Monday, January 29, 2018

A Deserted Place

Sometimes God comes and finds us. Sometimes we go and find God. In Sunday's gospel lesson (Mark 1:29-39), Jesus leaves the synagogue with his disciples and goes to the house Simon and Andrew. As soon as they walk in, the disciples tell Jesus about Simon's sick mother-in-law, and Jesus goes into her bedroom, takes her by the hand, and lifts her up. At once, the fever left her. Later, however, as word spreads that Jesus the healer is in the village, the whole city comes to the door, bringing their sick and demon-possessed relatives and friends to him. They seek him out, and he heals many of them.

The next morning, "while it was still very dark," Jesus left the house and went out to a deserted place to pray. When they woke up and could not find their master, Simon and his companions "hunted" for Jesus until they found him. "Everyone is searching for you," they said, but Jesus replied, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And they set out on their journey through the region, going to towns, proclaiming the good news, and healing the sick.

Sometimes God comes and finds us. Sometimes we go and find God. I don't remember that Jesus has ever knocked on my door, but I've been found by God at several important moments in my life. More often, however, if I want to know what it means to be in God's presence, I have to seek God out. I'm not in demand like Jesus, but I, too, have to sneak out early in the morning while it is still dark and catch some time for prayer and study and reflection and exercise. By the time the sun comes up, it is time to wake up my children and help get them ready for school. By the time they go to school, it is time for me to get ready for work. Once I walk through the door at the office, I have no way of knowing all of the demands that will come through the door or ring in on the telephone. And, when the day is done, I need to come home and be present with my family until it is time to go to bed and do it all again.

Sometimes God comes and finds us. Sometimes we go and find God. There are moments, of course, when the distractions all fall away and God shows up in a powerful way. God walks in and crystalizes for me what is important in the moment, and I have a chance to pray with a distraught mother or comfort a struggling husband or celebrate with a rejoicing child of God. But the rest of the time, even though God is always there, I have to make time to notice. I have to go out early in the morning. God is the most important thing in my life, but most often it feels like I'm squeezing in a little bit of time for God. The invitation to seek him might begin early in the morning, but hopefully it grows into the rest of the day.

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