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Pocket Wilderness

Several days ago I found myself weary and in need of restoration after a busy weekend of ministry. After serving a group of fifty plus at-risk youth and sponsors, I felt completely poured out and desperate for rest. I grabbed my fly pole and spent several hours playing with the perch and bass on a creek five minutes from my home. This creek and trail system is a place I frequent often because even though it is in the middle of a community of over 80,000 people on the outskirts of Austin, it is a little slice of wilderness. It is a place where one can get away from the trappings of man and quickly become immersed in nature.

As I stood knee deep in cool waters and heard the familiar swish of the fly rod, I was able to disconnect from all the distractions of city life for a time and reconnect with my Creator. I only caught four small perch which I quickly released, but I caught something much more valuable, a sense of peace and connection to Jesus. Through prayer and solitude, I released my weariness into this place and came away refreshed and revived.

Jesus modeled the practice of wilderness solitude for us in the Gospels. Luke tells us that in the middle of a busy time of ministry He got up early, withdrew and went to a solitary place to pray and commune with His Father. The word that we translate as “solitary place” is eremos; in the Greek it connotes a location that is solitary, desolate, lonely, and uninhabited. The focus of the word is a place that is undeveloped and still naturally raw. It is often used in the New Testament to refer to desert or pastureland.

In the 21st century many of us find ourselves in a world that is very different than that of 1st century Christianity. If you live in the midst of urban development as I do, it can be difficult to find places that are truly solitary and devoid of human impact. Yet many special places still exist where the rhythms of nature dominate the senses. In the field of outdoor leadership we call these places “pocket wilderness.” If you are willing to look, it is possible to find solitude much closer than one might first think. It is my prayer that you would be encouraged to follow Jesus’ example in your current context. May you find a solitary place close to you where you can get up early and commune with your heavenly Father.


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