A man stood at a busy street corner and asked those who came by, “Who are you?” Hundreds answered him; every single one did so by saying what he or she did. “Who are you?” “I’m a teacher,” or a lawyer, or a homemaker, or a pastor.
What would you have told the man? Why were you put on this tiny planet? What does God have in mind for your life? When you stand before him one day (2 Corinthians 5:10), how will he measure the success of your days?
When Jesus launched his ministry, crowds came from every part of the region to hear him and to benefit from his compassion and power. At the height of his movement, suddenly he withdrew from them all: “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” (Mark 1:35). Why? For the same two reasons you and I need time alone with God today.
First, he needed to know his life purpose. In Capernaum Jesus faced something of an identity problem: what kind of Messiah would he be? Should he become a pastor in the area, a faith-healer and teacher of great reputation and power? If he stayed in the town, this role was inevitable. The decision he made would determine the very future of his ministry.
He faced this issue by spending time alone with his Father. Then he could say, “This is why I have come,” or “this is what God sent me to do” (v. 38). He knew his “one thing” because he spent time in solitude with God.
This was not the only time Jesus answered an identity issue by getting alone with his Father. After his baptism he spent 40 days alone, determining the future of his ministry. Before his chose his disciples, the men who would carry on his work after his ascension, he spent the entire night alone with God in prayer (Luke 6:12). In the Garden of Gethsemane, facing the cross, he agonized alone with his Father (Mark 14:32-42). Each time, his time alone with God gave him the leadership and direction he needed.
Do you ever struggle with your life purpose? Of all the good things you could do, what should you do? How can you best spend your time and your life? According to Jesus, the best way to know is to get alone with your Father, so he can tell you. Our Lord wants us to know our life mission more than we want to know it. As Francis Schaeffer reminded us, God is there and he is not silent. But to hear him speak, we must be within range of his Spirit’s voice.
When last did you get alone with your Father so he could define and direct your day?