Posted by: kathryngraves | September 11, 2012

Lonely Places

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

Jesus sought out lonely places to pray. When we find ourselves in lonely places like grief or suffering, we need to seek Jesus and pray.

One week in early November, I attended the CLASS Christian Writers Conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. While, from a distance, I’m not a big fan of southwestern scenery or architecture, the beauty I saw there in person was phenomenal. I needed to make a personal decision about my work at the time, and strugged with it. One afternoon, I ditched my classes and climbed a small mesa. I found a large rock and sat, gazing all around. The vista included Pedernal, the mountain Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist, claimed as hers because she painted it so often and loved it. Closer to me stood Kitchen Mesa, its red rock “shoulders” draped with evergreen trees growing in a pattern that reminded me of an emerald necklace across its bosom. The contrasting intense aqua sky above made me wish I could paint the scene. I took a picture with my camera, hoping it might capture a sense of the place.

And then I prayed. I spent several hours sitting on that rock, listening as much as I spoke. By the time I hiked down for dinner, I knew what I needed to do about my job. And I knew I’d experienced God’s presence in a way I would remember for the rest of my life.

A year and a half later, I found out I had cancer. I entered a lonely place I didn’t seek, choose, or want. There was nothing beautiful or even pleasant about the experience. At the end of my chemo treatment, I attended a business conference at which Joni Erikson spoke. She addressed her cancer treatment in her speech and said it was like drops of hell splashing over on her. I agreed. As did Joni, I also sought God for my refuge. By the end, I could say the cancer journey was as much about spiritual growth as it was about physical treatment.

Again, I experienced God’s presence in a way I’d remember for the rest of my life.

So, whether we seek the lonely places, or God brings them to us, spend the time in prayer. You’ll never be the same again.

Photo/Kitchen Mesa by Kathryn Graves

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