Out of the Way Places | Mark 1:35-45
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.” Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons. A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.
Mark 1:35-45 | MSG
I have found a secret place where I can escape here on the church campus. An enclosed room with no windows, secured behind two locked doors, that very rarely is disturbed by others. I think of it as my prayer and meditation bunker. It’s where I’m memorizing the Gospel of Mark along with sections of John, these days, reciting Galatians or Thessalonians, or whatever. Every day that I’m here, I look for the moment to escape there. I need it like water. It was while memorizing and meditating in Mark in my ‘prayer bunker’ that I really, profoundly noticed Jesus’ rhythm of leaving. After a long night of engagement with a whole town of needy people, Jesus got up while it was still dark and left the house. He knew how to leave. He needed to leave. The deserted places on the empty hills around the Sea of Galilee were his prayer bunker, his fortress. And when Simon and the others tracked him down there with many requests in hand for him to return, his answer floors me. “Well, then let’s go somewhere else, to the other nearby towns and villages so I can preach there too, because that’s why I came.” Jesus knew how to leave. Evidently the Messiah is the only one who doesn’t have a Messiah complex. It was Jesus’ deep need to experience and practice the free movements of coming and going that was behind the intensity in his voice to the leper. “Don’t say a word.” He needed the leper to practice the discipline of silence so he could practice the free moments of engaging and disengaging from people. The leper didn’t succeed any more than we typically do. How hard to leave off speech! We must talk! And so did the leper, forcing Jesus to be more creative in his search for out of the way places. How we need to learn to leave.
Do you have a “prayer bunker”? What is your favorite out of the way place? (Only share this if you are sure those who hear won’t track you down there!)
Jesus, create, or deepen, my hunger and thirst for the unique ways I can experience you in out of the way places. Draw me into silence and solitude so that my sense of your presence can be sharpened, deepened.
If you don’t have an out of the way place, your own personal “prayer bunker,” prayerfully, thoughtfully find one this week. Be prepared for it to be something creative and unique to the way you’ve been made – or perhaps something that’s been right in front of you the whole time.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.