SOLITUDE: Significant and Serious
You might be wondering why I would write a blog in August about solitude. To be honest, I can’t think of a better time to remind us all of this important and often overlooked spiritual discipline. Solitude is often defined as the state of being alone. I’m sure everyone has his/her own view of what solitude looks and feels like. When I think of solitude, I envision myself sitting alone in nature—maybe near a river, on the beach, or on a hilltop—taking in everything around me, listening and talking to God. There is no agenda except to enjoy God’s presence authentically and personally. I love the picture I cast in my mind, but I have to admit that it is more often a desire than a reality. In the frantic pace of life, solitude is often elusive.
Educators, especially those with families at home, seldom have time alone. I remember all too well the feeling of coming home from a long day at work feeling depleted but having to kick into second gear as a wife and mom. The significance and seriousness of solitude took a back seat to busyness. I look back now and wish I had made solitude a priority, and I feel compelled to tell you why. I want this school year to be your best one ever. I believe it can be IF you value the practice of solitude!
Why is solitude significant?
We were made to need solitude. How do I know? Solitude was a consistent practice in Jesus’s life. We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and Jesus and God are one (John 10:30). As such, it stands to reason that if solitude was important in Christ’s life, it should be a priority in ours. The Bible says Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Jesus spent time alone with His Father. He sought solitude after performing miracles (Mark 1:35), in times of heartache (Matthew 14:10-13), before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12–13), and during His agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–44). Solitude was significant to Jesus. To be Christlike is to practice solitude.
While this is reason enough, it’s so important for us to recognize the benefits of solitude. Solitude gives us a chance to recharge. Taking time to be alone with God is like charging your cell phone. We all know that once the battery is dead, our phones cannot function. The same is true for us. Oh, we may be able to “function,” but not in a Spirit-filled capacity. If you have ever caught yourself burning the candle at both ends and feeling completely exhausted, you know it is time for solitude.
Solitude can meet our needs in a way nothing or no one else can. In solitude, alone with God, we can…
Refocus. We can turn our thoughts to what really matters and focus on our priorities.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Vent. We can share our deepest concerns openly and honestly and seek God’s guidance.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19
Give thanks. We can acknowledge who God is and thank him for His faithfulness in our lives.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1
The significance of solitude can’t be overlooked. It truly is our opportunity to stay connected to Christ (John 15:5).
Why is solitude serious?
It’s all about relationship, and relationships take two. Spending alone time with God opens the door to intimacy. While we can never fully know God, we can grow in our relationship with Him as we pray, meditate on His Word, listen to His voice, and sit quietly in His presence.
Jesus gave His life so you and I could come into the very presence of God. This is serious business. In His presence we are...
And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:8
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-38
It may not sound too exciting to be convicted, but with conviction comes His presence as He guides, strengthens, and loves us. So many believers are confused today. The lack of spiritual maturity and the worries of the world are taking their toll on so many. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Mark warned us about this in the Parable of the Sower.
The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (vs. 16-19, emphasis mine).
Solitude can be the difference between living a fruitful Christian life or a barren one. As believers, alone time with God is something we should cherish. The One who formed us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us beyond our understanding is waiting. He is waiting for us to carve out some time for Him.
As we approach a new school year, let’s not forget the significance and seriousness of solitude.
Be still, and know that I am God!
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Final Note. After reading this blog, you might be wondering about the difference between daily quiet time and solitude. I don’t know that the Bible distinguishes between the two, but here is my perspective. There is definitely an overlap. Quiet time is a set-aside part of each day for a meeting between a believer and God. It consists of reading a part of the Bible of the believer’s own choosing and praying. Our desire is to grow in knowledge and relationship with God, yielding to His purposes. This is where I believe quiet time and solitude intersect. This could occur during times of solitude, but I see solitude as a time to get away for an extended period of time (i.e., longer than my quiet time). For me, solitude is a chance to completely unplug and engage with God more deeply, which can’t really occur when I have to be at work in an hour. The bottom line is this—solitude, however you describe it, is significant and serious!