Summary: This message is about the discipline of Solitude that Jesus enjoyed and we should adopt...
I think most of us want to be like Jesus. If I were to ask you what you as a follower of Christ is trying to do, that’s probably how you would answer - “I’m trying to be more like Jesus every day.” But what if I told you that one of the key ingredients of Jesus life - one of the things that made him special - you are ignoring.
Imagine getting a recipe from your grandmother. Maybe its the recipe you’ve always wanted for her coconut cream pie. You grew up eating it, but somewhere along the way it got lost - but then it gets found and mailed to you from a cousin... There’s only one small problem. The recipe is torn. One or some ingredients are missing. You might try to make it without it, or you might try to make it and guess - but do you ever think that it will taste like grandmothers famous coconut cream pie?
So what’s the missing ingredient in Jesus life that we miss? Here it is... Solitude. Jesus, often, spent time alone.
Think about it... Richard Foster does a great job of highlighting these passages: He says: (Celebration of Discipline, 97)
He inaugurated his ministry by spending forty days alone in the desert (Matt. 4:1-11). Before he chose the twelve he spent the entire night alone in the desert hills (Luke 6:12). When he received the news of John the Baptist’s death, he “withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart” (Matt. 14:13). After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand Jesus “went up into the hills by himself...” (Matt. 14:23). Following a long night of work, “in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place...” (Mark 1:35). When the twelve returned from a preaching and healing mission, Jesus instructed them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place” (Mark 6:31). Following the healing of a leper Jesus “withdrew to the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
...I think we get the point, right? But here’s my question - If Jesus spent so much time alone, why don’t we?
There are probably a multitude of reasons, but here are two:
We fear being alone. We are afraid of it... Have you ever been left alone and been scared?
I remember as a boy hitting that age when I could be left alone at the house. But i also remember one night when it was dark and stormy and I started hearing things. I got so scared I got out my BB gun and sat it in the living room floor. When my parents got home they were a little disturbed to find me asleep on the floor with a gun next to me...
For most of us, the thought of being alone - of being in solitude is scary because it is so foreign to the way we live. Getting alone is not something we seek, but rather something we avoid!
Not only do we fear it, but we also don’t know what to do when we find ourselves alone... We grow restless and bored and look for anything that will occupy our time. It’s not that we can’t pray or can’t spend time with God, but past about 5 minutes we are ill equipped.
So what do we do?
Well first, you have to decide how important it is for you... Let’s face it, no one changes without a good reason. And very few people choose to make solitude a part of their lives...
Jesus chose to go be by himself alone. If we want to be like Jesus, I am convinced that we will have to do the same... Why? Because its in silence and solitude that we learn to hear God the clearest.
If God speaks most often in a still, small voice, how can we hear him if we are never quiet and alone?
Its also in the lonely moments where we come to know the strength and the presence of God. So many of us fear that “aloneness” when that is exactly what we need. Its in the dark where we come to know the beauty of light...
So how do we begin to make solitude a part of our lives?
Learn to recognize and use the small moments of solitude that you already have... The moments before the children wake up. The moments before life gets too busy. The drive into work. That first cup of coffee. Then throughout your day, there will be moments as well, where we can shut off everything and just be...
You could make or find a sanctuary... I had a professor in seminary that made a sanctuary of a spare bedroom. He set up a chair and actually found a prayer rail. he would take time each day to go and be alone. It was a safe space, and it became a sacred space... I also heard about a woman that took a walk each day. There was one bench about mid way through her walk where she would always stop and be silent and listen to God. Do you have a sanctuary in your life?