Luke (the Gospel writer) shares with his readers that the man under demonic influence was often driven by demons into solitary places (Luke 8:29). When I read that, I think, “Yep. That’s about right. The devil and his minions love to push us humans away from one another.” Demonic forces of evil love it when we are in isolation, by ourselves, away from the people that want to help. I’ve lived long enough and pastored long enough to know there are times it is super-duper dangerous to be alone. A sure sign things are not going well at home is not seeing a church member for several weeks in a row. Likewise, you can bank on the fact that your soul will not be enriched when you lock yourself away with your phone whenever you are angry, tired, sad, and/or depressed. Being alone, away from people, during times like this is kind of like a church youth group lock-in. Nothing good is going to happen or result. Nothing.
So when I read verses like Luke 8:29 and how a result of demonic influence is isolation, I get it. It is not helpful to be alone.
The Gospel writer also shares with his readers that Jesus went away by Himself often. In just the first chapter of His earthly ministry (chapter 4), Luke tells us Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days (4:1-2); and later He got away from the crowds by going to a desolate place (4:42). Jesus was/is known for many things. One of them is that He knew how and when He needed to retreat. To be alone. Be by Himself.
In one instance we read where demons send humans into isolation. In another instance we read where the Holy Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness. What are we to do with this?
There are times it is best and wise and good and right and helpful to get away and be by yourself. And there are times it is not best nor wise nor good nor right nor helpful to get away and be by yourself. Wisdom is knowing which is which. I believe we know in our gut which one we should/shouldn’t pursue at any given time. There are seasons you are busy – when the still, small voice of Jesus beckons you to go be with Him for a while. And you have a hard time following through. There are times when you know you need to pick up the phone or meet someone for lunch or rejoin a group or go back to church. And you have a hard time following through. Wisdom knows which is which and follows through accordingly.
There are times you need to be by yourself. There are times you don’t. Know the difference. We can be remarkably genius at convincing ourselves one way or the other, can’t we? When we know we need to be with other people, we rationalize: “Well, it’s okay. Jesus went away into desolate places sometimes.” Or, when we know we need to stop and be with Jesus, we think, ‘Well, Satan wants me to be in isolation!” The crazy thing? Both responses are true. But they are true in the proper context and circumstance.
Do you need to get away? There are times you do and times you don’t. Know the difference.