READ: Luke 5
THINK: I saw an interesting picture today. It was side-by-side photos of the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City awaiting the announcement of the new Pope in 2005 and then in 2013. In the 2005 there were just people. In 2013 something like 90% of the people were holding smartphones or tablets of some sort, capturing pictures and videos as the event happened. The caption: “What a difference 8 years makes!” It’s hard to comprehend, but there was a time when not everybody had cell phones. There was a time when nobody had them. And the only way to make a call and get ahold of somebody when you weren’t home was to use a phone booth.
Every phone booth had 2 important things: 1. A phone, which took a certain amount of coinage to use and 2. A phone book. The phone book was necessary in order to look up the numbers of those whom you wished to call (since they weren’t stored on a handy device located in your pocket). Phone booths were all pretty similarly equipped, but they weren’t the same in every country.
There is a story of a visitor from Europe who was in the United States a number of years ago who needed to make a call so he found a phone booth, but he realized quickly that it was different than the ones in his home country. It was late in the day and getting dark outside so the man was having some trouble finding the number that he needed in the phone book. He propped the door open as wide as possible in the hopes that some of the light from the street would shine in and illuminate the pages. Finally, he noticed that there was a light in the booth. But he couldn’t figure it out how to turn it on. It was then that a passerby noticed his struggle and informed him, “You have to shut the door and then the light will come on.” He shut the door and the phone booth was filled with light, shining on the pages of book he needed to see.
Luke 5:16 is an easy verse to just breeze over in this passage. But it is a critically important detail that gives us a picture of who Jesus was, what was most important to him, and how he had the strength and resolve to do all that he did. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” If finding a place to be alone with God and pray was important enough that Jesus did it regularly, how much more do we need to make that a priority in our lives?
The truth is that if we are going to be the people that God has called us to be, if we are going to pour out his love and truth to the world around us, if we are going to bring the change that the world is desperate for by sharing the gospel, if we are going to live the lives we were created for, then we absolutely, unequivocally have to stop and make time to be alone with God regularly.
There is a profound thing that happens when we block out all of the distractions of our lives and step away from everything in our world to be with God, and it is very similar to what happened to the European visitor in the phone booth. He closed the door to the outside world and the light came on. The same thing happens when we’re alone with God. Shorn of the busyness and distractions of life and focused on him, God’s presence illuminates the darkness of our lives and gives us clarity about who and what he is calling us to be. It is a clarity that we can find nowhere else and in no other way. Jesus made time alone with the Father a priority. So must we.
PRAY: Ask God to help you block out all of the distractions of the world when you’re with him. Ask him to help you find a way to make sure he is always a priority in your schedule. Thank him for being willing to listen, and pray that he would illuminate your life during your time with him.