Our calendars betray what we believe about boundaries. We know the importance of spending time with family and friends, and we talk about planning more time with God, but we get busy with day to day routines at school, or work, or church, and we are simply too tired to give any more, to anyone at the end of our day. Even the subject of taking a break or getting away puts most of us on the defensive. It confronts our difficulty with discipline, our need to blame the calendar, our need to get our self-worth from what we produce.
But God’s invitation for you to get away with Him is not about something you must do, it is about coming to grips with who, and whose, you really are. It’s an invitation to be with the lover of your soul. My friend, Rich Hurst says, “It’s taking the time to quiet all of the internal noises we listen to, and to separate ourselves from the people who cling to us and the routines to which we cling.” Rich calls this the real meaning of “Sabbath.”
Matthew 11:28-30 expresses Christ’s desire for us, and the Message translation puts it in layman’s terms: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Those who have gone through The 210 Project know, that after completing the assessments that helped you determine your strengths, gifts, and passion, a day of solitude with God was recommended. Those who follow-through with this assignment know that the time is truly God ordained. He has things to say to you and He desires that we learn to stop, learn to listen, and understand what it means to “be at home” with God.
Our day of solitude brings us face to face with God, confronting the busyness and stress of life that threatens our intimacy with Him. In solitude with Him, we find the balance for our life that God designed. If practiced regularly, we will experience a growing desire and discipline for reading the Word, praying, meditating on His promises and even fasting, as we seek our Father’s guidance for our lives. We experience His still, quiet Voice, and we hunger for more.
Be prepared. The world will not delight in your taking a day of solitude. We have been trained not to appear to have wasted time. Think about the last vacation you took and the first question asked upon your return to work – “What did you do?” We immediately begin to run down the list of daily activities to assure the questioner that the “vacation” was a good use of our time. But remember, God’s love for you is not measured by the length of your ‘to do’ list!
Be intentional. The most practical advice I can give you is to buy a red pen, take out your calendar, and put an ‘X’ at regular intervals that say to the world and to yourself, “I am closed here.” Determine a location that is far enough away to shut out distractions, but close enough so that distance doesn’t become an obstacle to your day of solitude with God.
It’s about listening, not doing. Take your Bible, a notebook, and pen, and be ready to hear from God as you pray, read His love letters to you, and quietly wait for Him to speak. The result, from personal experience, is life-transforming.
It’s about focusing on the One who created you, redeemed you, and desires to give you life more abundantly here and now. And, it all begins with a full day devoted totally to Him who says, “Be still, and know that I AM God.”
Carmen Pate is a Principal with Alliance Ministries. Learn more about The 210 Project and a day of solitude at www.alliance-ministries.org