Daily devotional from the works of Octavius Winslow.
Chapter 9. Christ in RETIREMENT
“Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!” Mat 28:20
Christ is ever with you — in retirement and solitude. It was in this path of loneliness, consecrated to contemplation and prayer — that our blessed Lord was the most effectually trained and girded for His mission of love. He frequently and habitually sought retirement. Sequestered from the world, withdrawn from His disciples — He would thread the mountain crags and seek in its deep ravines and hidden recesses — the solitary place for prayer. Entering that lonely garden “over the brook Kedron,” amidst its hallowed shades, its leafy grottoes, and its solemn stillness — He spent the night preceding his crucifixion in agonizing prayer, imploring strength from His Father for the morrow.
How simple and concise, yet how pregnant with meaning, is the narrative of Christ’s habits of solitude: “And in the morning, rising up a great while lefore day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” How holy and instructive, and how melting — the pathos of this spectacle! Child of solitude! whose social position, or whose mental idiosyncrasy, or whose refined and sensitive nature, or whose bodily infirmities — separate you from your fellows, cloister you from the world — oh, your path was trodden by your Lord! He walked it before you, and He will delight to come, and by the soothing of His love, and the succourings of His grace, and the manifestations of His glory — re-tread again, those footprints He has left upon your shaded way, cheering and comforting you with His presence.
Oh, you cannot be alone! You are alone with Christ! Blessed loneliness, hallowed solitude — shared and sweetened and sanctified by Jesus! Around that sleepless pillow, by that couch of pain, in that room of stillness — Christ’s presence hovers. Holy are the lessons which He will now teach you; sweet are the truths which He will now unfold to you; soothing are the words which He will now speak to you; unutterable the blessings, into the experience of which He will now bring your soul.
It has pleased Him, perhaps, to deny you home and friends and means of grace — thus severing and separating you from all, but Himself. Be it so — He still is yours. In separation and solitude — He will unfold to you the secret of His covenant, the secret of His love. And now your soul, unclasping her pinions, rises nearer to heaven, nearer to God. Disengaged from the world, severed from the creature, cut off from resources — Christ will have more of your heart, and you will have more of His, than ever. Solitude shared with His presence and sunned with His smile; supplies more immediately traced to His hand — will increase your knowledge of God, strengthen your drooping faith, deepen your personal holiness, and give development, symmetry, and perfection to your entire Christian character. And when you emerge from it, thus trained and disciplined — you will go forth to active duty, “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.”