I wonder what comes to your mind when you hear or read the word solitude. Is it peace? rest? alone time with God? Whatever comes to your mind I’m sure solitude requires that you place a speed bump in front of the life vehicle you’re driving. One thing we cannot as God’s children do is confuse solitude and loneliness as being equal. They are miles apart and in no way, shape, or form the same thing.
Solitude is always a choice we have to make, loneliness is not always a choice. I find it interesting that many of us fear being lonely so bad that we constantly seek a constant stream of clatter in our lives. Facebook is my clatter and I find it ironic that I’m writing this blog to go on our church’s Facebook page . How crazy would you go if everything just got quiet around you? No social media, no t.v., no radio, no cell phone, no consistent flow of words coming out of us or to us? What would happen to you right now if all the noise just stopped?
That is solitude in Him. We stop the noise around us and we take rest in His word. Solitude however is a work it does not just come naturally. As God’s children we have the power through His Spirit to cultivate an inner solitude for our souls. We can cultivate a particular silence in our spirit that sets us free from loneliness and fear. Richard Foster (1998) states in his book Celebration of Discipline that “Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment. Let us be fulfilled!
We have been challenged all summer to meditate on the Psalms. Solitude is the peace that accompanies such meditation. For the past few weeks my reflections on the Psalms for a brief moment melted away the busyness of life. The peace I experienced through that small amount of meditation I believe is similar to me putting my feet in an ocean that is built to cool my entire body down on a hot summer day if I would just man up and jump in.
Although all around me was the same noise, the same people, the same worries, all it took was an once of solitude that allowed me to have a deep inner silence to my soul as I meditated on how the LORD’s name is majestic throughout all the earth!
Although the results of solitude is an inward silence and peace to our soul there are outward manifestations of that peace. We get glimpses of Jesus’ time spent in the desert as Satan tempted Him there. However, let us not forget that He spent 40 days and 40 nights there. I’m sure of it that He experienced a great deal of solitude while being surrounded by the clattering noise of Satan. Jesus went up to the desert hills before He went out and gathered His 12 disciples (Luke 6:12). Many times in the Scriptures when we read of Jesus doing anything He always takes time to slip away. His cousin dies and He took time to withdraw (Matt. 14:13), He fed tons of people by multiplying a little to a lot but immediately after He went into the hills (Matt. 14:23). So we now see that solitude requires outward manifestations.
I would like to end with Trust. What does trust have to do with solitude? Everything. Solitude is a threat to our flesh because it is a humbling mechanism designed to get us to remain silent. If we are silent that means we can only listen and if we cannot talk or ask questions we feel helpless. We are so used to relying on our words to manage and control others. Take away our words and thus take away our control. If we then are not in control then who is? God. God will in our solitude take control. The reason why we struggle with solitude is because we struggle with control and the reason we struggle with control is because we struggle with trusting God. Our silence in solitude is intimately related to trust. So let us this week (right now) read Psalms 13 and begin to meditate, reflect, go into solitude and ultimately trust God.