Years ago, there was a Levi’s Jeans commercial which depicted two vignettes. The first featured a fast-forwarded clip of a crushingly busy shopping mall, its up and down escalators jammed with overexcited shoppers. The accompanying “crescendo-ing” music suddenly halts and the scene fades to black. Fading in is a tranquil, rustic campsite by a lake with crackling bonfire surrounded by friends quietly enjoying a beautiful sunset…in their Levi Jeans. The message is clear: Wearing Levi’s Jeans helps you to find peace of mind in a helter-skelter world.
Continuing on in this Lenten journey, we linger on the importance of solitude. Look at this helpful definition of Solitude: “Solitude is the creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposely abstaining from interaction with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God” (Life with God Bible, p. 531). Summing this up, “Solitude” involves action and purposeful inaction! We actively create an open space and pause to allow God to enter that space with us.
This is particularly challenging for intense, high achieving doers in our culture.
Scripture stresses the importance of solitude. Psalm 46:10 says ” Be still and know that I am God.” and Habakkuk 2:20 says: The Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him.”
Solitude is spending quality time with God. In solitude, we are refreshed. Psalm 62 says: “My soul finds rest in God alone.” Augustine, reflecting his refreshment said: “ Our souls are restless until they find rest in You.”
So, what does it take to enter into a solitude? It takes discipline,
time and commitment. As mentioned before, Jesus provides the example for the discipline of prayer, and we can extend that to the discipline of solitude. “Often, Jesus went to quiet places to pray. Jesus, the Master, mastered the discipline of setting aside regular time –away from the busy, hectic life to seek out a quiet space. Despite the of the weight of His ministry, the incessant demands of the crushing crowds, or even his disciples, He possessed a quiet mind –flowing from the peace that passes all our understanding. He is our model. The solitude which Jesus established in quiet time, informed and nourished Him during the “not so quiet” rest of the time.
Wouldn’t it change our days if, we could learn the practice of solitude? It is possible. Dallas Willard writes: In stark aloneness it is possible to have silence…to be still, and to know that Jehovah indeed is God (Psalm 46:10), to set the Lord before our minds with sufficient intensity and duration that we stay centered upon him – our hearts fixed, established in trust (Psalm 112:7-8) – even when back in the office, shop, or home (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 162).
For many of us, the order of life is reversed. As we rush around to complete our highly organized daily schedule, we crowd out God –forgetting that it is He makes things possible. For you, is it time to retreat with Him? Do you crave the peace which the world can neither give or understand? Perhaps it is time to come away with Him.