Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew's house, accompanied by James and John. Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.
That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn't let them say a word.
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.
I know the last thing that many of us want to think about is being alone. Since March 13, 2020 many of us have felt nothing but alone. The sense of isolation that many have felt has been difficult, to say the least. For some it has unveiled hurts and pain that were not known before. For others it has lead them down a path toward addiction.
Something that I have been noticing and paying more attention to is that in some ways, I have spent more time with people. There were seasons during the pandemic that I would be “on” with people for 6-8 hours at a time. These were sweet times and I don’t regret connecting in that way. But, I’ve begun realizing that just because I’m not physically present with people doesn’t mean that I’m not giving of myself to folks. Even if that giving is done via screen.
When we give of ourselves we must find ways to replenish and restore. I love verse 35 above, “While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.” Jesus, the god-man, sought restoration of his soul. Being fully human meant that he needed to engage in some spiritual practices to be sure that he had something to give people. In a very real sense he was practicing a “love of self.”
So often Christians focus on the necessity of giving ourselves to others. I write often about the necessity to practice what I call subversive-gracious-love. The thing is, we can’t do this unless we are taking time to practice self-care. We must do some things to insure that our souls are full and that we have something to offer.
We are broken cisterns. Due to our mortality we do not have endless resources of love, mercy, grace, compassion, and empathy to pour out. What we have is limited. Therefore, if we are going to follow our mandate to practice subversive-gracious-love then we must replenish those parts of ourselves that we give to others.
Jesus does this by getting away early in the morning, before dawn. If you’re a morning person, then by all means do so! I think that the early morning thing is descriptive than prescriptive. The prescription here is the importance to get away to pray and be in the presence of God.
These days, I’ve begun taking about 30 minutes with a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair to simply be quiet. I often focus my attention on the steam rising from the mug and the smell of the coffee. I try to be very attentive and simply try to experience God’s presence. Some mornings it’s great. Others I’m distracted and my mind is noisy. Today was one of those days. So many things are running through my mind that I wasn’t able to get to the quiet. That’s OK, I will try again tomorrow. You see, it’s in the discipline of the thing and it builds up over time. The more we practice restoration and replenishment the better we get at it.
I have friends who practice by doing yard work or running. Some seek solace and quiet as they drive. We need to find our “thing.” Whatever that “thing” is. We need to learn how to get to a secluded with God and restore our souls.
I would love to hear about your practice. Perhaps we can have some conversation about it? I would love it if you would comment below and perhaps reply to one comment from someone else. Thanks!