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Back to the Desert

To be renewed. Luke 4.42

Luke 4: Part 2 (5)

Pray Psalm 5.1-3.
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

Sing Psalm 5.1-3.
Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, attend and hear me, consider how I groan.
Receive my cries and near be, and love me as Your own.
By morning, Lord I seek You, for You will hear my voice.
My every need You speak to, and make my soul rejoice!

Read Luke 4.31-42; meditate on verse 42.


1. Where did Jesus go?

2. What did the people do?

It’s curious that we see Jesus drawn to desert places from time to time. This is the second time He has retreated from the people and His disciples to be alone. What was He doing there? Why was it important He do this?

We might think that the most important Person Who ever lived, appointed to the most important work that anyone could do, and sent to bring about a regime change of historical and worldwide proportions would have little time for lolling about in the desert. But Jesus knew the Source of His strength, and these sorties into the desert would have allowed Him time alone with His Father. Jesus required these times, and He would not let the demands of His daily work keep Him from them. Time alone with our heavenly Father is essential for fulfilling our own callings. Busyness must not keep us from it. Nor sleep. Nor the press of things to do.

David insisted that the one thing most important to him was to seek the face of God and meditate on His beauty (Ps. 27). For Jesus, the best way to do this was to withdraw from friends and work to the barrenness, silence, and strange beauty of a desert place. There He could be with His Father to refresh His vision, review His work, commune in loving fellowship, be renewed in His soul, and take up the next steps of His cross-bearing work, His eyes fixed on the joy set down before Him.

Solitary, extended, quiet, focused, contemplative time with our Father must be as important for us as it was for Jesus. The day’s work will find and press in on us soon enough, as the people did with Jesus. We will be ready for it if we have made time to be alone with God before it all begins.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Jesus must’ve worked late into the night, the day before, since the people and their sick loved ones didn’t even begin arriving until the sun was setting (Lk. 4.40). So, now when it was a new day, it seemed like a good idea to go into a deserted place to be alone—with God (Lk. 4.42). To regroup and refresh.

But, alas, they found Him. “They sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them” (Lk. 4.42). It was a full-on besiegement.

How often that seems to happen. There you are, ready for your own quiet time with God, and suddenly children show up. Sometimes it seems more children than you even remember having! Or the dog needs to go out. Or something, anything, intrudes upon that most precious time of day. No doubt, the intrusion might be of necessity, something that may need to be tended to; but sometimes it isn’t.

It is a special gift of love for spouses to give one another protection during this precious time of day. Granted, there are seasons and stages of life that don’t impose quite as many distractions; and it does get easier to carve out this time when we are older. But whenever it is, we, individually, need to intentionally set out to depart and go to a deserted place to be alone—with God. That could look a lot like a bedroom chair, or a couch, or your home study. Someplace to meet with the Lord, in His Word and in prayer. To focus all our attention upon His beauty, grace, mercy, salvation, commandments, and our Kingdom calling (Ps. 27; Ex. 20.1-17; Eph. 2.8-10).

When Jesus heard of His friend, John the Baptist’s brutal death, “He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself” (Matt. 14.13). He needed to be alone—with His Father. We, too, throughout the day, will need to take time to vacate our minds of all that is pressing in upon us, and depart to a deserted place, if only in our head, to visit with Jesus just a bit. He is always wherever we are, ready to talk and listen, encourage and comfort. “To the end of the age” (Heb. 13.5; Matt. 28.20).

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne, make all my wants and wishes known;
In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare, by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.
(William Walford, 1845)

For reflection

1. Why is it so important that you have that time with the Lord at the beginning of each day?

2. How can you use that time to focus on the work that awaits you in the day ahead?

3. Whom will you encourage today to make good use of this daily time with the Lord?

This was, indeed, the Creator’s customary region. It was proper that the Word should there appear in body, where before he had appeared in a cloud. To the gospel also was suitable that condition of place which had once been prophesied for the law. “Let the wilderness and the solitary place, therefore, be glad and rejoice”; so had Isaiah promised. Tertullian (fl. 197-222), Against Marcion 4.8

Pray Psalm 5.7-12.
Call on the Lord to make your way straight for the day ahead, to surround you with His favor, strengthen you in His Word, and use you for His glory in everything you do.

Sing Psalm 5.7-12.
Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, Your lovingkindness escorts me in this place.
I bow before Your highness and praise Your glorious grace!
In righteous ways You guide me; Your pathway I will know.
No good will be denied me as I with Jesus go.

My foes would fain deceive me and crush me in the way.
Their lying tongues would grieve me and lead my soul astray.
Their guilt hangs on above them; their guile shall be their fall.
They spurn the One Who loves them: reject them, one and all!

Let those rejoice who seek You and shelter ‘neath Your wing.
Their tongues shall rise to speak to Your praise; Your grace they sing.
Your people You will bless, Lord, all those who to You yield.
Preserve them with Your best Word, and guard them like a shield.

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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