Retreat by the Sea?
Most everything about it arouses my senses: the sounds, the smell, the air, the open skies above. Being near the water fills my soul and quiets my spirit. Jesus often went out to the Sea of Galilee to retreat from the crowds. Having been there, I am thankful I can envision her many moods--smooth like glass or rippling with a breeze and then finally topped with angry whitecaps under a driving rain. Mark describes how people traveled from all around, as far as a hundred miles away, to follow Jesus. Why? Clearly, they wanted something from him—healing, freedom from torment, and his message of truth and wisdom…his love. Hmmm, how about you and me? Why do we follow Jesus? [think a moment] O, it must be more than what we can get from him! With no peace or quiet to be had near the water, Jesus moved to a nearby mountain to get some relief. Which mountain he climbed we are not sure, but once there, Jesus calls his 12 disciples to himself. Ever mindful of his purpose, Jesus does what it takes to stay on course-- in this case, selecting 12 men he would disciple and train, 12 men he would do life with. These disciples were the “A” team, Jesus’ best plan to establish the Church, and what it should look like. Like Jesus, these men would live out their God-given purpose: teaching of God’s love and his desire for relationship with every person. All their lives, they would talk about the sacrificial life and death of the One they loved—the One they had seen teach and heal, hug and hold, laugh and weep. The names of the twelve are listed (their familiar names I have bolded): Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); and Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him1. Twelve men. Interesting how several names we know well—most we do not. Mark 3.7-19 Jesus has his inner circle now and is ready to go, though there will be much with which he must contend. How to stay focused. Jesus got up while it was still dark, left the house, and got alone to pray,2 Mark noted early on. ‘Watch and learn, Girl,’ I say to myself as I read. ‘Imitate this practice of Jesus.’ Unlike Jesus though, most of us do not have to leave our homes in the dark to get alone to pray; however, we must determine it is of great value to our lives and then be intentional about doing it. Some of us are great starters, but . . . then the wheels fall off. Or we have some grand experience that launches our faith, but . . . but then what happens? By way of example, imagine this next scenario with me. On my recent trip to Israel, it only took a day or two until all of us were fully engaged and wanting to experience God personally. Though each of us came for a different reason, he could not miss the presence of God among the people of God in the place where God had chosen to birth the Messiah. Each of us, many of us strangers from the outset, felt closer to God and we loved it. However, then. we. came. home. Oh, and coming home is no small matter—international travel, jetlag, sickness is no joke. By the time we woke up from our fog some six days later, the footsteps of Jesus seemed like a mirage in our rearview mirrors. Did it even happen? And is it possible to reclaim what we felt/experienced whilst there? Is it possible to get back to where we felt the presence of God near? Yes, daily. Only instead of having a guide, you are your own cruise director. Because you long for that life-empowering closeness to God, you can get intentional, plan the time and place you will meet with him. You, my friend, have the privilege of meeting up with the God of the Universe in the morning, growing in relationship with him. (‘need some ideas of what to do then? hit ‘reply’ and ask me) It seems that Jesus’ times of retreat were essential to him. Whether by the sea or on the mountain or in a garden, Jesus' time alone with the Father fed his soul, set the course for his day. In this way, we are just like Jesus. Hmmm...yes. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You!3 Morning by Morning, Pat Barrett, 3+ minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKjqgtnG740 Christine The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 12
1 – Mark 3.16-19 2 – Mark 1.35 3 - Psalm 63.1