It’s a new year.
And I’m still in the process of thinking about godly goals for this year.
One of the things God has already laid on my heart which I definitely want to increase in 2016 is to spend more time in silence and solitude.
Lately I’ve been assessing my days and realizing that if I don’t plan for this, I can go through the whole day without it.
Yes, I do have a short quiet time reading the Word and praying on work days in the morning when my husband’s still asleep, (something I’ve returned to during this past year). That is one time I have a little silence and solitude.
But on days when I’m not working, taking time for silence and solitude can be a challenge.
Here is some of what blocks those special times:
-constant playing of music
-long phone calls
-having the TV on too much
-viewing copious amounts of videos on the Internet
-having people talking around me and to me
-not making an effort to get away from the chatter
-uneasiness about being alone
Jesus took time for silence and solitude, so I know I need to do it. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16 NIV).
Here is what I read recently about this subject: “There is a ‘giving up’ when we practice solitude. We give up others and our dependency on them. We give up noise and our fascination with what we hear. We give up our tendencies to be trivial and obsessed with our manic pursuits. We learn to receive what only silence and aloneness can give.” (from Embracing Soul Care; Making Space For What Matters Most by Stephen W. Smith)
I confess that I’m sometimes obsessed with being with people. Their opinions matter more than they should. Too often I want to pour my heart out to friends instead of to the Lord. At times I mistakenly conclude that they might have a solution to my distresses that God does not—that they understand me more than God does.
Years ago I walked every day by myself for an hour. I listened to and for God’s voice on those walks. I cherished alone time and felt so close to the Lord. These days I want to walk with others when I do get around to taking a long walk. I confess that I’ve returned to fighting the idea of solitude that I had in the early days of my Christian walk. A part of me sees it as a negative thing instead of something that has great benefits.
Stephen Smith goes on to say: “Solitude replenishes the soul. This is why Jesus made solitude a regular and necessary part of his lifestyle and relationship with God. He detached from people so that he could attach to God. Solitude allows us to be stripped of others so that we can be covered with divine love.” (page 124)
Some ways I’ve discovered lately to find more times of silence and solitude:
-Walk alone with no MP3 player.
-Go on a bicycle ride; stop and sit for a time in a quiet place.
-Write alone with no music in the background when no one is in the house.
-Go to the beach alone early in the early morning. Walk or just sit.
-Drive in the car with the radio off—especially in early morning on the way to work when traffic noise is down.
-Sit in my recliner when my husband is out of the house with TV, radio and cell phone off.
-Lie on my bed in silence.
-Take a walk around the hospital on my work day during my 15-minute break instead of watching TV in the break room.
-Go outside in my yard in the evening and sit on the lounge chair that’s out there.
During these times I pray silently, read and meditate on Scripture, or just listen to and for God’s voice.
Not long ago, I felt so comforted by what God revealed during a time of silence and solitude.
Two statements came to mind, and the Word “shadow” tied them together: the shadow of the valley of death” and “the shadow of your wings.” I looked up the verses.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me… Psalm 23:4 NKJV
…Hide me in the shadow of your wings. (Ps 17:8 NIV)
… And in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge. (Ps 57:1)
In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. (Ps 63:7)
Through this God reminded me that no matter how difficult a trial I was facing (lately at times my trials have seemed unbearable) He would protect me.
I’m looking forward to more time in silence and solitude this year. One thing I know for sure—that these times are going to draw me closer to the Lord and help me to grow spiritually. I’ll become more obedient. During these times I’ll be reminded that God loves me, He is for me, and He is with me. And I’ll be able to do what He has been instructing me to do again and again in recent weeks: “Receive My peace.”