The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Luke 5:16

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

It was family day.  We were gathered around for a meal.  The door bell rang.  Someone had come round to see us.  There was some crisis or other in their lives it had been building up for the last week and they had dropped by in the hope that we were in to see me.  Well, we were there and it was obvious that the person needed help, so I left the family and we went into the sitting room to talk and pray about the problem.

If that had been a one off occasion it would not have been a problem.  When it was happening most weeks, we realised that we had to do something.  It did not seem right to say, “Sorry this is our day off and we do not see anyone today.”  It would communicate: We split people up between ministry and friends and you are ‘ministry’.  Our impression was that with the broken relationships people were coming from, that we could not separate people out like that.  They needed Jesus’ love passed on through us, not ‘ministry’ dished out professionally.  On the other hand if we did not get time as a family then the whole foundation of emotional security from which we were ministering would be undermined.  The children needed to see that they were special as well.

As we pondered on this problem, it struck me that Jesus never sent anyone away.  There are no instances throughout any of the gospels of Jesus saying.  I am sorry, if you had come yesterday I would have been able to help, but today is my day of recreation, so you will have to wait for tomorrow.  This is even more amazing in the light of the fact that there was a system set up within Judaism that he would have been able to use to this affect.  All he needed to have done was to point to the Sabbath restrictions and he would have been home free.  Rather, whenever anyone came to him, he dropped everything for that need that had just been presented.  So, for example Jesus gets out of his boat and Jairus comes asking for help because his daughter is about to die. He immediately goes with him.  As he goes however this sick woman comes up and touches him for healing.  So, Jesus sets aside this extremely urgent need for the current but actually less pressing need.  He attends to the woman.  Only then does he go off to look after Jairus’ daughter. (Luke 8:40-56)  If this is the case, why didn’t Jesus burn out after the first year.  

The answer seemed to be that he handled his times of restoration strategically rather than as the need came.  He deliberately withdrew so that no one could find him.  So, Luke writes, “Yet the news about him spread even more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16 NIV)  In this way Jesus could not be presented with a need because he was not there.  Since he was not there no one could feel pushed away.  They might not have their need met when they wanted but they did not come away with a sense of rejection.

So we began to leave the house for our family days.  We would go out and explore places in the countryside around.  It was a bit difficult when it rained, but generally speaking there was always somewhere to go.  The family could be restored emotionally and no one had to feel rejected.