Do you think that Jesus wept when he ventured off to that “desolate place” written of in Mark 1:35? Do you think he wandered away from Peter’s family’s home determined to find some space; some margin; some quiet spot where he could just sit and stare and summon his Father? The crowds hovered around him like a morning fog over a green pasture; their needs so deep, so complex, so understandably demanding. The newly formed band of brothers known as the disciples looked to him like puppies eyeing their generous master, waiting with great expectation for whatever unique and captivating thing he might do next. And all of this went on through the day and then through the night: long hours for the Lord; pressurized hours; wearisome hours. And so, quietly, after the last vestiges of lamp-light had burned out, and his tired hosts had fallen asleep, he slipped out toward some desolate spot, some corner full of shadows, some imaginary bench in the park of solitude, where, with his Father, he could find rest.
I have found such a bench. It is located a meandering bicycle ride from my home, tucked away in one of our community’s many beautiful parks, hidden amidst some trees and off the well-worn pathways, with a view that draws me Heavenward, presuming sobbing eyes can see it. It’s my “desolate place,” that spot to which I flee, where I just sit and stare and summon my Father. And, no, I cannot begin to fathom the measureless hidden weights that roll around in the soul of Master Jesus. But as a dad I can imagine slices of such weights; as a ministry leader I can appreciate portions, for when I am on my knees crying out for my children I feel the hurt of too little time and so much for which to pray. And when the sermon is done I want to run and hide, into the shadows where no one is listening anymore or looking anymore or expecting anymore. And when a given conversation is completed I want to weep, for too many conversations are about hearts that are heavy and broken. And when the meeting is done I want to listen, and do so quietly, to ensure that in the midst of the cacophony of sound around a table I heard the voice of Jehovah.
So it is I have found my very real bench in the park of solitude, where, with the Father, I can have respite. Indeed, I was there just a couple of nights ago, swatting mosquitos while wiping sweat from my brow and tears from my eyes. It is in this sacred corner of the Kingdom that I can listen ever so carefully—amidst the sound of the lazily flowing Red River and the distant laughter of children—for the whisper of God as he convicts and convinces and counsels me regarding whatever it is that makes my soul heavy.
Is there a bench to be found for you in the park of solitude? And are you pulling off the well-worn pathways to sit there a spell, where you can let it all out before the Father who sits quietly with you, taking it all in, and granting peace in return?