Famous American painter Georgia O’Keefe was well-known to walk for hours in the high red mountain ranges of her beloved Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico.
Even well into her 80’s, before losing her sight, she’d walk for hours, alone with no witness but the ravens and the animal skulls. Do you wonder what she was doing? I do and though I know nothing of her faith, I cannot help believe she was walking to the wellspring of her inspiration and formidable talent as a painter.
Jesus was one to slip off into the hills alone too. Often he’d shoo the boys off, tell them to get into a boat, and disappear to a high lonely place. In fact, as more people sought him out to heal and restore them, the gospel writer Luke says, he frequently withdrew to the wildness to pray. He had to go to the wellspring.
Are you tired? Uninspired? Bored? Overwhelmed? Thirsty?
May I ask when was the last time you withdrew like Jesus and Ms. O’Keefe to the wilderness?
If you are already a Jesus follower, you probably have a practice called “quiet time.” It’s a few minutes at the start of your day, precious really, where you may read a few scriptures and pray. It’s a good practice.
Does your quiet time feel like you are slipping off like Ms. O’Keefe into the high New Mexico hills, or like you are checking the first in an endless list of boxes?
Do you feel as if you can do nothing? Are you apart from him?
This is a sheep
He is looking intently at someone outside the frame. I’ve been around livestock enough to know, he’s looking at his shepherd and his shepherd is probably about to feed him.
You might not only be thirsty, but you might be starving to death too. If Jesus had to get away alone to meet his Father because he was depleted, don’t you?
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Could you use to be carried close to the heart of your Lord? Are you running too fast for him to catch you?
We confuse duty with devotion.
Duty is when I have to. Devotion is when I am dying to.
I believe Jesus counted the minutes until he could get by himself, up on the mountain with his Father, to hear his voice and unburden his heart. Jesus didn’t go to the mountain because he was expected to, he went because he was desperate. There was unfailing love there and he couldn’t live without it.
Maybe a new approach to “quiet time” is in order?
Can you really slip away - if not to the wilderness or the New Mexico desert, then a hidden place, maybe for a few minutes longer; maybe even before dawn?
If I happened to show up there and we sat together, in the dark, with steaming coffee mugs in hand, I would ask you only one question and you would happily answer me.
How is your heart?
Then I would sit back and listen until you were done answering.
Try this with your shepherd tomorrow. Slip away. Collapse in his arms. Let him carry you. Feed you. Hold you close to his heart and listen as you tell him how it is.
Let us know what happens in the comment section below.