At my Community Bible Study yesterday we read about Jesus retreating to a “desolate place” to pray. He was deeply saddened at the death of John the Baptist and we can infer He needed time with His Father to grieve and recharge.
The CBS leader shared she has a friend who is fond of asking, “Have you been to your desolate place today?”
We need desolate places. Quiet times to reconnect with our Creator. To receive “God-Hugs”.
Personally, I feel centered when I have spent time in my desolate place. But often the lure of the mundane takes over and suddenly I’m driving who knows where, annoyed by who knows what – with zero spiritual reserve, having neglected time in the desolate place.
Some call it, “the tyranny of the urgent”.
If anyone should have fallen prey to such tyranny, it was Susanna Wesley, the mother of church reformers, John and Charles Wesley.
In the early 1700s in a rural English village, Susanna raised and homeschooled ten children, her husband absent most of the time. (She had given birth to nineteen, but nine of them, including two sets of twins, had died in infancy.)
Susanna was herself the youngest of twenty-five children and had received little formal education But she taught herself classical literature, math, and science. And she also made a commitment to study the Bible and pray for two hours each and every day. Yes, TWO hours.
How did she do it with ten kids afoot?
Susanna had a practice that all her children abided. Susanna would sit on a kitchen stool and flip her apron over her head. Underneath this “tent” she studied and prayed. And the children, babies and all, knew not to disturb her unless there was an emergency. They were expected to do their own reading, their chores, and to watch one another during this time.
Susanna’s reputation in Bible knowledge spread through the region and soon neighbors came over to join her children in the lessons she taught. (And incidentally, she taught the same curriculum to her girls as she did the boys – unheard of in those days.)
Susanna’s two sons went on to preach to over a million people, to spread God’s message of love and forgiveness worldwide, and to write prolifically.
A legacy forged under an apron. Her desolate place.
So clearly I have NO excuse.
I may not spend two hours a day. And my family probably won’t lead spiritual revivals. But surely I can flip over an apron — or at least a throw blanket.
“For Susanna Wesley, there was no amount of distraction that could keep her from prayer and the Bible. That kind of life, deeply rooted, produced great fruit, as evidenced not only by the people who came to hear her teach but also by the children she influenced. The great truth in her story is how prayer does not occupy the stage of activity. Its power is in the quiet trust of gentle souls who are willing to pull away from the everyday to commune with God.” (Faith Gateway)