As we continue our series on stillness, I want to remind you that cultivating stillness is a discipline. Our world promotes almost anything other than a cessation of activity. In last week’s devotion we focused on silence. Today we will turn our thoughts to solitude.
To many solitude seems like an absolute nightmare, especially if you tend to be an extrovert, always wanting to be with people. For others, however, the thought of solitude is heaven on earth, a chance to be alone in the quiet to recharge and renew.
Whether you love the idea or hate the thought, solitude is necessary. We all need margin in our lives. We need the space that exists between us and our limits. That place that allows us to restore our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Solitude affords us the time to feed and nourish and nurture our souls.
Solitude is that time alone with God where we have the privilege of engaging with Him—just the two of us.
Solitude is not loneliness. Solitude is fulfillment.
There have been times in my life when I’ve felt so disconnected from God. The reality of that feeling is that the disconnection I feel is more my absence than God’s. That disconnection is more about my distraction than His disengagement. He is always present, and He is constantly pursuing me, wooing me into His presence.
The prescription for reconnection is found in that place of Solitude with the Father.
There is a word in Scripture that describes this place of solitude. Read the passages below in several different translations taking notice the highlighted words.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (ESV)
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (KJV)
And in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and prayed there for a time. (NASB)
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. (ESV)
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (KJV)
The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.” For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. (NASB)
The Greek word used in each of the highlighted areas is the word eremos. Eremos is described as solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, a desert or wilderness.
Notice too the context in which the word was used each time—the context of prayer, rest, and communion with the Father.
It seems that the busier Jesus got in His ministry, the more time he spent in the eremos. Our tendency when we become busy is just the opposite. We try to cram more things into our days, finding self-help books on time management so we can whittle out more hours in our day to do more things.
Is this tendency because culture has taught us that going away to a solitary place of rest is lazy?
Do we think that being alone to think, feel, and commune with God is an add-on rather than a necessity?
Do we feel guilty when we stop the madness and run (or should I say walk slowly) to the place of peace with the Father?
I’m not certain of the why, but I do know who loves for us to skip over our times of solitude, prayer, and peace with God. I know who giggles with glee when we forsake the to-do list for the place of peace.
The enemy is the who, and He loves to pull us away from the eremos. He loves to distract us away from solitude. He loves to busy us into a frenzy so we believe the lie that we don’t have the time to go there. Why does he do this? Because in the eremos we gain strength and hope and healing.
Jesus, God in flesh, knew the importance of coming to the Father. He knew the rewards that came with going to the place of solace and solitude.
Why won’t you?
Today, friend, take the time. Go to the eremos. There is rest there.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28