Splendid Isolation

Ezekiel 3:22–23: “The hand of the LORD was on me there, and He said to me, ‘Get up, go out to the plain and there I will speak to you.’ So I got up and went out to the plain; and behold, the glory of the LORD was standing there, . . . and I fell on my face.”

Observation: Ezekiel’s ministry was primarily focused on Judean exiles in Babylonian captivity. In the first three chapters, God commissioned Ezekiel, warning him that these were a hard-hearted people who would not willingly listen to his message. What a way to begin a ministry! Then comes verse 22, where God told Ezekiel to withdraw to the plain, to get away from the noise of life. He was to retreat by himself to a place where he could have an empowering experience with the Lord. Indeed, that is what happened, as he found there the glory of the Lord to be so profound that he fell on his face.

Application: It seems sometimes that splendid isolation is necessary for a clearer encounter with God than life’s routine makes possible. The intrusiveness of daily activities seems to require that I withdraw for special seasons of hearing what God is saying. Withdrawal does not necessarily mean going on a retreat, although that could indeed bring cherished renewal of relationship as it did for Ezekiel. But the idea of withdrawal does convey intentionality, of doing things that can so quiet one’s surroundings that a deep encounter with God can result. I wonder: when is the last time God’s presence was so awesome, His glory so powerful, that the only possible response was to fall on my face? When was the last time that the reality of His claim on my life was strong enough to move from fleshly head knowledge to the spirit-filled weeping over His presence?

I am reminded of Revelation 2:5, where the Spirit of Christ is challenging the Ephesian church to “remember from where you have fallen.” He calls them to repent and do the deeds they had done at first. Failure in this would result in God’s closing off any ministry effectiveness they once enjoyed. It seems they, like Ezekiel, needed some time alone to remember, to have a fresh encounter with God. No doubt the Holy Spirit had been nudging them toward renewal all along; He is irritatingly faithful that way. Works done apart from the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit bring God’s condemnation. My heart longs for those God encounters that cause me to fall afresh on my face; He longs for those times with me, as well.

Prayer: Abba Father, cause me regularly to seek times of splendid isolation with You, to lose myself in Your glory. I choose to turn off the noise of my daily routine so I can encounter You. Let me hear Your voice, Lord. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit.

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