Rhythms of Engagement and Withdrawal


My wife, Pam, and I enjoy going to concerts. The beauty of the music comes not only from the notes, but also from the spaces between the notes. The pulse of alternating sounds and silence—the rhythm—can make it a hand-clapping march or a soothing ballad.

God spoke of rhythms in Exodus when He gave instructions to guide the culture of the Israelites. There were rhythms of work and rest:

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day,
a day of Sabbath rest to the LORD” (Exodus 35:2).

Jesus, as a Jew, would have observed the Jewish holidays, but out of His heart for the Father He also created His own “rhythm” of withdrawal:

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).

Looking at Jesus’ example, we notice that He withdrew often and regularly. Bringing the lesson to present-day, Pam and I try to make a habit to withdraw yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. This kind of consistency is well worth the conscious effort it takes to make it happen.

We also notice that Jesus removed himself from people and the busyness of life to go to “lonely places” (Luke 5:16). The previous verse explains, “The news about [Jesus] spread all the more, so that crowds of people came” (Luke 5:15). He was in high demand!

Sometimes we are able to physically withdraw, but other times, in the midst of busy days and pressing deadlines, it feels close to impossible. Through the years, I have come to see that withdrawal can be a short prayer pause in a conversation or a five-minute break at work. We can prioritize Christ by internally centering our hearts on Him throughout even the busiest of days.

The reason Jesus withdrew regularly to solitary places was to pray. He knew the importance of being with His Father and the purpose of Jesus’ rhythm of withdrawal was to connect with God.

What is the music, the rhythm of withdrawal and engagement, in your connection with the Father? As we center our hearts on Him in prayer, we can only imagine the music it is to our Father’s ears.

This post originally appeared in Disciple!, a publication of The Navigators.

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