When was the last time you went to the mountains when it was snowing? Close your eyes and remember. What was that glorious sound you heard?
When we hear it, we get it. Something deep inside tells us the quiet is good for us.
But we all have ADD
The fact that it is so hard to be still, to be quiet and not immediately replace the silence with something—anything— speaks to a thirst we have in our spirit, a thirst that Jesus said only He could fully satisfy.
We have an enemy who would love to have us think we can fill that void with the things of this world. He would like nothing more than for us to be distracted from hearing from God or from giving our souls the rest they need.
We are all too eager to take the bait and let our minds fill with noise and miss out on what God has for us in the quiet. In fact, we are often uncomfortable with the quiet and are quick to pick up a device and fill the void we feel.
Maybe it was easier in the days before technology. Or maybe it wasn’t!
The first chapter of Mark describes the incredible pace that Jesus kept.
In one day, Jesus:
1) teaches in the synagogue
2) casts a demon out of a man who was in the synagogue
3) heals Simon’s mother-in-law
and then after sunset,
4-29) the crowds come to the door; he heals more people and casts out more demons.
It does not say what time Jesus got to bed, but the very next day, it says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1: 21-35)
I think we might have expected that last verse to say, “And Jesus slept in.” After a long day where his body was likely still tired, he got up early to find a quiet place and he prayed.
In coming to earth as a man, Jesus set aside his deity. To do the work that he did, he had to be in close communication with the Father. After such a day, he needed to be with the Father, to hear from him. I wonder if Jesus processed the events of the day with him or if he asked for wisdom or expressed surprise or compassion for the people he encountered. I think he might have just wanted to be with his dad.
Just as an athlete follows a training regimen to prepare for games, spiritual disciplines, such as solitude, help prepare us for the good works God has planned for us to do. The practice of solitude is part of our training regimen that readies our heart to live out the life God has called us to. We certainly see that in the life of Jesus.
Sometimes God’s purpose for us in solitude is rest
In Mark 6, the disciples and Jesus had such an action-packed day of teaching and “doing” that they didn’t even have a chance to eat. Jesus tells them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
God is good. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). He is our creator and understands perfectly how our bodies and minds function. We need rest, physically and mentally. Giving our minds a break from the demands of the day and allowing God to speak into the space created by finding silence and solitude refills us.
Solitude and silence, combined with prayer and confession is powerful. If I’m moving too fast, I can shoot up a quick confession without unpacking the selfish motivations behind it. If I don’t set aside certain times to pause and sit with the discomfort of my sin or sit with the discomfort of praying through forgiving someone, I short change the process and don’t receive the full benefit of what God wants to accomplish in me.
Solitude and silence give my heart time to think, time to respond and time to be changed. I don’t know the science behind it, but something happens in the pause. Our brains process and our heart opens to receive what God is saying.
These practices truly are disciplines in the sense that we have to choose to do them. Spiritual disciplines do not come naturally to most (any?) of us and it’s okay for it to be uncomfortable. It’s okay for it to be awkward. We are learning something new.
Think it’s impossible to seek silence and solitude because of life’s demands? Ask God to create the way. Our enemy wants us to think of all of the obstacles but remember that God has something special just for you in the silence and the solitude. Let him restore you and prepare you for the good works you were created to do! There is nothing on earth more satisfying to the soul.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”