Camping isn’t something I ever did as a kid, and had I not met and married a mountain kinda man who had been raised by avid campers and road-trippers, I would probably be like those people who are dropped into the wilderness to survive on their own and promptly taps out!
Thankfully, I was not only introduced to the joys of camping, but I truly came to love it, and the bulk of our family vacation memories involve tents, camp stoves, picnic tables and even a bear-chewed ice chest!
I learned how to set up a campsite kitchen, how to keep bugs from invading our tents (mostly) and the joys of hot coffee and cocoa around the campfire under a black blanket of bright stars. I also learned a never-before-known (to me) thing about mountains on the first trip to our favorite place on earth, Lake Tahoe. It turns out that ascending really high, beautiful mountains also includes a gain in altitude, which means less oxygen, which for me, it turns out, means a whale of a headache come day two or three of camping! If it was a shorter trip, I’d just power through it with naps, Tylenol and good hydration, but on longer trips, I learned that I just needed to get through those few days, after which I would begin to acclimate to the altitude and get my mountain legs!
The gospel-writer, Mark gives us a great look at the early days of Jesus’ ministry, before even those he called to “follow me” had any understanding at all of who it was that they were called to follow. In the first chapter alone, Jesus is baptized by his cousin, John, identified as the Son of God, immediately led into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and temptation, then traveled to Galilee where he called the first disciples. The small crew headed to Capernaum where Jesus began to teach in the synagogue, had a confrontation with a spirit who was promptly ejected, and the people…..”were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching – and with authority!” (vs 27), prompting news about him to spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Immediately after, we find Jesus at the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, very sick with a fever. Jesus not only heals her, but verses 32-34 tell us that later that evening the WHOLE TOWN gathered at the door, where Jesus healed many of them and commanded evil spirits to release their hold on several as well. All of this and we’re still in the first chapter! But the next passage is what caught my attention earlier today, and why I am reflecting on acclimation….
We read in verse 35 that after this intense night of spiritual and emotional healing of people all coming to see this power at work, Jesus woke up while it was still dark, left the house and found an empty place….to pray. Can you blame him? I’m not sure how long Jesus was afforded his alone time with God, because the next verse tells of Peter and the others coming to find him and the first thing they say to Jesus is, “Everyone’s looking for you!” Not, “Good morning Jesus. Is there anything we can do for you? Last night must have been exhausting – but it was amazing! How can we support you?” Nope….everyone’s looking for you! Get back in the ring and give the people what they want and need!
I would so love to know what Jesus said to the Father in that solitary place, wouldn’t you? Was he seeking clarity on how this whole thing was to transpire? Was he asking for wisdom to hold the clamor of the crowd in check so it wouldn’t go to his head? Was he feeling overwhelmed with the needs of people and the long, long journey ahead, and getting an idea of what it would cost him personally? Was he excited to finally be “about his father’s business” in telling people the good news?
Whatever the content of Jesus’ prayer, we see in the next verse that his reply to “Everyone’s looking for you!” was simply, “Let’s go somewhere else – to nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
I have a feeling that part of what Jesus may have been doing as he was talking to his father, was simply acclimating to the intense pace and content of this life he had suddenly been literally baptized into, and taking a moment to get his “ministry legs.” These were all “firsts” of the many, many times Jesus would interact with people in this role of God’s representative on earth, and it had to have been somewhat overwhelming, don’t you think?
There are so very many times when we get thrown into situations where we feel suddenly left of center, short on capacity and anxious in a “what’s even happening right now?” kind of way. Jesus shows us the way through these anxious times by example – whatever he was feeling, he knew he needed to take it directly to his Father to re-set and re-focus on the work at hand, and to acclimate to this journey that would take him all the way to the cross.
Feeling overwhelmed? Anxious? Worried about expectations that seem impossible to meet?
Jesus gets us, friends. And if he frequently found quiet places to acclimate to God’s will when all around became chaos, I surely know that I need to as well!
Blessings as we discover more together,