One of the things that Pauline and I enjoy doing during our holidays and days off (when we’re not visiting our beautiful granddaughters) is to explore some of the open spaces and beautiful scenery that can be found all over this country.
These places remind us that when Jesus wanted to spend time alone with His Father to gain much-needed rest and spiritual strength, He often took to the hills. Similarly, when He wanted to give His disciples a break from their busy schedule or to focus on giving them some more in-depth teaching, He took them off to solitary places such as mountainsides.
That wasn’t always easy! Sometimes the crowds followed them, and a weary group of disciples found themselves continuing their ministry rather than being rested. Indeed, Jesus Himself found that the place of solitude was also the place where He faced temptation before He started His ministry.
But at other times the hills and mountains really did become places of rest, where they could seek their Father and draw strength from Him, and where Jesus and His disciples could spend time alone together as a team to gain strength from God for their ministry.
Which leaves us with a challenge… do we, even in the busy-ness of a place like Windsor, manage to find a ‘mountainside’ that we can retreat to – sometimes on our own; sometimes with a small group of our closest friends – to seek God’s rest and empowering for the future? Fortunately, it need not be a literal mountain. It might be a favourite walk along the riverside, or it may just be a friend’s home, where you are away from your own home and work for an hour or two. Or, as part of a group, it might involve seeking support and encouragement from each other and from God in one of our home groups.
However busy our lives might be, may we each find a ‘mountainside’ where we can get to know God better, and where we can learn from Him. It won’t always be easy – sometimes the ‘crowds’ will follow us there. But at other times we will find the rest and strength that we need, and that’s when we will know that it’s worth the effort of setting aside the time to go there.
With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline