We sat in my friend’s living room. The house was quiet. The beautiful view from her living room window added to the tranquility as the grassy landscape stretched toward the city. This was a place of solitude.
Solitude is hard to find in our culture today. We hurry, we worry, and we keep our bodies and minds in constant motion. Sometimes we encounter silence. Yet silence is not solitude… silence can be icy or even hostile at times. It can be impatient and anxious. But solitude is quietness, and it can lead us to tranquility. The place of solitude is the place where God’s whisper can be heard.
Perhaps you need to hear his voice in a fresh way today. Perhaps God has seemed silent as you hurry and worry, and you wish he would speak. Perhaps your constant motion drowns out his still, small voice.
After a busy day, Jesus knew he and his followers needed rest. He gave them an invitation — which is our invitation today, too. He said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place…” (Mark 6:31).
Sometimes God leads us to a place of solitude when he has something to say to us. He may lead us to a place where we find ourselves all alone with him. We can struggle and try to push aside the solitude and the circumstances that brought us there. Or we can inquire and ask God what it is he needs us to hear. He just may have an inner transformation for our soul, refreshment that we desperately need, or direction that we so earnestly seek.
Carve out times of solitude in your life. Be purposeful in it. Don’t wait for it to be orchestrated for you. Make room for periods of time when you willingly accept his invitation to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place.” And then listen.
- to teach you. Then listen.
- to lead you to Scripture that will speak to your heart. Then listen.
- how he is praying for you (Romans 8:34). Then listen.
- to show you how he is at work in your life. Then listen.
- what he wants you to see and do. Then listen.
God’s voice will come:
- through the Scripture as he reveals truth to your heart.
- as quiet thoughts when you ask and listen for his answer.
- in words from other Christians to confirm what he has told you in your heart and through his Word.
- as pictures in your mind.
- as an idea of something kind you can do for someone.
Whether your heart is tired and weary, dry and discouraged, or hungry for his presence, be deliberate in carving out some regular times of solitude in your life. We make time for what is important to us. We choose. You will never know the richness of this experience if you don’t stop to move into a place of solitude.
When we choose to listen, he will speak. Be patient. Our hurried, worried bodies and minds need time to relax and be quieted. If your first attempts at solitude are restless times with random thoughts afloat in your mind, don’t be discouraged. Try again… and again.
Once you can quiet your heart and mind in his presence and ask him to speak, you will begin to hear his voice of direction or correction, of revelation or encouragement. And you will want to hurry back.