Confessions of Solitude…

I am not too good with silence.
When I sit too long within its somber embrace, I get nervous…
I wait for the other shoe to drop (so to speak)…
I drum my fingers like a world famous rock star just to break its heavy blanket around me…
I am not too good with silence…
We aren’t friends.
But sometimes, we learn to cohabitant, her languishing about, while I attempt to ignore her call.

I find it interesting, given my avoidance of such an activity, that it is in fact a spiritual discipline.   This comes continually as a surprise to me and my extroverted nature.  I desire to be around people, around the noise of life, and around the fellowship of constant chatter…but silence?  That’s a discipline you say?  Hmm…

Thomas Merton once wrote:  “Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul. If man is constantly exiled from his own home, locked out of his own spiritual solitude, he ceases to be a true person. He no longer lives as a man.

Far be it for me to tell you how to acquire this spiritual discipline that I myself still struggle with maintaining , but here’s what I have learned along the way thus far:

Silence (or some semblance of silence) can be achieved by being still. 

What do I mean by that? Life is so busy, and we move at such a fast pace in our world.  We often times to not have the time or the patience to remain still.  We live in a world full of constant distractions, instant messages, cell phones, streaming services and the addition of modern technology.  There is certainly nothing wrong with these tools, but too much of a good thing can be detrimental to us…to the point of distraction…to the point of the absence of stillness in our lives.

When we have distraction, the presence of stillness cannot descend upon us…that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit cannot still speak to us.  He can do anything within this world since He has authority over all, but can we hear His voice within the distractions?

Silence brings freedom from the powers of life and replaces it with compassion…

Richard Foster says;   “Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.   When we become quiet enough to let go of people, we learn compassion for them.” (Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World)

Without aligning ourselves with the presence of God (which can be accomplished through silence and solitude), the needs of others through the lens Christ cannot be seen (or at the very least, this vision is greatly diminished).

Commissioner Harry Read –

STILLNESS AND STRENGTH

Be still, my soul, be still,
If you the Father seek
Be still, be reverently still,
If you would hear him speak.

Be still, my soul, be still,
God is not far away,
Be still, with humbleness be still,
Be willing to obey.

Be still, my soul, be still,
Of God be now aware,
Be still, with openness be still,
Your heart for him prepare.

Be still, my soul, be still,
Receive God’s energy,
Receive his grace, his love, his will,
Receive your destiny.

Psalm 46: 10
“Be still and know that I am God.”

With every blessing,
(Harry Read, 23.09.18)

What if it is the stillness of God that I am afraid of?
What if in that stillness I am found wanting, and like the prophet Isaiah, I realize that I am severely undone?
Perhaps it is in this unspoken fear that I must embrace His still small voice, which beckons me to put down my distractions, my hindrances and kneel at His feet.

Am I able to be still?
Am I capable of such a step?
Are you?

Something more to ponder today.
(I will write more on this topic again soon)

Safe Harbor – The Spiritual Discipline of Solitude

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“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” -William G.T. Shed

I admit I’ve been addicted to the show “Deadliest Catch” for a few years now. 

Image It’s crazy, wild and it truly is a rugged dangerous living.  

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Don’t get ship-wrecked!

I was watching one episode where one of the skippers had to bring their fishing vessel into port because of a mechanical issue.  The seas were raging and the weather was not desirable, but they had to get to harbor for safety and repairs.  Of course the tv show paints it with great drama and suspense, but in this instance they were extremely worried about getting to the docks and getting out of the storm.  

 

 

Are you in need of getting out of the storm in your life today?  

Has the storm been brewing around you for a while now, swirling and ebbing, crashing against your vessel and threatening to capsize you?  Do you feel threatened and exposed, fearful of being washed away?  

Image we all need safe harbor!  I think the Apostle Paul felt this way many times in the midst of his persecution and imprisonment. He even knew a little bit about being literally shipwrecked (this happened to him not one or two times, but THREE times!).  He even wrote about it;  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 

Safe harbor is vital for all of us to have.  Do you have a safe harbor?  Safe harbor needs to be a place where you can go and find rest.  A place that will shelter you from the storms.  A place where you know the storms of life can’t harm you.  Jesus said; 
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Safe Harbor is available – 

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But we have got to be willing to act on it…to actually go to the safe harbor.  We have to be willing to admit that these storms are more than we can handle.  Admit that we need help and our strength just isn’t enough to get us through what we’re going through.  

 

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 He waits for us to come to Him.  He doesn’t just want us to come to Him when we’re in danger…but that’s a start.  Sometimes we come to Him only after we’ve hit rock bottom.  Sometimes we come to Him only after all of our other resources dry up.  Yet He is always faithful!  He is always available.  

May I offer you a little ticket to the safe harbor?  Image

It’s just a gentle word of advice and help.  It’s a small thing that I’ve learned  I’m still learning…

Solitude with God: 

 

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It might sound kind of funny, but being silent before the Creator of the Universe really and truly helps!  There is no better place to go than to God for guidance and for a re-connection with Him.

 

We live in a world where we are surrounded by sounds and noise every day.  There are distractions in our homes and in our workplaces…so how do we find these moments of solitude with God?  Is it even possible?  

Yes it is!  But the real question then becomes are we truly willing to seek out these moments with God?  Are we prepared to sit in silence before Him?  Truly finding solitude in God’s safe harbor requires us to devote or set aside purposeful time with Him.  Without our dedication to the practice of solitude we will find ourselves hopelessly bored and defeated by it.  You have to prepare your mind and your life so that you can actually sit in silence before  Him.  

Anything worth doing takes work.  An Olympian can’t simply show up to an Olympic event without first having spent countless months, days even years practicing and training.  So it is with the spiritual discipline of solitude.  It’s called a discipline for a reason.  

dis·ci·pline
ˈdisəplin/
noun
 
  1. 1.
    the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
    “a lack of proper parental and school discipline”
     
     
    Discipline takes real work and practice.  Sitting in silence before God will take work!  Tuning out distractions and sounds/noises of our every day life will take work!  But it’s worth it!  Image
     
     
     
     
    Do you need safe harbor today?  
    Whether you’re burnt out, washed up, overly tired, stressed out, overwhelmed…whatever the case today, perhaps it’s time you became plugged back into the true source of power in this world!  Perhaps it’s time to realign your priorities which need to include these vital moments of solitude before a God who wants to encourage, strengthen, support and love you.  
     
    Are you ready?  
     
    -Just a thought for you today.
     
    (These thoughts and images were put together specifically for http://www.pastorsponderings.org but are free for anyone to use in the express hope that God’s word may be heard and seen.  May all the glory be given to God!)  

 

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