Nov 19, 2012

Solitude: Green Pastures in Chaos

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
This past Sunday John Opalewski was speaking at The Well. I couldn't help but relate everything he said to being a mom because that is where I naturally go in my head when I picture daily chaos. (Anybody there with me? Let's get real...) I've heard Psalm 23 read at many funerals, but the author David wasn't prepping for his eulogy when he wrote it! He was running for his life, hiding in caves to escape a madman, his king! How could he have painted such a serene and peace-filled picture during such a time of great turmoil in his life?

Solitude. David as a young man used to spend much of his time alone as a shepherd; just himself, some sheep and his God. We too can have the Psalmist's outlook as we steal away to meet with our Savior, the Good Shepherd.

I took some notes during John's sermon about the importance and benefits of solitude with God. As I already mentioned, I related it to being a mom. See if you too can relate! Here they are:
David uses two metaphors about God in Psalm 23: God as a Shepherd and as a Provider.
As a Shepherd God will never fail you; you will never lack anything that is necessary and good for your life. He will lead you to solitary places of refreshing. Disconnect from daily duties to meet with God. In your quiet times with God you will find restoration of the soul; rejuvenation, strength, and direction from God that brings him glory. (And all the moms said, "Amen"...)
As a Gracious Provider God prepares a table for me in the presence of your enemies. Eating a meal surrounded by foes--doesn't this sound like the lioness and her family described in chapter 9 of Lisa Bevere's Lioness Arising?
God anoints us with oil--usually this was done in David's time for a welcomed guest or a priest. Have you ever considered the hospitality of God? He enjoyed spending time with David. God didn't merely 'put-up' with him; He actually liked David. Some of us think that God just tolerates us. But He LOVES spending time with you!
Provision that came from solitude provided David with everything that he needed.
As human beings we are prone to anxiety and we need constant refreshing. You will find this in quiet time spent with God.
God doesn't want us to be in a hurry. His Word, His presence, prayer and worship is green pasture for our soul. He wants you to linger there, to park yourself there. It is in those alone times that He refreshes us.
God dispels fear in places of solitude. Getting alone with Him helps you feel closer to Him and when you are closer to God, fear is put in it's place--under your feet. He grants us supernatural peace in solitude. When you live out of the overflow of time spent with God it is possible to have peace amidst chaos. The more stressful the season, the more alone time you need with Him--not the opposite.
God gives us clear direction in places of solitude. He clarifies what it is He wants us to do and when we do what He wants us to do it brings Him glory. God doesn't make us guess and go it alone. Let God speak to you. You will hear His voice when you quiet yourself before God. You can talk to other people till the ends of the earth but you need to hear from God. If you seek first His Kingdom then everything else you need will be added.
God builds our confidence in places of solitude. We discover that God's goodness and love is with us, that we can walk hand-in-hand with Him. We we know that God is with us it gives us courage.
All these things come to us in abundance when we follow God to green pastures. He saved you to have a relationship with you. When you respond to that, there is rejuvenation for your soul. But you have to draw near.
Doesn't solitude sound wonderful? It's not easy. John warned us ahead of time that it is counter-cultural. We are constantly surrounded by busy and noise and solitude is ever fleeting for a mom. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day at times. But it's so crucial! Make every effort to meet with Jesus. The time and place will vary differently for every person and you may need to ask God for guidance in finding that quiet place. Think of the people in the Bible who did this and the impact they had on their world because of it: Moses, Mary (Martha's sister), Jesus. We can make all the excuses in the world but in the end, you know we always make time for what matters. Make this a priority and I guarantee you will find treasure in the secret place that will greatly enrich your life and those around you.

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