‘Jesus often withdrew to lonely places where He prayed.’ (Luke 5 v 16)
After our latest excursion to the cinema we’re interested to learn Luke Skywalker is alive and well, and apparently living on the west coast of Ireland! (Although film fans elsewhere may not immediately recognise the tiny island of Skellig Michael 7 miles off Co. Kerry. Tourism in the area looks set to soar.) He appears to have a new apprentice Jedi and the world can look forward to Star Wars 8, 9 and probably 10. May the force be with us!
The location used for the closing scene of the latest movie was actually for centuries a monastic site of celtic Christianity. Long before Mark Hamill’s fictional character sought refuge in this remote spot, humble believers came here to pray and seek God’s peace. Forsaking the wealth and comfort of this world, they committed themselves to spiritual priorities and the world that is yet to come.
Over the years many people have expressed dissatisfaction with their existing environment, and a longing for somewhere and something better. William Wordsworth complained about the growing materialism of the Industrial Revolution saying, ‘The world is too much with us, late and soon; getting and spending we lay waste our powers.’ William Butler Yeats dreamed of finding rest in the ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’.
Being away even for a while from the daily noise and clutter of needless ‘stuff’ can be therapeutic. When we’ve only the sea or sky for distraction and our Maker for company, life itself and relationship become much more important than possessions or other ‘things’.
Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself all emerged from periods in the wilderness to exercise unforgettable prophetic ministries. The Law and the Commandments were given in the desert of Sinai. Israel returned from exile in Babylon cured of their idolatry.
Good things can come out of a ‘wilderness experience’.
We don’t have to formally enter a monastery or join a religious Order. Nor indeed travel to an island or ‘a galaxy far, far away’. Just regularly seek the quiet moments and places. Shed the clamouring demands of less important business. Accept the times of solitude, even loss, as opportunities to reconnect and draw deeper from the wells of God’s grace. Seek a fresh sense of calling and equipping from Him for the next stage of our journey.
Because there will almost certainly be more adventures to come!
Grace and peace from the Lord to you and those you love in 2016.