Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, May 11

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…
—Matthew 14:23

“Can you hear me now?” As advertising catch phrases go, it’s probably one of the most successful. Beyond its quirky humor, it captures our near obsession with keeping in touch, with being always available to friends and family regardless of where we are. Though we sometimes joke about people who can’t go anywhere without their cell phones, PDAs, and pagers, the reality is that many of us have forgotten the value of being unavailable. For those of us who have the ability to help others in a significant way—as doctors, perhaps, or as teachers—the temptation to be “on call” is particularly high.

Master teacher and healer that he was, Jesus knew this dilemma well. Indeed, he was continually approached to solve disputes, cure the sick, even raise the dead. Crowds sought him wherever he went. Had he not taken time to withdraw from the crush of followers, Jesus might never have had the strength to complete his ministry. But on more than one occasion, we read that he did leave, that he did go off alone.

What Jesus knew, and what most of us still have to learn, is that the spiritual life requires solitude, not just for reflection and conversation with God, but also for conversation with ourselves. Granted, we discover who we are through our relationships with others, but we ask our toughest questions in the silence of our souls.

O God, in the midst of the noise of my life, please give me a quiet resting place where I can find myself in you.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.