I looked past the dunes and saw no one. All alone and amazed by it, I wondered if I was safe. I expected my family to emerge from the beach grass and ask what was for dinner. It was so strange to be so utterly … alone. I was tempted to feel empty and lonely. Instead, God overwhelmed me. I reveled in the chance to pray aloud, to lay in the sand and talk to the Lord, to sing with abandon, and to laugh in enjoyment of His creation and the truths He stirred in my mind. If anyone came to the beach, they must’ve left when they saw what they thought was a crazy woman. It was not loneliness. It was solitude.
Finding a deserted beach and hours to drink in the Lord is not common in our day. We must seek solitude. Jesus made a habit of going to a “lonely place apart” (Matt. 14:13). Seeking out a solitary place was essential to Jesus’ ministry to people. It’s easy to forge ahead with the “doing,” but even Jesus took time to recharge. The more filled our lives are with people, the more necessary it is to step aside to find refreshment.
The Discipline of Solitude allows us to:
Release our FEARS ~ Most of us resist being alone, seeking groups and people, instead. When we get alone, we exchange control for putting our TRUST in God. Kristi discussed the part trust plays in Submission yesterday. Getting alone forces us to trust God is sufficient to care for us. When faced with problems, our instinct is to answer, defend, explain … but silence is the response of a heart filled with trust, a heart strengthened in the garden of Solitude.
As we discipline ourselves to stop talking, we let God act for us as our Justifier. Letting go of our modern mindset, craving company and words, it seems natural to open our hands to display our trust in God, inviting Him to be our only Companion. When we risk being still, we discover God in a deeper way than while in motion (Psalm 46:10).
Replace our DISTRACTIONS ~ Instead of being swept away be life, Solitude requires the Spirit fruit of self control to be quiet with the Lord. Silence creates emotional and spiritual space. In following Jesus’ pattern of restructuring habits and priorities of mankind, we still the motion of our days. We exchange uncertainty about this life with confidence from being still and knowing He is God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
Redeem our TIME ~ It’s not easy to find this place of solitude, but Foster encourages us that solitude is “more a state of mind and heart than it is a place.” Our minds settle on Him and experience peace that replenishes. Valuing the discipline of Solitude means we create opportunity to hear God and be refreshed by Him.
So where is this beach, so you can go there? God may have a different, better place to meet with you. Sometimes solitude must be captured when & where we least expect it. It can happen anywhere or time, when we redirect the focus of our hearts:
- Instead of filling 10 minutes in the car line with a phone call, enjoy the solitude. Talk to God aloud or just concentrate on a scripture and be quiet with Him, as He works the Word into your mind.
- Instead of using that corner chair to pile laundry, make it a special place for solitude.
- Instead of looking at this weekend and filling it only w/cleaning & kids’ sports, carve out space for solitude. It could be the sweetest time of your weekend and the refill you need to approach next week.
Lost moments are reclaimed. Sacred places are created. Meaningful times are experienced.
Don’t apologize for being still or silent or embracing sweet solitude. Jesus found refreshing, so He could be a blessing to those around Him. Sweet things from the Lord await us on the beach!