“Solitude is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”- Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”- Luke 5:16 (NIV)
In Chapter 8 (“The Cultivation of Solitude”) of Transforming Loneliness, Ruth Graham stresses that God made us for intimacy and connection with Him. Therefore, Ruth offers three practical suggestions for stepping into a time of solitude.
1. Start with words of praise. Here Ruth finds memorizing verses of the Psalms to be a very useful tool. Because when you offer words of praise to God, you focus on God rather than yourself. In addition, that spurs you to appreciate that God’s with you and you belong to Him.
2. Spend time with God. That involves time in prayer, in the Word, and in solitude. Hence, Ruth cites great advice from the writer of Hebrews. Above all, Ms. Graham highlights the word continually as the key word in this passage: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (NIV)
3. Keep Scripture readily available to you. Thus, commit Bible verses to memory. For doing so keeps your mind active and focused on God’s Word.
In conclusion, Ruth shifts her focus to the ultimate expert on cultivating solitude — Jesus. The Gospels record Jesus’ habit of stepping away to the wilderness, mountains, sea, and the garden. Clearly, then, Jesus placed a priority on spending time in solitude. After He sent the crowds away.
Finally, Ms. Graham applies this to us:
“Sometimes we have to send the ‘crowds’ away too. Though we might be lonely, our thoughts and worries and needs crowd our minds . . . . We, too, need to choose solitude with God and talk to Him. Not some fancy prayer, with big words and all theologically correct and formally composed and uttered. How stilted that would be! He wants us to just be ourselves . . . ”
Today’s question: How do you see solitude as the place where Christ remodels us? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The context of grace – enter solitude”