Sojourns in Solitude: The Disciples’ Schoolhouse

Sojourns in Solitude: The Disciples’ Schoolhouse

We need the desert. A quiet place, a retreat.

We need a place where we can meet our heavenly Father without distraction. A place to practice silence in the Lord’s presence. A place to listen, as well as to talk. Job said, “Teach me, and I will be silent; and show me how I have erred” (Job 6:24). The desert is the disciple’s schoolhouse.

Jesus needed the desert. Think about that: Jesus needed the desert – and He is our great “example” that we “might follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Consider Luke 4:42-43: “And when day came, He departed and went to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him …”

And Mark 1:35-39: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place and was praying there. And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; and they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

Or Matthew 14:13: “Now when Jesus heard [that John had been beheaded], He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place by Himself.”

Or Luke 5:15: “But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

Jesus would not only slip away to the wilderness; He did this “often.”

We need the wilderness. The desert. Time away from every earthly voice.

They say the hardest part of doing anything important is getting started. So where to begin? You’ve determined to get alone with God. Spied out a spot. Carved out a small block of time. You’re ready to meet your God. But you’re not sure how to begin.

I suggest you begin with Scripture. Frame your time in the desert with a passage from God’s Word. Any passage from the Bible is fine – Proverbs 30:5 reminds us that “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” – but I find that the Psalms are always a great place to start.

Read a verse or a few verses. Pause and reflect on what they’re saying to you. Read them again. And again.

Desert time should include prayer, meditation, listening for the gentle blowing of God’s voice, confession, and contemplation, but let God’s Word be the launching point for your time in His presence.

And if you find yourself drifting, drift back to the passage you read at the first.

Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that “long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.”

In the past, God spoke through dreams and visions and prophets and in many other ways. But today He has once and for all spoken to us through His Son. And it is the Scriptures – the Old Testament and the New – which speak of Him and through which He speaks. Jesus once told the Pharisees, the religious hypocrites of His day, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about Me!”

God’s Word is the primary vehicle through which He speaks to us. The Holy Spirit takes that Word, illuminates it, and teaches its significance to any who will sit long enough to listen.

In a mind-blowing passage in 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about things which “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined.” Amazing things! Things which “God has prepared for those who love him.” And then he says this: “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

Jesus promised His disciples that “when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

And so, we take our seat in the desert – the disciples’ schoolhouse – and we begin with Scripture. And as we sit in God’s presence we let the Spirit teach us what these things mean to us. And, just as Jesus promised, He guides us “into all the truth.” For “we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).


To consider …

  • How faithful are you to carve out some desert time with God?
  • Why is it important that our quiet time with God be framed by Scripture?
  • How does the fact that “in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son” relate to God speaking to us through His Word?
  • What does 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 show us about being Spirit-taught?
  • In what way is the desert the disciples’ schoolhouse?
  • What meaningful truths has the Spirit taught you in the desert?


  1. Putting today’s blog into practice I considered verse 7 of 1 Cor 2 “ We speak God’ Wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory…” It was the word “hidden” that jumped out . Hidden from who or what? Why hide what is so important? Perhaps it’s not hidden so it cannot be found, but instead it’s reserved out of plain sight for those willing to labor to discover it!

    My prayer is that everyone takes Pastor Gene’s 20/20 challenge seriously enough to discover “hidden wisdom” that will inspire them to become more dedicated to personal discipleship.

    • David Medeiros : March 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Love it P Steve, you are speaking my lingo. Isaiah 55:6, ” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” In this dispensation, God is not only near but indwells. We have no legitimate reason not to be diligent, that is as you previously wrote, if we take our discipleship seriously.

  2. I loved yesterday’s sermon. Living alone, I love quiet. I still need to make myself take time “away” for time alone with the Lord. I am doing a daily devotional of Psalms this year and it so often reminds me as in Psalm 31 this morning “turn your dad to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress for the same of your name lead and guide me.” David wrote this when he was not in good circumstances. I do often need this reminder: God is my hiding place. I can go and rest in His loving embrace.

  3. All those thoughts racing at high speed in my brain as I sit to contemplate what we have read in His unchanging, eternal Word. John 1:1 declares the Word as the source of our created world and the essence of knowing our Creator. Later in the same chapter , verse 14,”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,full of grace and truth.” I surrender each thought to the scrutiny of His Word. If it is in opposition, I leave it in His hands. I do this until all my anxious, worldly, and fleshly thoughts are swallowed up in Christ Jesus(2 Cor.10:5). He then imparts what I need for this day’s commission.

    • David Medeiros : March 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

      That reference of 2 Cor. 10:5 that my wife wrote is preceded of course by verses 3 and 4 which states, ” For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

  4. Kathryn Boisvert : March 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Im on the hyper side, so I must intentionally fight distractions. The Lord, in his great mercy has seen to it that he awakens me early in the morning before the sun ☀️ rises and it so happens that my husband leaves for work at 4:30 AM. This provides plenty of opportunity to have my coffee, my quiet time, in my quiet chair in my quiet room! I love the quiet stillness of the morning before the world is awake! Only then can I truly hear the whisper of the Lord w/o other competing sounds. If I have competing thoughts then I have to force myself to get back to listening to what God is telling me. I do well when someone reads scripture to me so I have a wonderful app called Abide. Unless I get distracted and forget to listen to it then it is something I can do daily. This has helped me stay in the word and the narrator takes his time so I take my time digesting the word and ask myself, what does it mean to me?

  5. Joy Lavallee : March 13, 2018 at 8:19 am

    This is a wonderful challenge and I am taking up the reigns. I will say my life is e trembly busy to say the least but I must be honest with myself as to what makes it busy. Thank you Pastor for shaking us up and reminding us. My world has (key word HAS) been filled with beeps, blips, facetube and other things but God has reminded me I AM YOUR GOD -sit at my feet and listen -and this guideline and challenge has brought me back there.

  6. David Medeiros : March 13, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I’m sure those of us who take up this 20-20 challenge realize the onslaught of enemy activity that we will engage to discourage us from continuing. What P Gene recommended by beginning with the Word will put the enemy on the defensive as we read in James 4:7,8, ” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Now consider this text in 1 Peter 2:2, ” Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. “

Comments are closed.