SCRIPTURE: “Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” – Psalm 5:11-12 – NIV
One of my favorite Christian authors is Laurie Beth Jones. In her first book, Jesus, C.E.O., Laurie Beth describes Jesus’ characteristics that make him a good an excellent leader, like “He Took One Step at a Time.” At the end of each writing, Laurie poses 3 to 4 questions to prompt the reader’s …. Several years ago, I read one of her later books, Jesus, Life Coach. I kept a journal of my responses to the thought-provoking questions, and I have been reviewing that lately as part of my morning quiet time. One caused deep reflection – “When Jesus Is Your Life Coach, you will … Respect Your Fragile Things.” What did I identify as the most fragile thing in my life? Personal time alone.
I wake up early every weekday, so I can spend quiet time alone with God and myself. I read something inspirational, or write in my journal. I am grateful for Richard Foster, who wrote Celebration of Discipline. Solitude is one of the Outer spiritual disciplines. Foster shares a passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together , “Let him who cannot be alone, beware of community … Let him who is not in community, beware of being alone.” Practicing solitude helps us both stay connected to God, and be with people more meaningfully.
Many of the Psalms express the benefits of meditating on God’s word, and remind us that those who love the Lord and live righteously will have peace and protection. What does this have to do with solitude? The image of a caterpillar in it’s cocoon comes to my mind. All wrapped up in its protective coating, the caterpillar is alone and still, so it can rest and receive the nourishment required for proper growth. It is safe from all outside influences and potential harm. At the proper time, the creature emerges from its shelter as a beautifully transformed butterfly or moth. Fragile things must be protected, guarded. They are often also beautiful and precious. This is how I feel about solitude. Just a few minutes each day, here or there, keeps my heart and mind in a good place. Without personal time alone, I feel cracked, chipped, broken. So, think of practicing solitude as a way to allow God to spread his protection over you, shielding you with favor, and regenerating your soul.
Be creative in how you schedule regular solitude into your life. You can begin each morning by rising before others to have quiet time with God. You could have lunch alone, and take along something inspirational to read. Outdoor exercise is especially beneficial for practicing solitude, enjoying the beauty of nature and having quality time to experience God’s presence. Solitude is not a luxury, but a discipline you truly need to know God and yourself, and learn the ways of the righteous.
“Solitude is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place. There is a solitude of the heart that can be maintained at all times.” – Richard J. Foster
A.S.K. (the Higher Choices Process)
Ask – questions to discover the direction God would suggest you take.
|1. How have past times of solitude positively affected your peace and well being?|
|2. What choices do you make when there is no one around to influence you?|
|3. Could you schedule a whole day or weekend for a special personal retreat?|
|Seek – ideas on choices that will take you further along your higher path.|
|Knock – truth embraced through practice and persistence; abiding.|