Luke 5:15-16 The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
At this point Jesus had what we would call a “successful and growing ministry.” Such circumstances are marked by ever-increasing busyness. Observation will tell you that many gifted ministers have crashed and burned in such situations, but Jesus had the right answer: He prayed. We tend to let other things get ahead of prayer in our priorities, especially when those things seem to be noble, good, and “serving the Lord.” However, nothing is really a higher priority than fellowship with God. If we are in tune with God, then everything else will fall into place, but if we are ignoring God, everything will fall apart eventually, however well it might seem to be going at the moment. That reality is totally unrecognized by the world at large, so it generally takes conscious effort to maintain it. The devil will provide anything he can to separate us from God, even “success!” It is precisely when we think we can make it on our own that we are most at risk. We need to follow Jesus’ example and get private with God. Only then will we really be secure.
This trip has been an excellent practicum in this particular point. I have had to choose to make the time for reading the Bible and praying, and that hasn’t always been easy. As a matter of fact, my very next time will be on a crowded airplane, and even right now I am surrounded by distractions. However, my family is generally understanding, and for that I’m grateful. Heading back to Japan today, life will start to get more “normal,” but I still need to be intentional in placing God first in all my priorities. I would hardly be upset if God gave me a “successful and growing ministry” from this point, but whether that happens or not, I’ve got to keep my focus on Him and not let anything interfere with our fellowship.
Father, thank You for all You have done on this trip, but thank You even more for being so gracious as to lead me into intimacy with You. Keep me from allowing anything to interfere with that. Help me do whatever it takes to stay focused on You, so that I will always be available to You to say, do, and be exactly what You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!