Luke 5:16–He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
When is the last time you were alone?
While many of us have become isolated in our homes during this pandemic, we still have not sought solitude. Our days are filled with noises and distractions. Our homes require a daily demandedness. We fill the silence with podcasts, television and music; we read books, play video games or watch YouTube to fill the void.
Solitude is the intentional practice of seeking silence and aloneness.
Because we have become so hyper saturated with noise and distractions, we become anxious and uncertain at any moment of aloneness. Notice how many drivers around you habitually pull out their phones at a stop light. For those brief 30 seconds, they cannot stand not having something to read, look at, listen to or do.
This is why I love to trail run. Disappearing onto a trail is my place of solitude. People are baffled when they learn that I will run for hours on a trail without music. It is just me, the rocks, and the rhythm of my breath. But in this practice of solitude, I am joining in a long tradition of Christians called the “desert fathers.”
Now granted, their times of solitude were not 45 minutes on a Tuesday along the Backyard Trails of Charlotte. Instead, they moved into the desert for years to live in solitude and silence. They understood in their pre-television and pre-internet days, that the distractions and noise of this world would overwhelm their senses and mute their ability to hear from the Lord.
The desert–the wilderness–is the place where the Lord has spoken to people for generations. These places of solitude are where we reestablish our connection with our Creator.
There are 7 times Jesus retreated into solitude:
- To deal with inner struggles (Luke 4:1-2): Jesus retreats into solitude to withstand the devil’s temptation.
- After a big event (Matthew 14:22): Jesus retreated to solitude after feeding 5000 people.
- Before making a big decision (Luke 6:12): Jesus retreats into solitude before selecting his 12 disciples.
- To pray (Luke 5:16): Jesus retreats to reconnect himself with his Father.
- When experiencing grief (Matthew 14:13): When Jesus learned about John the Baptist’s death.
- When experiencing anxiety (Luke 22:39-42): The night before being arrested.
- In order to fulfill His mission: In the ultimate moment of solitude, Jesus conquers sin and death.
Something that I have always wondered about is what Jesus was doing on Holy Saturday. The day between Good Friday–the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death–and Easter Morning–the day of His resurrection. Just this week, I finally put an obvious piece into that puzzle for me–it was the Sabbath. The holy day of rest. Jesus, in his victory over Satan and death, did not use that day to conquer evil. He did not go into a spiritual battle in the pits of hell for us. No, he followed the tradition of His Heavenly Father, and he rested on the 7th day. He found silence and solitude in his death, and this is what conquered sin and death. This means for us, that these practices of “not doing” are vital spiritual disciplines that can conquer the sin in our own lives.
When was the last time you sought solitude? When have you embraced silence?