Day 17 Psalm 46:7-11
Solitude is a word that is used quite infrequently these days. The general concept of solitude seems to have been relegated to either the practices of Eastern Mysticism or the expensive day spa. However, solitude was intended to be a practice of God’s people where we can spend quality time with our Heavenly Father and find refreshment in His presence.
The psalmist begins Psalm 46 by declaring, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The idea of God being our refuge – of being the One to whom we can run to for protection and shelter from danger – also brings us a sense of peace. Our trust in Him draws us to the Lord and opens us to what He has to share. This can be a true time of solitude.
For solitude to affect us as intended, we must begin as the psalmist suggests in verse 8 of Psalm 46: Come and see what the Lord has done. We must intentionally draw near to the Lord – come to Him – and open the eyes of our hearts to see what He has done and also will do. This begins to shape our attitude and spirit. It helps us grow in faith, believing that the Lord will do as he intended.
Perhaps the most difficult part of solitude for most people is found in two small words from Psalm 46:10 – “Be still.” The psalmist, speaking for the Lord, writes, “Be still and know that I am God.” This suggests that we bow before our God and wait on Him. If He chooses to speak, we are to listen. If He simply wants us to reflect on His many attributes that drive us to praise, then that is what we are to do. But it begins with us not only refraining from speaking, but more importantly stilling our entire being – our bodies, minds and spirits – in the presence of God. Let the Lord direct what happens in that space. Yield completely to His will and listen to Him.
In His book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes of our responsibility to carve out time in our lives and dedicate it to being quiet before the Lord. He writes:
"Even when we are not called to the monastic life, or do not have the physical constitution to survive the rigors of the desert, we are still responsible for our own solitude. Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose Name we minister." [Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballentine Books1981, 2007), 20-21]
If you already have a place where you can be still before the Lord, do not neglect it. If you have not yet found a place of solitude where you can spend such time with the Lord, make this a priority. Begin to set aside times of solitude where you can be with the Lord.