What do you do when you have heard what everyone else has to say, but you still feel lost? Step away from all the frantic activity and empty noise in your world so you can open up a space where you can be found by God. The discipline of solitude frees you from all that constantly grabs at your attention. In solitude, you can hear the light of God speak to your spirit.
When you begin to practice the spiritual disciplines, make solitude your starting point. Solitude is an exercise of intentionally being absent from people and activities so that you can be present to God. It places you where you can find God’s perspective on your current circumstances. In solitude, you wait on God and you make God’s agenda your agenda.
Once his family and cattle had passed over to the other side of Jabbok, Jacob desired to privately approach God with his fears concerning his safety and that of his family. In solitude, Jacob set his heart upon receiving a blessing and prepared to take a hold of God. God appeared to him in a human form (Genesis 32:28) and the divine Person took a hold of him.
May Require Wrestling
Jacob wrestled with God—not only in a physical way, but with a spiritual form of wrestling. He came with requests and a faith that believed God would meet them. This approach almost always leads to opposition and often comes with a cost. Jacob took hold of God and God took hold of him, and they struggled together. Jacob’s fervent striving with God draws a picture of the true spirit of his faith.
Much of your daily routine includes activity that blocks the flow of God’s light into your world. The first step to opening up your spirit to God’s light includes offloading the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that obstruct the flow of God’s Spirit from reaching you. Often when you enter solitude, everyday cares attempt to keep your mind active and distract you from knowledge that flows directly from God. Pulling your attention back to connection with God might require a bit of a fight.
Until the Break of Dawn
Jacob held his ground. He would not quit without receiving a blessing, even if it meant having his hip bone put out of joint. His wrestling with God continued until his unceasing exertion met with the sweet state of triumph. Jacob entered solitude in dreadful anticipation of his next steps. He left with his once sinking countenance revived and armed with confidence in his Protector and Provider.
In solitude, you wait on God with an engaged mind. You open your life up to the light of God’s Spirit. In active stillness, you ready your spirit to receive from him. You consider your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. God shows you how to respond with compassion and forgiveness to the motives of others. Developing a friendship with God requires time spent in solitude. Remain in that place as long as it takes to produce the encouragement you need to meet the circumstances you face. When the emptiness you arrived with has been filled, you know that your time in the presence of God has been time well spent.
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. –Genesis 32:24
Have you ever felt the need to be alone with God so he could enlighten you to his perspective on something you wrestled with? Did you stay long enough to receive the encouragement you needed?
This post originates from Chapter One, The Uncultivated Spirit / A Season for Solitude, in my forthcoming book, A Disciplined Walk with God / Grow in Abundance through Each Spiritual Season. In February, I look forward to sharing topics from Chapter Two.