Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17.33
The second time Jesus is believed to have fallen on his way to the crucifixion we get a glimpse of his physical exhaustion. Perhaps this is the most relatable station for most of us. The abandonment of self-centeredness, fear, and anger are such incredible expressions of Jesus’ intrinsic union with our Father that it is challenging to imagine adapting them to our own way of living. But exhaustion. That we know. That we can identify with. That we can feel compassion for. Maybe (and hopefully) we cannot identify with the physically tortured manner which Jesus experienced, but at least in a few of the myriad of ways which exhaustion comes to us: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and circumstantially.
Jesus often spoke of rest and peace, and he habitually withdrew to “lonely places” to pray and be alone with God (Luke 5.16). Those moments undoubtably supported and emboldened his ability to persevere through challenges with a loving heart.
I must admit, it is amazing to me how many of us know this about Jesus and call Christ “Lord,” yet refuse a regular discipline of solitude.
By refusing a regular discipline of solitude we allow our relationship with God to be directed and shaped by life’s circumstances rather than a true Relationship with God that transcends understanding and circumstances. It is our emotions and circumstances that bring us to prayer rather than God’s abiding love and presence. We cry out to God for help in our circumstances and praise God for saving us from our circumstances. Notice the problem? Our circumstances are more integral to our relationship with God than God’s abiding love and presence. All of our interactions with God center around our convenience, emotions, and circumstances; this is the very nature of self-centeredness. Thus, we are “blown and tossed by the wind,” (James 1.6 & Ephesians 4.14).
Yes, we can identify with Jesus’ physical exhaustion. But our refusal to be regularly disciplined in silence and solitude restrains us from identifying with His getting back up and walking further down the road. We must not merely call Christ “Lord” if we refuse to act like it. It makes us no more holy or righteous or Christian to behave in this way. Christ would rather us act as ones who call Him “Lord,” than be experts in talking about it.
“Christ Jesus, grant me a heart that consistently returns to You every morning so that my actions and reactions may be an effortless expression of our relationship and Love.”