We've been talking about spiritual formation for awhile now. With this groundwork laid, we'll turn to discussing the spiritual disciplines, or soul-training exercises, we can do.
So often we wish we could be more like Jesus and we even try to be more like Jesus, but we neglect to do the kinds of things that Jesus did.
Once again, let's remember: Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived. Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
So what did Jesus do? Is there anything Jesus did that we can do as well?
In a word, yes.
We don't know everything there is to know about Jesus's life on earth. But we do know some things. If we give Jesus his due, we'll consider that he lived his life on earth just as he meant to do. He could have chosen any time, any place, any situation for his time on earth. He lived his life as a man on purpose--both to give his life as a ransom for us and to live his life as an example for us. He is our Savior and our Teacher.
So in the next few days we'll be talking about some things that Jesus did as he lived his life here on earth. We'll also talk about some habits that Jesus-followers down through the centuries have found helpful.
To begin with, let's look at a practice that Jesus practiced often:
Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But even a quick look at the gospels will show that Jesus often "withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5:16). I think perhaps it is easy for us to focus on what Jesus did when he retreated from the crowds and overlook the important fact that he sought solitude.
Of course, Jesus was not completely alone during these times of solitude, and that is precisely the point: he withdrew from the company of other people so that he could commune freely with his Father. The discipline of solitude is not valuable just because it gives us a break from being around other people (although that's sometimes very helpful!). It's valuable because it gives us freedom to be only with God--and what riches await when we clear our minds to focus only on him!
You may be at a stage of life when solitude sounds like a unimaginable luxury. I can remember times when my children were small that I felt like I had no time to myself at all. If I'm honest, though, I'll admit that there were times when the kids were asleep or safely occupied in an activity that didn't require my presence every minute. Perhaps the same is true for you. Of course, it's tempting to fill every such moment with activity--to do a project, catch up on a chore, call a friend, read some blogs, or whatever. Those activities are all good, of course. But your soul needs some space to breathe, and that's best found in solitude.
I invite you to see what you might gain from taking some time to be alone with God. I know you have a long list of things to do and places to go. I know you may feel as if you can't possibly afford to spend time being still. But I urge you to try it, even if it's for just a few minutes. Remember the words of the psalmist: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Leave your to-do list and quiet your heart. Be still and know--for he IS God, and he will be so glad to spend time alone with you.