On Solitude [Noval]

 

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CAPE BRETON ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA, 2013

I love You, Lord, Rock of my salvation.  I remember your faithfulness and steadfast love through the years.  I quiet my soul before You and look for the vision You give me…… 

I see a cool mountain stream inside a dense forest.  The tree cover blocks a lot of the sun, but not all of it.  The stream splashes over smooth stones.  The ground and leaves are moist like there might have been a recent rain. The aromas are a mixture of evergreen and earth and rotting stumps.  So, what is this place, Lord? 

It’s a place of refuge. A place of rest.  A place to meditate, reflect, commune with Me and draw strength. 

Seems like You draw me to places like this a lot.  The little cabin with the table set with wine and cheese, the beach at sunset, here in the cool forest.  Why? 

These are the kinds of places your soul longs for: places of solitude, quiet.  Places to reflect and dream and commune with Me. 

Am I constitutionally a hermit?  Maybe I should have been a monk! 

[Jesus laughs] Why don’t you ask Sheryl how well she thinks you’d do as a monk?  Actually, people outside these communities often have a misconception about the nature of their calling. They are communities, after all.  Their lives are often marked by deep, rich relationships.  Marriage isn’t the only way to be in a close family. 

But back to your design.  The desire to meditate, to reflect, to be quiet has always been part of your nature.  Remember the long bike rides you took as a kid?  The summer rambles through hills and hollows and creekbeds in West Virginia?  The way you still love to walk the beaches in North Carolina?  I can and do use these times to impart things to you that you can give to others.  The discipline of solitude and reflection is a way you can put your roots deep into the soil of My love and truth, to develop understanding and wisdom and insight-those building blocks of healthy relationships. 

The hermit uses solitude to avoid the challenges and demands and hassles of human relationships.  My disciple uses solitude and meditation to draw life from Me to give away to others.  Externally, the process may look the same, but the internal motives and end results are totally different: engagement versus isolation. 

So this desire for solitude is part of our design?  It’s not unhealthy? 

It can become unhealthy if it’s driven by fear or bitterness or shame or some other kind of brokenness.  But that’s not what solitude was originally designed for.  I designed the human soul to operate on a rhythm of rest and work, solitude and engagement, receiving from Me and giving to others.  That’s healthy. 

Think of My earthly ministry in Israel.  There was a repeated pattern of engagement and withdrawal, public ministry and private prayer and meditation.  Longing for the quiet place is a healthy part of your humanity as long as it’s balanced by the disciplined lifestyle of engagement, love, service and community. 

It even works this way in marriage.  Think of what it would be like if you and Sheryl were constantly together, 24/7? 

We’d drive each other completely bonkers! 

Of course you would.  You’d wind up trying to drink from each other’s bucket without time to come to Me to get your own bucket filled.  That doesn’t work very well.

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