In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that you are God
In the secret of your presence
I know there I am restored
The never ending cycle of going, doing, rushing, serving, being, working, giving....
And I like it.
I like having activities to be involved in, places to be, things to do. There's a sense in which I enjoy being busy. Yes, I usually bite off more than I can chew, and I usually end up a little overwhelmed; but there's a part of me that drives me to do as much as I can with the time that I have.
While making the most of my time is a worthy ambition, I sometimes forget that I was not made only for putting forth and giving out. I am a finite creature, and I was made to need rest. (It's just another way of God reminding us that we can't do it on our own. We need him.)
But in my constantly filled schedule and busy life, I don't have "time" to take a break. Sometimes, I don't even think I need it. I get so caught up in doing, doing, doing, that I don't even have a chance to realize that I'm tired, that I don't have anything left in me to give. Of course, I "know" I'm supposed to set aside a little time for God's Word and prayer; but when I did, it was a little rushed as well... just like the rest of my life.
Until I was required to slow down.
It was an assignment: I had to spend 30 minutes in solitude without any distractions or technology. Complete solitude, where I would not be interrupted. The goal was to learn the spiritual "discipline" of solitude, setting aside a certain amount of time to be silent before God, listen to him, reflect on his word, meditate, pray, even journal. This was more than just having a devotion in the mornings. This was practicing solitude.
Oddly enough, it was actually hard for me to find time for me to spend a complete 30 minutes in absolute solitude. It started out great as I calmed my mind and got my heart right before the Lord. I began praying about several thing that were on my heart, and then I read a Psalm. But as I sat there, knowing I could not do anything else for 30 minutes, I had no choice but to look deeper into my soul. I discovered something that I had never taken the time to discover before. There were things I didn't even realize were weighing me down, things I was anxious about, burdens I had not surrendered.
In that moment, a flood a emotions came over me that I had not slowed down enough to realize were even there. As the tears streamed down, I was brought to the utter realization that I desperately needed God. I was trying to do so much on my own, and I was worn down. I was worried. And I was too busy to know it. But as God brought me to see my need to completely rely on his strength, I felt a refreshing peace as my anxieties and burdens were lifted.
Solitude is different than loneliness. In loneliness, we feel isolated—even in crowds. In solitude, we feel communion—even in seclusion. God meets us in the places where we take the time to "be still and know that he is God." The goal of solitude is not to "be emptied" or discover our "authentic self," like in Eastern meditation. The goal is to be filled with God's Spirit and to conform our authentic self into Christ's likeness.
I needed to be humbled that day. It's often the times when I think I have it all together that I actually need God the most. In solitude, I came face to face with the presence of God; and he restored me.
"The great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so rushed and preoccupied that we settle for a mediocre version of it." – John Ortberg