“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Matthew 14:23 (NKJV)
I have just returned from a soul-filling weekend at The Cove, a retreat center founded by Billy and Ruth Graham, joining a friend—Mary Ellen Miller—who encouraged me to go with her. It’s a lovely, secluded place tucked into the mountainside near Asheville, N.C. The accommodations are sparkling clean, the visitors’ center elegantly rustic, the food abundant and delicious. I was deliriously happy to have hot tea anytime I wanted it!
The purpose of our self-guided “personal spiritual retreat” at The Cove was simple—to draw nearer to God and listen in the stillness and solitude for His voice. As my friend and I retreated to different trails, we used our alone time to pray and meditate on Scriptures. There were no great revelations, no index cards on string coming down from heaven, no thundering voices, no flashes of light…at least, until the fireflies came out.
But God met with us individually, just the same. Both of us found great peace and comfort just spending time in His presence while sitting in the woods or on the porch rocking chairs, talking with Him as we would to each other, pouring out our heart-wishes to Him. We left The Cove with renewed joy, energy, and vision for the paths that lie ahead of us. And we brought with us new friendships with fellow Christians we had met at the dinner table.
Solitude is an elusive privilege in the hurry-up, techno-connected world we occupy today. It’s hard to get away with a crammed-full calendar. But Jesus gives us His example of a life well spent…that when He was bombarded by crowds, He retreated to spend time alone with His heavenly Father, often on a mountain.
Look for someplace today to spend time alone with Jesus—maybe just a few minutes of silence on your morning commute, or with earplugs on instrumental worship music while walking, or even a closet retreat. Wherever you are, shut out the outside noise and listen for His voice of love and comfort in His word. Listen for birdsongs of praise to Him. Be still and know that He is God.
Jesus Christ, walk today with me as I seek to be quiet and alone with You. Then let me take Your Spirit with me into whatever battlefield I face. Help me to practice Your presence with me, in solitude or crowds. In Your beautiful, creative name I pray, Amen.
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