Season of Solitude
This week I’m running some of my all-time favorite posts as I prepare for the She Speaks Writer’s conference. Thanks to all of you who are praying for me and for the many, many people who are new subscribers to my blog. You bless me, man!!!!!! (wipes tears).
“Be grateful that God is lovingly drawing you away from every distraction so that you can see him clearly. Rather than chafing and fighting, be still and wait.”~Richard J. Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
Last year at this time, my life was very silent. After having babies, toddlers and preschoolers at home for ten years, my youngest boy was joining his older sister at elementary school, starting full day kindergarten.I had thought by the time school started, we would have already had our new daughter, whom we were in the process of adopting from Guatemala. But the adoption was taking months longer than expected. So what I thought would be April 2007 was looking more like September…October…November?We really had no idea.
Every day we waited for the call notifying us of our exit from the final Guatemalan court, so we could receive our travel date and get on with our lives.Now I found myself driving away from school, on that warm August morning…alone, (did I mention it was the first time in ten years?)contemplating how to make the best use of this gift of time.
~should I put five years of photos into albums?
~should I finish all the little decorating jobs around the house?
~should I re-edit my book manuscript and contact a few more publishers?
~should I help my friend launch the new Women’s Ministry program at church?
~should I reconnect with friends and family–like actually go out to lunch with a woman or make an uninterrupted phone call?
Oh, the possibilities!!!
Sad that I did not yet have my new baby, but excited about my first real free time in ten years (did I already say that?), I started anxiously diving into project after project.But something strange was happening. Every time I directed my attention toward an activity, I felt a “halt” deep in my gut. Like that icky feeling of, “this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”Almost like it was God was trying to tell me something. Imagine that.
As the days were passing me by, I became increasingly more frustrated and confused. Knowing this time was precious, I was striving to make the best possible use of it. But I just kept hitting this invisible brick wall.
What was up?
I started seriously seeking God for direction. I prayed, “God, what do you want me to do today?”
And He responded, “Just stay here and worship Me.”
So I did.The next day, I asked again and the answer was the same.
Now, here’s one thing you need to know about me: being a born communicator, I find it extremely difficult to sit for longer than about five minutes, unless I’m reading, writing or talking. Add to that a dose of “perfectionist” and a dash of “over-achiever”, not to mention a dollop of “extremely efficient” and it becomes downright impossible. Ask me to sit here for two whole days?? Not talk, not clean, not organize, not plan…Are you kidding me??????
Day three, four, five…”Seriously, God…I feel like I’m wasting this time. Not that sitting in your presence is wasting time…but, you know what I mean. I just feel so guilty sitting here and praying or worshiping all day. I don’t know what to tell people when they ask me what I did today…or why I can’t go to the meeting or help with the ministry. Besides, there are so many things I could be doing right now to get ready for this baby.”
And God responded, “I’m more concerned that you prepare your heart. Trust Me…this is time well-spent.“
Day six, day seven, day eight…”Uh, God…I’m loving just sitting in your presence, and all. But you do realize that once this baby comes it will be the year 2012 (!!!!!) before I will ever get a season like this again? Are you sure this is the best use of my time?”
“Oh, yes, I’m very sure.”
Day nine, day ten, day eleven…”OK, God. here I am. Apparently, and might I add–against my better judgment–this is how I’m spending this time. Is there at least something specific you want me to study? Something specific you want me to pray about? What exactly do you want me to do while I’m here?”
“Just sit in my presence, be still, and listen. I just want you to listen.”So listen, I did.Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Four and a half months, to be exact. Four and a half strange, glorious, silent months. Sitting at my kitchen table, with a candle burning, bible and journal open…pretty much all day, every day.
During that time, God revealed to me the importance of solitude. He showed me an aspect of His character I had not previously known: the gentle, quiet voice that comes only after prolonged time sitting and waiting in His presence.While speaking in faith and declaring His promises are powerful and effective, so are the times quietly contemplating His goodness and faithfulness. While preaching and fellowship are vital elements of a healthy walk with the Lord, so are silence and alone-ness.After walking with God for twenty-three years, I have learned to submit so many things into the hands of my Loving Father. But up until that time, I had never been asked to submit such a valuable gift of time, nor the precious gift of fellowship, so I could instead sit privately and secretly at His feet for…four and a half months.
Then the call finally came…we were out of the court and soon would be on an airplane picking up our beautiful Elliana. And while my heart rejoiced at the exciting adventure ahead of me and my family, it also ached.It ached because I knew that I wouldn’t have another season like this…a season of solitude…again until the year 2012.
Has God ever called you away to be silent in His presence? What was it like?
I love it when God calls me away to be silent with Him. There is nothing more precious.
So enjoying the earlier posts. I was actually one of the ten that was reading them but still enjoying them and enjoying the ministry of God through them!
Praying for you as you prepare for She Speaks…
This was a great reminder for me, as I am 4 weeks away from my own season of solitude. I often find myself wondering what I am going to do with myself while me kids are in school all day, and love your gentle reminder that I can just sit and contemplate and not try to plan everything in advance! 🙂 Have a wonderful time this weekend!