Some people fear it, some people yearn for it, and some people rarely obtain it despite how hard they try. I am referring to solitude. Being alone is a state that few people are ambivalent about. Most people either really enjoy it, or try to avoid it at all costs.
There is, however, a type of solitude that is vital to our life in Christ. What I speak of is not found when one is merely trying to escape unwanted company, or desiring to follow one’s own will and passions without being hindered by others, or even simply pursuing peace and quiet. The solitude I speak of involves the deepest kind of intimacy. This solitude is purposeful “alone time” with our Maker, our Sustainer, our Redeemer and our God. The purest form of solitude is that which is spent with Him.
Our relationship with Christ is the single most important relationship we can ever hope to have; yet so often we spend only minimal, nominal time alone with Him, if that. We allow the business of life, as well as our own agendas and pursuits to hinder us from developing this relationship more fully.
When Jesus walked the earth He taught us about spending time alone with Him, both by Word and example. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”. We read in Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. (refer also to Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:13, 23, Luke 4:42)
If Christ taught and modeled this, why do we not follow His example? How do we think we can build an intimate relationship, grow in Christ, and be transformed into His likeness, if we never spend one-on-one time with Him? I believe that for many, as was for me at one time, the answer lies in our viewing God as more of a politician than our beloved God and best friend. (Prov. 18:24) We believe He exists, and we agree that He is God. In a nutshell, we would even vote for Him if He were up for re-election. We nod our head in agreement to His Word, and generally like what He has to offer us. We sing songs that praise Him. We may study about Him and discuss His attributes. We desire to live rightly before Him…but we never even invite Him for dinner. We don’t KNOW Him.
Christ says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Rev. 3:20). My friends–He is at the door! He is not a distant Power, a Ruler that we should merely give lip-service to, or hold up a sign in support of. No, He is the Lover of our soul, and we must make every effort to spend time alone with Him, to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8). We must seek the intimacy that He died to give us, so that like Enoch, we can walk with our God (Gen. 5:22).
To do this we must attach ourselves constantly to the vine, just as it says in John 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
If the branch thinks it can remain alive for long without being embedded in the vine, it is sorely mistaken. In the same way, a relationship with Christ lacking intimate times of solitude chokes and becomes brittle. Soon it dries up altogether. A dried-up branch is good for nothing, and its fruit soon withers. This assumes that it has ever had a chance to grow at all.
So today, let us confess to our God that we have not spent the time to get to know Him like we need to. Let us admit that we allow the business of life to overshadow the most important intimacy there is. And let us through the study of His Word, through prayer, through worship and through simple reverent silence, “draw near to Him that He may draw near to us.” (James 4:8a).
Finally, let us heed the words of David when he sang “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!”(1 Chron. 16:11); seeking regularly the solitude of intimacy with our God, that we might “find rest, O my soul, in God alone” (Psalm 62:5).