply that he came away with a sense of urgency and conviction. And in truth, we don’t have the clarity Jesus started with. Most of us don’t have any real conviction about our steps. We need the Father’s vision, the Father’s heart. We need the Father.
It is time to set aside too busy and too distracted for some time, just a little time to sit with the Father. Time to listen, time to lean in and just be with the one who calls us and saves us and sends us. Time to see the best and not just the good.