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Ministry with Jesus happens in the desolate places. 

Just to solidify this point, in Mark 6, the story of the Feeding of the 5000 includes the words “desolate place” 3 times. It appears twice in the version in Matthew 14, and once in Luke 9. Holy spirit REALLY wanted us to understand that this ministry was happening in a desolate place. Though it would be fabulous to hang out with Jesus all day in a perfectly groomed and blooming garden that is teeming with life and beauty, that is not the place He is needed. Jesus goes where He is needed. He goes to the desolate places.

And, please note this:

Desolate places can often be disguised as pristine homes in beautiful neighborhoods, as brand new cars, or even as filled church pews.

The Greek word used for desolate is erēmos. In this story it was describing a location, but it is also used in reference to people sometimes. It means deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially of friends, acquaintances, kindred (from the Online Bible by Larry Pierce).

What makes a place desolate in the Savior’s eyes is the hearts of the people there, not the external appearances or location. Are they lonely? Are they broken? Are they isolated? Are the hearts withering from spiritual or emotional hunger?

Do you know how hungry the people in this story were for what Jesus had?  

And they [Jesus and the disciples] went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  – Mark 6:32-33 (ESV)

The people RAN on foot and actually beat the disciples to the desolate place. They ran to a DESOLATE place, just because they knew who was going to be there. And, they ran faster than the boat could carry the disciples there.

It seems to me that if going on foot had been the most efficient way to get there, that is how Jesus would have gone. So, presumably the boat was faster than walking. Yet, the people running beat the boat there. They weren’t just hungry, they were STARVING.

I’m not even sure most people know how hungry they are. I know that for many years, I didn’t. They don’t know they need to run.  Even if they do know they need to run, they don’t know WHERE to run. That’s why Jesus goes to them. That’s why we go with Him.  To the desolate places. 

Today, ask the Lord to reveal a desolate place (or maybe several) that He wants you to join Him in. It is likely right before your eyes. I pray over each of you a release of new clarity in seeing past the outer appearances and into the heart. I pray for new understanding of where to go and how to begin to feed the hungry hearts and bring restoration and renewal to the desolate places. And, most of all, I pray a willingness and a hunger of your own to go to the desolate places with Jesus, for YOU are needed there. In Jesus’ name!

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