A Solitary Place

I went to the cafe this morning to start a study of Mark with a friend.  This is a friend that was placed in my path the first few months that we lived in Arequipa.  I have prayed fervently for this friend.  I have also stopped praying from multiple disappointments and decided to place her and her situation in God’s hands.  The Spirit moves, and it is up to a person whether to accept his invitation, right?  In my walk with Christ in this foreign city, I have tried to be intentional with those that I want to invest in loving and caring for.  Yes.  God is love, and we are to love everyone around us.  But the reality is that we must choose and prioritize who will receive our time and sacrifice.  My investment is not so that I can get something from them.  I always desire to share my faith, and I hope that the other person will get to experience God’s purpose in their life, but I am not one to give up if someone seems disinterested in Jesus from the beginning.  I believe that as a Christ-follower, I am part of the body that can exemplify Christ to others.  It is my prayer that through my love and actions, someone will see Christ glorified and be open to his message.

So back to my friend.  It has been almost five years.  I went through a season of our relationship where I wanted to give it up.  I told God that if he opened the door, I would be available, but a relationship works two ways.  In the past few months, the door seemed to open.  I had several very deep, personal, and frank conversations with this friend.  And she seemed genuinely interested in studying with me in a small group that I meet with on Saturday mornings.  It also seemed to be a perfect opportunity to disciple the girls that I meet with (both are Christians) in how to start an evangelistic study with a seeker.

The Peruvians will tell you that they do not like conflict.  And because of this, many will tell you “yes” to something when they should really say “no” just to avoid conflict and disappointment.  This is frustrating to me, because it is hard to read when someone is genuinely interested.  I want to think the best of people, but I can tell you that our mission team has wasted hours upon hours of waiting for people that plan to meet with us and never show up.  Not every situation is like this, but when I get “stood up,” I always question.  This morning was the second time for me to get “stood up” with this particular friend.  And to tell you the truth, I feel like a big fat failure when that happens.

On a completely different note, I have been feeling overwhelmed with the many visitors passing through Arequipa, keeping my home in order, keeping up with relationships, and a lot of change going on with our library program.  I go through seasons of feeling this way, but it doesn’t help to be disappointed at the end of a week in the midst of this season.

My meeting with my two Peruvian Christian sisters had been postponed to later in the day, and I ended up having time to sit still and write and reflect in my prayer journal.  I also decided to read the first chapter of Mark.

I love using Mark’s version to share Jesus’ story with someone new.  But what I love even more is that I seem to fall deeper in love with Jesus and learn new things every time I go through and share the story.  And as I sat in the cafe this morning alone, I was blessed by Jesus’ example to me.  It was a part of chapter one that I have always loved reading, but I guess it hit me straight in the heart this morning.

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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed, ‘Everyone is looking for you!’
Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else––to the nearby villages––so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
— Mark 1:35-39


Maybe my thoughts are jumbled, but after reading this passage, I sat back and praised God for his message.  I too often forget who is in control, and whose message I am proclaiming.  I get overwhelmed, and I self-doubt my strength and my abilities when all the while I should be relying on my God’s strength and his message.  I needed that alone time this morning.  I needed time away from children, away from interns, away from Bible studies, away from library work, away from my to-do list.  I needed that solitary place to remember the reason for why I do any of this work here.  “That is why I have come.”  But more than anything, I needed to sit still and know that he is God.  He is the one that can drive out demons, cure diseases, raise dead people to life, calm the storm.  I am so foolish to rely on my own strength, my own abilities, my own situations, my own plan.  God has a purpose, and he has a plan.  It is up to others as to whether they will follow.

With a year and a half left, I have been praying for God to bless me with one more opportunity to share the story of Mark with someone here in Arequipa.  I really thought this morning (and last Saturday morning) was an answer to that prayer.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  I would ask that you would pray for these opportunities for our team.  But most of all, I would ask that whatever we do here is for the glory of our God, and that we are relying on his strength and his power.