Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alone in the Wilderness

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

My husband passed by my office door, on the way from the living room to the bedroom. A minute later, I glanced up and saw him standing there in the doorway, casually eating a banana and staring at me.

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked, trying not to sound annoyed.

“Oh nothing. Just thought I would see what you were up to,” he said with a sweet smile.

I smiled back at him, hoping he wouldn’t notice what was really going on inside me. I wanted him to leave me alone. I needed him to leave me alone. But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. After all, it really wasn’t about him. It was me.

That stress you’re feeling isn’t just in your head; it affects your body too.

The truth was that inside, I was feeling like a pressure cooker. It was the beginning of fall, which meant piles of paperwork and calendar items were coming home from school with my daughter on almost a daily basis. On top of it, my work life was going crazy, with deadline upon deadline. Add in my various health issues, and I was frazzled.

It was no wonder I was having problems with psoriasis. A condition known for being aggravated by stress, I wondered if those red patches on my skin were really just my pent-up frustrations oozing out of my pores. And was my fatigue really related to my rheumatoid arthritis, or was it that I was exhausted mentally and emotionally, trying to keep up with everything while keeping a smile on my face?

All I could think about, while my husband was standing there, was I’ve got to get out of here. Ten minutes later, laptop and Bible in hand, I announced my departure and headed out the door.

Needing a time out now and then isn’t anti-social; it’s biblical.

There are lots of ways to relieve stress. Exercise, engaging in hobbies, and social interactions are just a few of the ways to handle it. But sometimes, that’s not enough for me. Sometimes – and what seems like more often these days – I just have to take a time out and get away. From everyone. Yes, even from the people I love the most.

I’m lucky in that my husband is an introvert, so he gets it. He knows that when I’m in that place of needing to get away, it’s not about what (or who) I’m trying to get away from; it’s about what I’m trying to get away to.

Several times in the Bible, the Gospels talk about how Jesus would periodically withdraw from the crowds and even His family and best friends, the disciples, to be alone. He often went to the wilderness. And He went there to pray.

The peacefulness of the wilderness can draw us closer to the peace of God.

While Jesus went out into the desert, I find myself drawn to the woods and the water. Sitting in a kayak or beside a lake, surrounded by tall trees, I can feel my body physically changing into a state of relaxation. There, I feel like I can exhale all of that stress I’ve been carrying around. I can inhale the clear air and the natural beauty, and hear the sounds of nature humming a tune all their own.

There, as I close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, or a cool breeze dancing across my skin, I feel close to God. I know He is there, all around me. He is in control. He created this beauty from the dust of the earth. So likewise, He can create beauty from the chaos of my life. He’s done it before. He can do it again. I can relax. He’s got this, I say to myself. And just like that, I’m at peace. As the stress melts away, a genuine smile returns to my face.

I look around and see what the Lord has made. How great Thou art, my soul sings out to Him. How wonderful, how marvelous … the song becomes my prayer … is my Savior’s love for me. And in that moment, as I reflect back on how the Lord has carried me thus far, I know His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 is true. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Thank you, Lord … thank you. My heart fills with gratitude. My spirit fills with joy. Anxiety is replaced with peace. Stress is replaced with calm. All of those feelings of irritation and annoyance, which I was ready to spew all over my husband just a few hours ago … gone. I’m ready to go home now. Now, now that I have what I needed – time alone in the wilderness with God – I am filled again. With power. With love.

Where do you go to get away from the stress of your life? Whether it’s in a quiet room of your house or out in the wilderness, we all need a place to unwind, where we can spend time alone with God. When we give ourselves that time, in order to be refueled by His spirit, we regain the strength to make it through whatever challenges we may face in our lives today.

Alone in the Wilderness originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.

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  1. Linda: I am having a quiet moment in the house as I write this. Ahh, yes it is so grand. My wife has suggested my life would have been better and likely longer (we are not there yet) if i had practiced quiet sooner.

    I think quiet is better for me than Deep Purple, but oh the shallowness of youth. Besides, Sheryl never really liked Deep Purple, oh well.

    1. LOL, I used to love Deep Purple! Now you have me humming and doing air guitar, haha! Perhaps I forgot to mention that I was jamming out on old tunes in the car on the way back from the woods! Music is good therapy, too. But yes, quiet is most wonderful. I too only learned that later in life (after my daughter was born, and I found myself desperately needing it)!

  2. It is good to get away sometimes. Even children instinctively know to separate themselves to regroup. God created us, he created the world, so why not surround ourselves in His creation :)
    My husband also has psoriasis. I will be praying for you, hope it will get better in time.
    visiting from the Holley Gerth link-up. Hope you have a blessed weekend.

    1. Thank you so much, Bibi! I hope you have a blessed day, and I will pray for you and your husband as well!

  3. Oh, Linda, I can sooooo relate! I've realized it more and more as I've aged, but I really am such a better person if I get that time away occasionally. It's just so hard to fit it in!


  4. Hugs back to you, Lori! Yes, time away and time alone are so very important to keeping our sanity! It is in those quiet times we hear God's voice so much clearer. Have a blessed day!