Mark 1:35-39 NIV

[35] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [36] Simon and his companions went to look for him, [37] and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” [38] Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else---to the nearby villages---so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” [39] So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.


Four times in Matthew's Gospel alone we read this: "Jesus...withdrew...." (Matt 4:12; 12:15; 14:13; 15:21)

The crowds were pressing in, the pressure was on, an important decision had to be made, and Jesus knew that He needed to take time out and hear from the Father. The reality is that most of us live very busy lives, we have demands made upon us from many directions, we have choices to make, some of which can shape our future.  The natural inclination can often be to 'wing it and hope for the best.'  To just 'keep the head down and get it done.'  And yet, what I have found time and again, is that when I 'withdraw' - when I intentionally take time away from the busy-ness and get alone with Jesus - I gain insight, wisdom, perspective and understanding which I would never have come up with naturally.  I end up being more productive because I make better decisions first time round and don't waste time trying to undo mistakes.

What we 'withdraw' to SHOWS what we're 'drawn' to.  We are naturally drawn to that which captivates or stirs our hearts.  People, pastimes, programmes on TV - we are drawn to them because we like them, we find them alluring or fascinating.  We will spend time with them at the expense of other people and things.

In the same way, when Jesus has our hearts, there will be a natural longing to 'withdraw' to time with Him.  When we truly grasp that He is our source and life, we will do all we can to spend time in His presence.

What we 'withdraw' to SHAPES what we're 'drawn' to.  Someone once said: 'prayer will either keep us from sin, or sin will keep us from prayer.' There's a lot of truth in that statement.  The more I'm in the presence of Jesus, the less attractive sin becomes; the more I fill my mind with His Word, the less it is filled with less helpful stuff; the more I seek Him for life and meaning, the less I am drawn to that which seems like fun but only brings disappointment and death. 

Over the summer months perhaps you have let things slide a bit in your personal devotional times with God. At the start of this new season, why not commit to carving out time regularly to get alone in His presence, seek His face, dig into His Word, listen to His voice, and be refreshed and energised by His Spirit?  If Jesus needed to 'withdraw' regularly, you probably need to as well.