Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Pleasure of Solitude with God

Somewhere in Monroe County

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

I spent time praying yesterday afternoon. I did not go outside, which is my preference, because a deluge of rain poured out from the heavens. 

I got alone with God, lifted requests to him as they came to me, meditated on Scripture (Ecclesiastes), listened for his voice, wrote some things he was saying to me, prayed for some people, and gave thanks to him.

I also deburdened. This creates a space in my heart to receive from God. When I am in that secret place that is my heart, my listening capacity rises.

I have done this for so many years (see here, for a record of this) that the attraction of God overwhelms the distractions of life. This has helped me live more focused.

The French theologian Pascal said we require things to distract us from ourselves. He wrote: "Hence it comes people so much love noise and stir; hence it comes that the prison is so horrible a punishment; hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible.” (In Dallas Willard, The Great Omission, Kindle Locations 2968-2969)

It took some time to learn aloneness with God, without distractions. To rest in the Lord, and not in the American sense of "rest" as "entertainment." The distracted life is the source of our miserable discontent. Willard writes:

"Solitude and silence are the most radical of the disciplines for the spiritual life because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. For extensive periods of time. All accomplishment is given up. One learns “hands off.” Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, including not listening and speaking, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence, we even stop making demands upon God. It is enough that God is God and we are His. We learn we have a soul, that God is here, that this world is “my Father’s world.”" (Ib., Kindle Locations 2993-2997)

How different, how refreshing, how energizing and life-giving is the pleasure of solitude with God. No wonder Jesus did it!