Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Matthew 14:23 - After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Luke 6:12 - It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

John 6:15 - So Jesus, perceiving that they were [fn] intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king,withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

I find it interesting that there are several times when Jesus felt it was necessary to withdraw Himself from the masses and from His followers to be alone.  

When I was in college one of our campus pastors preached a sermon on the importance of times of solitude.  For some reason, that sermon really resonated with me that evening and it stuck with me for a while.  However, like many things that should have been used in a healthy manner, I began to take the principles of a person's need for solitude and twist it into a life mantra.  

Here's truth, I enjoy entertaining people.  I really do like being in front of a group of people and knowing that they enjoy my stories, jokes, or other silly antics I may pull off.  In fact, I feed off of their enjoyment and enjoy myself.  

I enjoy teaching my students.  There is no greater thrill to me than when my students begin to grasp the truths from the Word of God.  As my kids come to a greater understanding of who God is and how big His grace is in their lives, I get more and more pumped to teach them. 

Honestly though, I pour a lot of myself into my teaching...and in the past, I've poured a lot into my entertaining.  So it is that a lot of times when I'm finished teaching or preaching, I tend to feel a bit drained.  I need to recharge my batteries.  

Unfortunately, for a long time in my life, I poured so much of myself into so many things that didn't really matter in the scope of eternity that I stayed drained.  Never really relying on the strength of the Spirit to recharge me.  Instead relying on my own selfish solitude and wrapping my desire to be alone in a spiritual kind of excuse that said, "I give so much to everyone, I just need my 'me' time."  

It's interesting though, that in the aftermath of my chaotic experience with God's grace that I crave fellowship with my friends and family.  I genuinely have come to the point that I enjoy people, and I genuinely enjoy the times I spend with friends.  In stepping away from the "center of attention" role that I used to play and letting myself naturally enjoy good company I find that what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4 is so true. Two are indeed better than one.  

I still need a little time with myself and God.  But that's the difference in my time alone now and my time alone in the past.  Now, my time alone is usually spent in genuine reflection and prayer.  I don't say that to sound holy or pious, I say that to illustrate that God is teaching me how to be alone in a healthy way.  

I think that all people need some solitude in their days.  I think that everyone needs a place to retreat where they can just escape the masses and spend time "recharging."  However, what is not healthy, is to in a attitude of distrust or fear or arrogance to retreat from the world and expect the world to readily accept whatever emerges from your times of solitude. 

Isaiah tells us that when we "wait on the Lord" that we "renew our strength."  I think that waiting on the Lord takes place when we rest in His presence, trusting Him to move us when we need to move, to lead us where we need to go, and to energize us in our weakness.  

Friendship, real, true friendship is a source of energy renewal for the Believer.  We are called to "bear one another's burdens."  So, when we actually do that, we find that our load isn't as heavy as it normally would be when we try to go at things alone.  So, we can walk with our heads up and our steps a little more sure because we are being supported by one another.

We are after all the body of Christ.  Why would I try to amputate myself from the rest of the body?  What good is an amputated appendage?  It is powerless.  

The greatest struggle I have with this is that I'm in ministry.  (I'm a "professional Christian")  There's a certain image of those of us in ministry that we're supposed to have it all together, that we have all the answers, and that when problems or pain comes our way that we automatically know how to deal with it.  Even we ministers buy into that deceptive image at times. So it becomes hard for us to let others bear our burdens, because we are supposed to be the counselors...not the counseled.  We are supposed to console...not be consoled.  We are supposed to be encouragers...not need encouragement.  

The truth that I've had to learn about myself is this though, I'm a human being.  I get tired. I get discouraged. I get weak.  Even in waiting on the Lord, I find myself antsy and impatient, needing the encouragement to just be still and know that He is God.  I need people.  I need friends and family.  And that's ok.  In fact, it's a great thing.  It's great to know that I am incapable of simply wandering the Earth alone.  

As I look around at friends who have been there for me, as I see family that has reached out in love to lift me up, and as I find myself strengthened enough to help bear the burdens of and rejoice with my friends, I have to smile, because I'm not walking this journey alone.  I have brothers and sisters in a bond stronger than any earthly familial bonds.  I am truly a part of the family of God, and we walk together, holding one another up, enjoying one another's company, praying together, laughing together, crying together, and eating together (can I get an amen on that one?).

Solitude is necessary, I think, for the Believer sometimes.  Just as necessary, and maybe even more so, are the friends that god has placed in our lives to journey with.  As I learn to spend my time alone in a healthy way I have to smile because I know that I have friends and family who I genuinely love and who genuinely love me and I don't have to walk this journey alone. 


  1. Steve,
    I wish you could come up to Ohio and guest speak at my church one day. I will continue to follow you and walk with you in your journey.

  2. Silence, Solitude, and some Henri J. M. Nouwen for some great guidance in a journey through these three aspects of our spiritual journey.

    Love You Steve, Jesse