… 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… Mark 1:35
It is that time when summer looms large in our hopes and imaginations. Rest, refreshment, renewal and recreation… what is our hope?
In Mark 1:35 I am reminded that the inner life of Jesus included a life of desert, wilderness and solitude. I heard Dave Kersten (newly elected Dean of North Park Theological Seminary) say once that “the majority of people minister/preach in deficit.” I have been chastened and challenged by this. The church has a Savior, and it is not me. Dave went on to say that “When we are in deficit we are doing violence to ourselves and our flock.” I wonder, is this only for pastors and ministers? I think not.
Vacation is a time and place for deep spirituality. What I mean, is that “desert” is a place of life if and only if it is a place of spirituality. “Jesus … went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” If I pray more, will I live better? Yes.
Can I recommend journaling to you? God uses language for the purpose of interior formation of his children. First he uses the language of Scripture. That life-infused book we hold in our hands is a book of God’s language of interior formation. God also uses the language of nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God…”. “While it was still dark…” take the time to observe and notice the sensory experiences of our world. Notice light and dark, warm and cold, fragrance and odiferous, flavorful and bland, music and quiet, laughter and crying. God uses language.
And he uses our language in prayer. Journaling is a form of prayer. It is a practice of interacting with the language of God to me and expressing my language back to God. Words matter.
This summer, use your vacation as a time for spirituality. Make room for unashamed, unabashed, prioritized time with God, time in solitude, time in the wilderness, time for prayer. Read a psalm and pray it back to God. Mirror the language of praise, lament, brokenness and hope. Write about your experience. If I pray better, will I live better?