Finding Purpose in Desolate Places

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Desolate places aren’t always fun and pretty, are they? The dictionary defines “desolate” as dismal, gloomy, lonely, “having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope”, forlorn, solitary, dreary, dismal, and gloomy, according to dictionary.com. The Greek word that translates into “solitary” includes in its definition lonesome, desolate, wilderness, and solitary. None of these definitions describe an exciting, glamorous, joyful, happy, enticing, and inviting place to be, do they? It doesn’t exactly make you want to go running to find a desolate place in your life, does it? And it doesn’t exactly make you want to stay in a desolate place if you’re in one right now, does it?

Isn’t it something then that Jesus “departed” from the crowds where He was preaching, teaching, and healing in order to PURPOSELY go into a “desolate” place? Then again, Jesus sought a desolate place PURPOSELY because He had a PURPOSE in going there. He went to a desolate place to pray.

Don’t crowds of people where friendships, relationships, activities, entertainments, companionship, etc. abound seem like a much more tempting place to be? Have you ever considered that getting away from the crowds for periods of time to spend time in the presence of the Lord, loving Him, praising Him, worshiping Him, studying His Word, praying to Him, and listening to Him might shed a whole new light on “desolate places”? Have you ever considered finding purpose in desolate places? And have you considered purposely seeking desolate places with the purpose of dong what Jesus did?

I have found that in some of my most challenging times, when I have been in desolate places because I have lost loved ones, have not had the friends around me I would have desired, have not had the social outlets and activities I might have wanted, found myself much more alone than I wanted to be, that I have had utterly amazing opportunities to draw closer than ever to the Lord. While I have often resisted these places and cried out to the Lord that surely my life was not meant to be lived without constant companionship and fellowship and activities with people, I have found incredible peace when I have at last surrendered to this notion: desolate places may be lonely and barren considering the lack of people and activity close by, but they can provide a wide open pathway into ever-deepening intimacy with the Lord.

My lifestyle is such that I find myself in desolate places much more often than others I know, and I realize some people’s lifestyle is such that desolate places rarely manifest. But the one thing I know is this. If Jesus Christ even amid the ever-growing crowds chose to walk away from all the buzz and excitement and hype and noise and opportunity of people and activity to spend time with His Father, then wouldn’t it behoove us all to do the same?

If you find yourself right now in a desolate place, intended or not, don’t miss the opportunity to draw near to the Lord. If you find yourself right now in the noise of the crowds, why not consider drawing away from the crowds like Jesus did to spend time with your Father? At the end of the day, whether your life is full of desolate places or full of endless crowds, the only thing that will truly matter is this. The Lord, your faith in Him, your pursuit of Him, your relationship with Him, your obedience to Him, and the intimacy and fellowship He offers us all through faith in Jesus the Christ. It makes you look at desolate places in a whole new way, doesn’t it?

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35 KJV

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