Ministry can be quite daunting at times. There are times when it seems that everyone needs your attention. People around you are in realneed and in moments of crisis. I have experienced this quite a bit recently. In one week I had a suicidal soldier, a soldier that lost his father, a soldier whose wife had been raped, a soldier whose’ wife had taken everything and wanted a divorce, soldiers with separation anxiety, as well as other less serious counselings. This did not include the regular responsibilities of my job, and all the other regular requirements of life. To say that we can get worn down and spiritually empty is quite the understatement. What do we do in seasons like this? How do we ensure that we have something to give as believers?
Jesus modeled the appropriate response on many occasions. One example of this was in Luke 4:31-44 it says, “And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
In the passage Jesus was preaching and teaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, and doing lots of ministry (very successfully). What did he do afterwards? In (v. 42) it says he went to a desolate place. To do what? This is the thing that we need to ensure we don’t miss. The wilderness was the quiet place Jesus went to be alone with God; it was a place of renewal and relationship with the Father. It was a place of renewal because this was where He reconnected with His Father and His Father’s will. It was a place of relationship because Jesus would speak directly and privately with His Father. After being wildly successful blessing people and doing lots of ministry, He was once again in focus with His Father’s plan and not simply His own. He could have stayed where He was and did His own thing and humanly speaking been very successful, but that wasn’t the will of the Father. He was to continue to go from village to village sharing the Gospel because that was His mission and God’s will.
If Jesus took time to be alone with God in a special place, then we must follow His example and do the same. If we don’t, then we will continue to be distracted by urgent things and lose our focus on the things most essential to our mission. If we are not careful we can get so busy doing good things that we lose focus on what God’s will is. Then our ministry loses its power and effectiveness. If our mission is simply being busy, this is not hard to achieve, but what is it that God is trying to accomplish? What is it that He desires to do in and through us?
In the next chapter (Luke 5), we see the pattern continue. Jesus is engaged in ministry, it says in Luke 5:12-16, “While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
We need to ensure that we are taking time to pray, read His word, and stay in tune with God. If we are not careful, we can get caught up in all there is to do and we lose focus of what is really important and that is doing God’s will and work, not ours. So no matter if life is slow or never ending, we need to make sure that we take time to be alone with Our Father and allow Him to pour into our lives, so that we in turn can pour into others. If we are empty there is nothing to pour out. None of us are immune to this and it is something that we need to constantly be mindful of. I encourage each of you to pause, get alone and quiet, and see what God has for you. For me, there is no better time, then intimacy, fellowship, and communion with God. We all desperately need it!!!!