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Our Hearts Ache for Solitude
For me, scheduling a spiritual retreat is not an occasional indulgence; it’s a quarterly necessity. When I don’t get enough sleep, my immune system breaks down and bam, I’m sick. If I don’t snack every three hours, I get tired. If I don’t walk with God every day at dawn, I get crabby. The older I get, I find I’m intentional about self-care, but my heart still aches for more–seasons of solitude.
We have limitations, so we can’t afford to ignore ourselves. Yes, we need a little more me time. Whatever season you’re in, plan ahead and schedule a day to unplug and retreat with God.
Why You Need Solitude
Although Jesus was God, he practiced intentional solitude. He slipped away into the wilderness or mountainous regions to spend time with His Father. He understood the value of solitude.
Daily prayer and study are necessary disciplines for spiritual growth, but our souls can slowly oxidize from toxic exposure. World negativity can cast a shadow on the good. Our perspective can break down, and intentional living can suffer. We drift, but there’s an antioxidant for our spiritual oxidation—Jesus.
Jesus understands the burdens of this world and the vulnerabilities of humanity. He ascended into heaven and left The Holy Spirit to help us live our lives. Deep within us, The Holy Spirit lives like a fire waiting to ignite, but sometimes we need to fan the flame in the sanctuary of solitude.
Prayer and Reflection
“Location, location, location” bears some truth. Finding a suitable location is everything. I have to find a place with mountains or water. It’s what I enjoy most about a spiritual retreat. Psalm 19:1 reads, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship” (New Living Translation).
Recently, I unplugged. I reserved a hotel room in Lake Las Vegas. Yes, it was a staycastion—only ten minutes from my house. Surrounded by trees, water, and a walking trail, I found great delight remembering God as my creator and sustainer of life. As I prayed, my heart gave my mind permission to rest. In those moments of reflection, I felt vulnerable but safe.
Pause in the Silence
You would think solitude would bring immediately revitalization, but I found I wrestled with the noise. It wasn’t an audible sound; it was the noise in my head—unharnessed thoughts. I wrestled to give God the opportunity to speak. I had to pause the noise within my quiet space and intentionally listen. “Shush, Marisa!” I didn’t want to hear any subjective thinking, wonder what I was going to eat, or remember what I had left undone. I wanted to hear from God. I was ready for Him to download His wisdom, but more importantly, I was ready to sit enveloped by His love.
Look for God’s Thematic Rhythm
To stay focused, I brought some older journals and a short book to read by Henri Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart.” It’s a dated book that I’ve read numerous times, but some key takeaways are timeless. After reading the book, I started reading my journals.
As I looked back, I began to see commons themes or life benchmarks throughout my journal entries. God’s thematic rhythm, year after year, reaffirmed his purpose for my life. I was filled with gratitude knowing that God has and will continue to guide me even when it seems I’ve lost my compass. Oceans of testing have helped me develop my sea legs. I can trust God’s process today because we have a history. It’s a beautiful history of His amazing faithfulness. When we feel we are navigating without a compass, God is still in control.
Listen to God’s Whispers
As Christians, we build relationships, teams, ministries, and churches. I often feel as though there is so much to build making work unending, but God corrected me. He reminded me it’s not about what we build; it’s about what we tear down. Joel 2:13 tells us, “tear your hearts,” (NLT).
The internal work in our hearts outweighs the external work. I began to tear down my expectations, my self-reliance, and my insecurities. I stopped carrying what Christ has nailed to the cross. I allowed my imbalanced life to bring me into balance with Him.
I found renewed strength, but I knew this spiritual makeover wasn’t permanent. Fortunately for us, it’s temporary because the spiritual reprieve we experience won’t last. We’ll continue to depend on God and ache for solitude. In solitude, we’ll face and purge the boulders that have distracted us, and we’ll make space in our hearts for a Godly increase as we decrease.
Plan Your Spiritual Makeover
The holiday season is around the corner with church programs, family festivities, decorating our homes, and of course, shopping and more shopping. Plan ahead, and schedule a spiritual retreat in January. You’ll be glad you did.