“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” — Luke 5:16
9 words that the reader may completely skip over, in anticipation for reading more of Jesus’ impactful ministry here on Earth. 9 words that offer us a glimpse into how Jesus operated in full-time ministry. These 9 words could totally change the way we manage our schedules and day-to-day tasks.
This verse may seem simple, but it holds a powerful truth that Christians tend to forget. Without context, this verse may feel direct and void of practical application. However, just one verse before this, it says: Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
If you are a follower of Christ and if you have given Him your life, you are now in full-time ministry. Full-time ministry work is hard and gritty. It involves loving imperfect people and doing our best to point them to their Savior. Sometimes the work is very rewarding, such as when that young woman finally turns her life over to the Lord, or that older man humbles himself and makes Christ the Lord of his life. However, this work can become tiresome, wearisome, and even burdensome if we are not actively looking for ways for God to fill us up.
Jesus was not sitting around twiddling his thumbs and waiting for someone to pass by who needed His help. No, Jesus was among the crowds of people teaching and healing. Throngs of people were constantly in need of Jesus’ power and grace, so they followed Him wherever He went.
Jesus was taking part in real, raw ministry with the people around Him.
This work was good and holy, but Jesus knew the limitations of the human body. He knew that operating in full-time ministry while the gas tank was empty would do no good to those around Him. So, in the midst of doing good things, Jesus slipped away to be alone with God.
There were still crowds of people begging to be healed. There were still dying people who needed to know the love of God. There were still widows who needed encouragement. There were still children who needed wisdom.
But Jesus paused, and went away.
The verse does not say that Jesus simply went away to “veg” out or goof off with His friends. No, this rest was intentional and a refreshment for the soul. Jesus went away, to a quiet place away from the crowds, to pray and commune with the Father. These retreats were essential in Jesus’ ministry. Often times he went to the wilderness or the mountains or a secluded garden to get away from the busyness and just spend time with God.
In our full-time ministry, do we take the time to retreat?
Do we take the time to put the business of ministry aside, step away, and commune with God on a regular basis? The harvest will always be there. The lost souls will always be there. But to be effective in our ministry to the lost and weary, we ourselves cannot be lost or weary.
It is vital to step away to a place like Glorieta and become strengthened with God’s power before we can go back to the throngs of lost souls and do the work of the Lord.
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