Making the most of time out
By Mike Waine
Luke 5:15-16 “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.”
I’ve never been much of a workaholic. In fact, there have been many points in my life where work has been far down my list of priorities. Time spent hanging out with friends, playing music or just generally lazing around in front of the TV was far more appealing. Maybe it’s because, as a student, I highly valued my time off from school, sixth form and university and would do anything in my power to protect my “me” time. I had this deep conviction within me that I needed time off.
In and of itself, that conviction is a healthy one. Everyone needs time to unwind and relax, at the very least to stop them from running out of steam. But can our down time be more than just a necessity to prevent us from a stress-fuelled breakdown? We see in this passage that Jesus himself felt the need to withdraw from what would have been a hectic workload. We see that ‘now more than ever the word about Jesus spread’. He was at the height of his renown. Despite this, he ensured that he would take time to go off on his own and pray. Some translations of Luke 5:16 read ‘he often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed’. This was a habit of his. In Mark 1:30-32, Jesus even tells his disciples to withdraw for a while and rest.
What we see numerous times in the gospel accounts is that it is not about us taking time off. We know that resting a good thing- God even made it one of His Ten Commandments! This verse in Luke, as well as many other verses, suggests to us that the more pertinent matter is how we spend our time off. Perhaps instead of watching endless repeats of ‘Friends’, I should have opened my bible more. Or prayed more. Jesus was the Son of God and yet he still ensured that he took time to withdraw and pray.
How much more, then, do we need to prioritise devotional time? If we acknowledge that God strengthens us, and accept that we need God’s strength, why would we not commit to the habit of prayer as Jesus did?! Our time with God is the most important thing we can be doing at any point!
It looks like our near future will involve lots of times of isolation. Despite the situations that have brought us to this place, we have an opportunity to capitalise on it! Let’s make time in our strange new patterns of life to withdraw, choosing to use our time to deepen our relationship with God.
Spend time in the word.
Pray for our communities and our world.
Worship in whatever ways you know how.