Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness
In high school and college I used to be a DJ (among about three other jobs I maintained). Aside from mixing the music, part of the DJs role is to keep the crowd hype and moving. The only "down-time" was at the beginning before the party started and the toward the end when things were winding down. There were basically three phases: prep (music selection, equipment prep and venue setup), the event and tear down. Reflecting on unplugging, reminded me of those days from the aspect of "how much time are we really spending with God?".
For the moment, I'd like to draw some lines around focusing in and tearing down. In a sense, the act of tearing down requires a predecessor; as in something has to have been built up. We tend to build up a walls around us emotionally (our heart and how we "feel" toward certain topics or issues) and mentally (how we think and process through certain things... or not). Clearly, we'd need to acknowledge that there is a division between our thinking and doing versus our feeling and responses. However, often we go on auto-pilot, convincing ourselves that we are focused or pressing toward a particular goal. When really what we've done is set a linear line for our "perceived doing" based on what we've been taught (which is not always bad, just not always God either). Our learned behaviors put handcuffs on the Father who is wildly untamed and seeking to free us from our self motivated confines.
The tearing down, similar to my DJ'ing days, entails us taking stock of what remains and removing the distractions that we might focus more intently on Christ. Tearing down the insignificant and seemingly significant tasks, events, even people, anything that we have layered on ourselves that were not from the Father in the first place, that takes up space and time in our lives keeping us out of full alignment with the purposes of Christ. This also means that we need to literally unplug from some things a lot more often than we think as well. So much so, we see the examples set by our Lord as he many times retreated to quiet places.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness (or lonely places) for prayer. Luke 5:16
There are few places where I wholeheartedly embrace retreat, this is a major one. Unfortunately, I've spent the better part of 20 years being "active" in church, "active" at work, "active" in relationships and so on. Some of it has been fruitful a lot of it has been a learning experience, which is still bearing fruit (and partly why I am writing this now) but could my time have been used more efficient for the King? Absolutely.
Unplugging was not really a part of my vocabulary. I was more immersed in and, frankly, entertained by what was a part of the facade and the pose. Granted some of it was real, meaning truly God called to this or that, truly living out these things that God had placed on my heart in the praying and fasting or the works of service for others. However, there really were too few of those moments.
Now, there has been a shattering of the black mirror so to speak and in the realization that I needed to ACTUALLY follow and do what my Savior has already modeled for us. Unplug.
How to plan
This can be as easy or as challenging as you'd like to make it.
- Agenda: Set a time and place (I recommend starting with an hour), schedule it into your week or day
- Notification: Let the appropriate people know that you will not be available during that time. If its family feel at liberty to tell them that you need some time with the Lord. Prayerfully, they will support you in this (as needed).
- Preparation: 1) Pray and think through what are the burning questions on your heart or if everything "seems" good, ask "Lord, what am I missing?". 2) Read scriptures or commentaries pertaining to those questions or topics, 3) Pray that Holy Spirit enter in and guard your heart and mind against distractions. 4) Take note and evaluate your own motives. A big part of coming before God is our own internal motives, these need to be right and honorable. If not, humble yourself and allow him to speak to that too.
- Enter in: Turn off your devices, lock the door (if you are in-doors) and remove and any other distractions. This deserves your undivided attention for and with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Give him his due.
What to expect
Start with prayer. Simply thanking him with praise and worship. Be genuine and authentic. Sing or pray from that place of desperation (we all have it and only you know that unspoken place for yourself). From here be open and allow the Father come into the space your are creating and holding for him alone. Realize there is purpose in this place for the Father, His purposes. We sometimes get so hyper focused on ourselves that we forget that he has already established a plan for our lives. The objective is to get on his page, not the other way around.
Taking a note from scripture:
God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man
11 He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.
Stop and listen intently.
Intimately commune with God.
A few things to evaluate and unplug from:
- TV (Netflix and chill is not your friend)
- Social Media (Instagram, facebook, twitter, snapchat, etc)
- Friend Groups (for a time, that are not pushing you toward deeper, intimate relationship with God)
- Family (for a time, if they are not pushing you toward deeper, intimate relationship with God)