"I cherish the sacred place of solitude … an abyss opening up in the center of my soul." – Peter Feldmeier
Have you ever found yourself utterly alone — perhaps through rejection or exclusion, or simply through exhaustion from doing good? You are not the only one who feels that way. Today there is a widespread sense of loneliness and alienation. Perhaps this is why Internet social networking has proliferated: it combats loneliness and the fear of isolation. But it also deprives people of true solitude.
Few know the value of solitude. Jesus valued solitude. He would often go off somewhere to be alone. Yet He was never alone. He said, "Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." (John 16:32b NIV) Jesus taught His followers to practice solitude:
Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)
In other words, our spiritual workouts are not meant for display. We need to be alone — in private. We need solitude with God.
Through solitude, we come to know ourselves as we are known by God. This may not feel loving at first. It may feel more like deadening boredom, or inner darkness, or painful loneliness. We discover how much we depend on external factors. Through solitude, we learn to overcome our fear of isolation and our worry over what others think. When we are free from those fears, our creativity is free to bud and flourish.
Great eagles fly alone. Likewise, those who have made outstanding contributions, such as in music, art, and science, have learned to fly alone. The biblical prophets themselves learned to value solitude — often through long and lonely wilderness experiences. Consider King David: his spirit thrived during times of loneliness and isolation. When alone in the pastures and the caves, God's Spirit intertwined with his spirit. That's when David created some of the most beloved songs the world has ever known.
We can never know the richest blessings from God until we learn to walk alone with God. Let God isolate us and call us to the sacred place of solitude — the abyss opening up in the centre of our soul. There, our soul gains an independent trust in God, and we no longer need the constant help, prayers, or attention of our peers. There, we discover that, although we may be little and unknown, we are prized by God and God alone. And there, we are liberated and shaped for our destiny.
Prayer: Lord, we pray for courage to cherish the sacred place of solitude, and to surrender our dependence on the praise and approval of others. We long for the blessedness of Your quiet presence. Amen.