Summary: Learning what it means to practice silence and solitude. Part 8 of 13 on Spiritual Disc.
Spiritual Discipline: Silence and Solitude
February 17, 2008
Part of our morning routine is for me to drive Joshua and Zachary to school. About two weeks ago I was waiting in the lineup of cars to drop Joshua off at the intermediate school. Now, I have to confess, I don’t like waiting in lines, and I don’t like waiting in the lines to drop my kids off. But I endure it as something I have to do. However, on this day, the line was not longer than normal and we were about 3 cars away from Joshua getting out of the car, when a woman in a van came flying into that little turnaround area and proceeded to block other cars, while dropping her children off. No car could get past her without backing up and honking their horn at her. Then to get out she drove into the grassy area, gunned her engine and spewed mud and dirt into the pick up behind her; and off she went.
Then a few days ago, I was dropping off Zachary at school and I came to a 4 way stop, she pulled up in the cross traffic to my right. I waved her on, since I have learned that the vehicle to your right has the right of way. As she drove past me, she raised her hand and giving me a questioning gesture, and she gave me one of those looks that said, “why would you let me go, you’re not very smart.”
We are always in a hurry. No excuses for this woman, but nobody is content with waiting in lines, in fact, we have so many different ways to save time, that I think we spend more time trying to save time, than if we didn’t worry so much about it.
Think of all the technology and resources we have and we still can’t fit it all in. We have washing machines and dishwashers so we don’t have to do wash by hand. We have microwaves to cook with because the stove is too slow. We have an array of restaurants called “fast food” because we don’t have time to sit and enjoy a meal. Since fast food wasn’t fast enough we invented the drive thru window so we could get it even faster.
We are in this constant state of rush, and if we were to be really honest, we would like to find a way to have some quiet in life. Yet, having quiet isn’t so easy, not when you have children needing to do homework, wanting to play, complaining of empty stomachs; that is why if can remember years ago, there was a commercial where a woman’s home was filled with chaos and she cried out “Calgon . . . take me away!” And in the next scene she’s relaxing in her Calgon bubble bath.
This morning we are going to look at our 6th Spiritual Discipline. One that we struggle with, because having a time of silence and solitude is not something we normally practice. We want it, but wanting it and doing it, are different stories.
Let’s look at some biblical examples of silence and solitude, then we’ll talk about what these are and how we can begin to engage and practice them.
After Jesus fed the 5,000 in Matthew 14, Matthew tells us, “22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”
Jesus was alone on that mountainside, He went there to pray. There were so many people He had contact with that day, He needed the time and space not just to get away, which isn’t all that bad either, but He wanted to get away and pray, and hear what the Father had to tell Him.
In the same way, in Mark 1, Jesus has just healed many people when “35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
I love this! Simon and the disciples go looking for Jesus. Why? They could not find Him because He had gone off to pray. Jesus understood that if He woke up at a normal time with everyone else, He would have had no time to get away by Himself and pray. Everyone was looking for Him, people heard about the healings and they wanted healing as well.
Another great thing Jesus did for us, was to help us see that prayer does not have to come at one particular time. Notice in the first scripture Jesus went up on the mountain and in the evening He was alone. In the second Scripture, Jesus was up early in the morning. Whether you pray in the morning or at night, find your time of silence and solitude in the morning or at night really is not the point. It’s what works best for you in your life, according to your style and personality.