Silence and Solitude

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:22-23 ESV). It’s surprising how loud silence can be, especially when you’re not used to it. That’s my experience when I find myself by a quiet stream or sitting in a tree during hunting season. When I am alone in the woods, it is silent. The only sounds come from the natural unfolding of the day as nature goes about its way. It is then that my soul is decompressing from the daily grind of life. Body and soul find fresh air there that is hard to come by otherwise. So, today I want you to join me in some silent, occasional solitude of your own. You need a break from the chaos, from the noise and the crowds, more than you may think at first. You need the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. We are humans, not machines. We were made for rhythms of silence and noise, community and solitude. It is unhealthy to always have people around, as well as to rarely want them. God made us for cycles and seasons, for routines and cadences. From the dawn of time, we have needed our respites. Even Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (cf. Matthew 4:1), “went out to a desolate place” (cf. Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray alone” (Matthew 14:23). Getting away from time to time has always been a human necessity, but it’s all the more pressing in modern life. By all accounts, things are more crowded, and noisier, than they’ve ever been. One of the singular challenges in our culture of technology and its ever-increasing advancement is a greater temptation to avoid quietness. It is so easy for us to become addicted to noise. Sometimes I catch myself thoughtlessly flipping on the radio every time in the car. On occasion I’ll turn it off and try to consciously be mindful of God and pray. In the middle of a busy week, it’s remarkable how strange, and wonderful, the silence can be. And so the excesses and drawbacks of modern life have only increased the value of silence and solitude as spiritual disciplines. We need to get alone and be quiet more than ever before. You may not be able to take an extended trip to one of the great natural parks in our country, or you may not have access to a quiet stream or forest vista; however, you can find silence with intentional planning. Do that today and God will show up in an incredible...

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