For most of this month I have been staying in a house about four-five hours from my home. It was an interesting experience for me. I had scheduled all of my speaking up that direction so I was still spending time preaching. I had a few goals for my time up there. First, I am working on my third book so this was some time for writing. Second I am working on what I am calling the “Clear the bookshelf challenge.” For about a year now I have been working through the books on my bookshelf with the idea that I wanted to read each book completely, or just get something out of it, or give it away. This time in northern MN was some extra reading time. The third goal was an experiment in solitude.
Now it wasn’t exactly solitude, but it had some elements that I wanted to test. First, my time online would be limited since the house did not have Wi-Fi. I had internet through my phone but needed to watch my data use. Other than my preaching I only had one appointment while I was up there. The first week I would spend by myself. The second week my daughter would join me, and the last week and half my wife and mother in law would be there.
There were various lessons learned, but one of the most important ones is that solitude helps us learn to trust God. Before I went up there I was reminded of the quote by Richard Foster: “Solitude helps us resign as CEO of the universe.” I have a matching challenge fundraiser going on for the ministry for the summer, but I have to trust that God will do in two months what I am not sure can be done in three. Allowing a space for silence is letting God speak for you.
Not that I am never to speak again, I am writing this post after all. But stepping back gave me time to let God take the lead. It is easy as a “follower” of Jesus to guess where He is going and try to get there before He does.
Many of you wouldn’t need to get away for three and a half weeks to be reminded of this important lesson. Maybe an hour of silence would be a challenge. How about a short walk without your cell phone? As I gave him space not only did He teach me trust, but He filled that space with an awareness of His love and presence. Will you experiment with solitude in your life?