“Isolation is not the same thing as solitude.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 13, 2021
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)
Solitude teaches us how to truly socialize. The words social and society come from the Latin word for friend or companion, and so to socialize is to be a companion and friend to someone around you. And if you and I want to truly socialize with our friends, family, and neighbors, we must find a consistent and regular habit of getting away in prayer and reflection.
Before diving into the heart of his ministry with others, showing the world the most perfect form of socialization, Jesus entered into a time of solitude in the wilderness. However, Jesus’ solitude was not born out of escapism, but was a way for him to re-engage the world with a heart of love and compassion for others. We must learn to do the same!
Remember this: isolation is not the same thing as solitude. We get away from others, yet we do so with people on our hearts. If you’ve ever taken a retreat, likely your goal was to get as far away from others as you possibly could, both mentally and physically. So often, to “get away with God” means we do all we can to forget and leave behind our responsibilities, relationships, and concerns of daily life in order to discover “what really matters.”
Increasingly, I’m less and less convinced that this is the form of retreat our Lord desires for us to take.
Yes, we must find ways to recenter and reorient our lives around the will of the Father and his purpose for our lives, yet we do so with his people on our hearts. Love for others must remain at the heart of any time of retreat or solitude. I love the way Michael Ramsey put it when he said,
Jesus is ever with the Father with the world upon his heart. May we think of our own prayer as being for a while consciously with the Father, no more and no less than that? If we think of prayer thus we may find that the many aspects of prayer are embraced within the act of being in God’s presence…To be with God with others on the heart, that is intercession. The secret is the quest of God’s presence: ‘Thy face Lord will I seek.’
Who is the Lord asking you to keep on your heart? Whose burdens can you carry as your own, even in times of solitude and prayer? Let us seek the Lord in moments of quiet reflection and retreat, inviting him as we do to teach us to love others as we have been loved.
Father, in places of silence and stillness, would you renew within us a love for others and a desire to give our lives away for their good and your glory. Amen.
How can you engage a meaningful rhythm of solitude for the sake of others?
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