Fundamentals of getting away for a recharge

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No one can say Jesus was a coward. He never tucked his tail between his legs — or girded his loins — and ran away.

He did, however, “escape” through a crowd that was out to get him (cf. Jn 10:39) and also, from time to time, headed for the hills.

Since he was constantly teaching by word and by example, then we, by golly, would be foolish to ignore that. Or to give this a positive spin, we’d be wise to pay attention to it. And, and, we’re more Christlike if we do that … and do more.

Ah, there’s the catch, eh? You knew it was coming, didn’t you?

All right. Here it is: Of course, it’s not just “Look at this closely. Good job. Have a nice day.” Or if you want to get all holy or something, “Have a blessed day.”

All well and good but!

Rats! An “and,” and a “but!”

Little nervous, are you now? Sweaty palms? Planning your defensive statement defining what “more” means in “do more”?

Deep breath. Slow and easy. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. There you go. And again. Nice. Couple more. Feel better? Good. Maybe you’re already a practitioner of “box”/”four square” breathing. That little exercise didn’t come from Jesus. Again, relax. It doesn’t mean it’s satanic. (Jesus didn’t come up with ice cream either, but hey … right?)

Imagine box breathing with your hand wrapped around a pint of “Chunk, Chunk, Chunky Chocolate” ice cream.

Oh, yeah.

Little hard to focus right now on Jesus in the hills?

“Chunk Chunk …”

So! The point here is, a point here is, your life is filled with distractions. Some pleasant, some not so much. And it’s filled with people and obligations. Again, some pleasant, some not so much.

Jesus had his share. More than his share. A lot of what the Gospels show is his having to deal with individuals who were real pains in the tuches (to use a good Yiddish word for the backside.)

For example …

Jesus: “I came to save you.”

Person or persons: “You and yours don’t wash their hands!”

Jesus: (not recorded anywhere) “Oy.”

Luke 5:16: “He would withdraw to deserted places to pray.”

(NB: A Latin abbreviation for nota bene, meaning, “Hey, read this carefully”.) The verse says he went to “deserted” places, not “dessert” places.

Finding a spot to recharge

In fact, he went to a lot of lonely spots a lot of times. Take Matthew 14:11-13: “His disciples came and took away the corpse” [of the beheaded John the Baptist. Jesus’ “kinfolk/cousin] and … “When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.”

Because they loved Jesus so much and wanted to console him in his time of grief?

Well, maybe a little of that. But Jesus, poor, sad Jesus, just wanted some time alone.

And who can blame him?

No one.

And who can blame you if there are moments, if there are days when you want time alone?

No one.

But who will blame you?

Others, perhaps.

You, maybe so.

Others- or self-inflicted blame when you’re doing exactly what Jesus did? Exactly what Jesus modeled for all of us?

Exactly what, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the evangelists recorded for us?

For you?


Not convinced? Suffering from a case of the “yeah-buts”?

“Yeah, he did that … but …”

Oh, how some of us love that. An action, an attitude that is — no offense intended here — sort of saying, kind of believing, we’re better than Jesus.

Or God.

Uh oh.

Ask Bernie to help with your escape plans

St. Bernard

No doubt whatever size or shape your “time in the desert” happens to be, St. Bernard of Montjoux (d. 1081) will be ready, willing and able to offer you assistance, just as he helped Alpine hikers so many centuries ago.

You may have heard of St. Bernard, referring to the person, not the dog breed. But you may not know that, among other things, he’s the patron saint of skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who love going up, up, up into the mountains where their blood pressure goes down, down, down. A “private pilgrimage,” the likes of which we all need once in a while, or “often in a while.”

No mountain or trekking necessary. In fact, for some of us, it can be wandering through the local Target or Ace Hardware.

In either case, in any case, like Jesus, imitating Jesus, you’re getting away. Heading for there to escape here. Away from them to be with yourself … alone.

But, of course, you’re never truly alone. The Father of the Prince of Peace, who is also your father, is there. As is the Holy Spirit who may have inspired you, nudged you, smacked you on the back of the head, to go there. Your “desert place.” A favorite relaxing, refreshing spot where walking the store aisles and scanning the shelves do for you what hikes in the Alps did (and do) for others.

After all, God knows what’s best for you.  God wants what’s best for you.

Ooh, Best Buy!


So confidently pray: “I need a little break here, Bernie. Please, help me get one … soon.”

And if inclined, it probably wouldn’t hurt to add: “And I really like those big ol’ dogs. Amen.”

The escape ends

But, of course, ours is a forgiving God. Patient, too. With us. Just as Jesus was with the crowd that hunted him down.

Matthew continues in 14:14-19 that he got out of the boat. (No point staying there now. Maybe how you feel when your kids find you hiding in the bathroom, desperately trying to get at least a little break.)

“When [Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.”

Hold on. There’s more.

“When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, ‘This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves’

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.’

“But they said to him, ‘Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.’

“Then he said, ” ‘Bring them here to me.'”

And you know the rest, the multiplication and the feeding. All-you-can-eat “fishwiches” for everyone (including women and children).

All this after, after that “escaping” for a while. Only a little while.

It seems safe to assume perhaps Jesus wasn’t pleased as punch to be getting back to “work.” Even though Matthew doesn’t have him praying, “Heavenly Father, couldn’t I have had a tad more time to recharge my batteries?”

Could be that’s a prayer you’ve said, mumbled/grumbled a time or two yourself.

Take courage because:

1. The Lord hears the cry of the burned out and those who are edging (or racing) toward that line.

2. Whatever your “deserted place” may be, God is waiting for you there, like the father of the prodigal son.

3. The common expression “God never gives us more than we can handle” needs to add “but we have to pay attention to his, ‘Now take a break. Even an itty bitty one. Now, now, now!'”

4. Just as he must have said to Jesus, he says to us: “Get outta there, my beloved child. Scoot!”

Bill Dodds

Bill Dodds writes from Washington.