What is the rhythm of your life? Is it a quick paced Presto, a slow Adagio or something in between? Today our society wants everything yesterday. We no longer have the patience to wait for information or response from others. We have phones and computers that will give us a an answer as fast as your Internet connection will allow. We have come to expect that people and information are as close as your nearest phone, IPad or TV. Today’s world is more of a Molto Presto (very fast) than a Adagio gravé (a snail’s pace). But to what end? Are we really considering the effects of such a high-paced lifestyle?
Although my daily schedule is more laid back than it once was, I still realize I suffer the effects of our quick-paced world. I often feel alone and isolated and I look to my electronics to ease that pain. Oh sure looking at Facebook or playing Words with Friends can ease the pain of isolation for a short time, but it doesn’t have any true lasting effect. While I am able to be patient, more often than not I lack patience. If I text a friend and have to wait more than 30 seconds for a response I become impatient and allow my inner voices to tell me I must just not matter to whomever it is I am trying to talk to. It is taking its toll on me. But is there a solution? As with most questions I ponder, I turned to my Bible for an answer. I found it in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus sought solitude with the Father.
In the book of Mark there are several instances in which Jesus sought solitude.
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. (Mark 1:16)
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. (Mark 2:13)
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. (Mark 3:13)
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. (Mark 7:24)
Why? Why was solitude so important?
1. Jesus was being tempted.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1:9-13)
2. To seek the Father’s direction for the busyness of the day.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. ( Mark 1:35-39)
3. To rest
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32)
After leaving them ( the crowds), he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. (Mark 6:46-47)
4. To prepare for a difficult and painful task.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” (Mark 14:32)
In reading the book of Mark I can certainly see that time alone was important to Jesus. And I understand its importance and benefit in my life. Much of the time I don’t even realize how caught up in the world I get or the damage it is doing to my soul until it is too late and I explode, become impatient and harsh with others, or implode by perseverating on negative self-talk and becoming withdrawn and lifeless. If I am to learn by Jesus’ example, what should it look like in my life?
We are all tempted and it comes in all kinds of forms. I am often tempted to be a glass-half-empty kind of girl. What would happen if the next time I am tempted to look on the not-so-bright-side of life I were to seek solitude with God and pray?
Life for all of us is busy. There are too many things on our To-Do Lists, too many people needing or wanting things from us, too much media, too many thoughts in our heads. Often I find myself spinning through my days, feeling that I have been pulled into the undertow of the day and not being able to make any forward progress. What would happen if, before the chaos of the day began, I sought solitude and the plan God wants for my day?
We all need rest. We need so many hours of sleep, but we also need rest throughout the day. What do you find restful? Is it sitting in front of the tv, reading a book, soaking in the tub? What about time alone just being? After this study I am challenged to look at the things I do in my life to find rest and analyze their effectiveness. Could it be that simply getting away from everything and everyone and just being is what I need?
We will all experience pain at some point in our lives. There is no escaping that. Pain and heartache can break us if we let it. How do we deal with the pains of life? Do we seek solitude? Do we seek God’s comfort? His healing? Most of us will probably never face anything as painful as being beaten and crucified on a cross. Yet in the face of such horrific pain Jesus sought solitude. He sought His Father. He sought prayer. What would happen if I followed the example of Jesus when I am faced with difficulty and pain?
I think I would characterize the rhythm of Jesus’ life as an Andante…a gently flowing walking tempo. I want my life rhythm to be an Andante too…not too fast and not too slow. As Goldilocks would say, “Just right”. What about you? What is the tempo of your life rhythm?