During the past several years one of the things that has begun to catch my interest is spiritual development as a believer there are several areas of spiritual formation that in our culture that have fallen out of practice. One of these is the practice of solitude in our fast past world we are able to receive information constantly. To many this is just a fact of life. However, we are often overly connected to people and things that draw every bit of energy out of us. Have you ever started your day off feeling like Tony the Tiger only to wish you were back in bed by lunch time? This issue of over-activity and connectedness is not something new mankind has been working themselves to death since the beginning of time. Often we fail to recognize this; it can take many forms even our Christian ministry can become something that weighs on us and drags us down to the point we are ineffective. This is where the spiritual discipline of solitude comes in.
Yes this is a real spiritual discipline we see it practiced throughout the New Testament and it was modeled for us by Jesus and he even instructed the disciples to participate in it. We see it in Mark 6:30-32:
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. (ESV)
Have you ever been too busy to eat? I have found myself in that situation and so have many of you. There are several other passages where Jesus withdraws from the crowds and even His disciples in order to pray, fast and recharge always returning with a heart of compassion for the hurting. We see this in Matthew 14:13-14;
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (ESV)
Our desire as Christians is to be like Jesus in our actions and deeds we are to show love one to another and live lives that help bring glory to God. John Ortberg in his book The Life You Always Wanted shares a story about how he decided he was going to try to show people more love when he interacted with them. He goes on to say that loving people requires a lot of energy and that if he was going to develop a heart that could love others he would need to get more sleep. I have to say I agree with that statement as will many of you.
The spiritual discipline of solitude is where you can begin to grow and strengthen yourself for the work God has called you to. Today is a great day to start if you will slowdown long enough to realize you probably have times during your day when you are actually alone you can stop and catch your breath learn to relax and focus take the moment to pray. Thanking God for what he has given you even if its just 5 minutes the change in your thoughts could change your attitude and help to prepare you for what is coming next. That was what Jesus showed his disciples when he told them to take a time for themselves. Today this same spiritual discipline is real and each of us who desires to love others and live lives that glorify God will need all the energy we can muster to do it. I recommend you begin taking time today to practice the discipline of solitude. Have a blessed day as you walk in the light of God’s Word.