Sojourns in Solitude: The Disciples’ Schoolhouse
by Pastor Gene
March 12, 2018
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?
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