As a husband and a father, I had to give myself permission to be alone. If Jesus could do it in Matthew 14, I too can “withdraw by boat privately to a solitary place” (v. 13).
But if you live in a busy city like I do—and there’s no boat, let alone water—then it can be a bit challenging.
When hotel lobbies don’t work because of guest traffic…
When churches don’t work because these days they lock the doors… (By the way, is it me, or isn’t that sad?)
When staying in your car in a parking lot doesn’t work because people are suspicious…
I go to the cemetery.
Like today. It was one of those days. I woke up with a sore throat and back ache. I called around trying to get the best prices on parts for an old car I just bought. Then I lost the only key to that same car and it costs $90 to replace. Then I experienced a ton of consecutive disappointments while making plans for our immediate future. I needed God. My wife and children would understand. They know I’m much better when I get a breath of fresh God. So today I needed to get in the boat, so to speak.
Men, we forget that we sometimes need this. I know I do. I am so used to running in overdrive that I forget that unless I’m recharged—even if it’s for a moment in the day—I’m of no use to anybody, especially my family.
So lying on top of Mabel Glass’s slab in the old Confederate cemetery where I live, I gazed at cauliflower clouds bursting out before my eyes like it was time lapse photography. Birds competed for my attention, while the wind dusted thousands of leaves on skyscraping oak trees surrounding me.
It was sweet music to my ears. No voices. No cars. No sirens.
Just me. And God. And Mabel and her friends long gone, reminding me that “generations come and generations go” (Eccl. 1:4). That the most important thing on a tombstone is not the date when the person was born or when they died. The most important thing is the hyphen between the two dates. That’s what God looks at. That’s what I needed to remember.
We Salems have our own “isms.” One of our favorite Salem-isms is what we encourage each other with when things of this world trick us into thinking they’re so important. And it goes like this: “WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ETERNITY?”
Men, maybe it’s a collection of little things that have gotten you down today. Or, maybe it’s one big thing—a thing that impacts not just you but your family.
It’s never too late to come back to the reality that God’s eternity is much greater. He is more eager than I give Him credit for to twist my life back on track. I only have to cry Uncle. I only have to align myself with the One who holds my purpose and my destiny in His hand and in His heart.
I’m glad I reminded myself of this today.
At the cemetery.
While I withdrew by boat.
To a solitary place.
“Live as you would have wished to live when you are dying.”
~Christian Fuerchtegott Gellert, 18th-century Christian German poet