Daily Dose, Nov. 21: It Happened in the Wilderness

  Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone… (Matthew 14:22-23   In 2008, I had the wonderful experience of a trip to Israel. There were many highlights about the trip, but far and away the best part for me was how it made the Bible come alive. Suddenly, I could “locate” events that we read about in the Bible, both visually and geographically. It was a fantastic experience. One specific location that was a favorite was just up the hill from the Sea of Galilee. And I do mean “just up the hill.” On a windswept, treeless hilltop overlooking the same waters that Jesus knew was a small overhang of rock. You’d be exaggerating to call it a cave, but that’s sort of the idea. It’s in the exact area where much of Jesus’ public ministry took place -- the stories that we read about in the Gospels. Our group stood in the shadow of this overhang, and our guide read the words from Matthew 14. “He went up the mountain by himself to pray.” This was a reminder to all of us that Jesus practiced prayer, and he sought solitude to talk with his Father. If it was good for him, it would be good for us as well. The wilderness is often talked about in a negative context, but in this understanding the wilderness -- as a place of solitude and prayer -- is a profoundly positive place. Jesus showed us that it’s important to CARVE OUT time and space to talk with God. In the midst of this Thanksgiving week, there is probably a lot going on. You also probably have some amount of free time that you don’t ordinarily have. In this time, I encourage you to take Jesus’ example to heart: carve out some time to talk with your Father. Deliberately seek some solitude…go to the wilderness. You may find peace and rest there. -- Rev. Brad Greene