Solitude in the Secret Place: A Sanctuary for the Soul
Solitude. If you are a mum of young children, you would not be mistaken to think….what’s that? A retreat? That would be a rarity. The opportunities for sanctuary? They are sparse. And for many of us in whatever season of life, solitude is perhaps seldom experienced in this hectic modern world of ours.
This past week our family was been blessed to take a winter break away. We rested in a rustic farmhouse on a remote farm, surrounded by the stillness of lakes and mountains. Being mid-winter, the farmhouse was entrenched in deep snow. It was a gift to be able to play, build snowmen and ride sleds right on our doorstep. Just like my husband and I, I noticed that the children were calmer when they were free to run in the fresh country air and wide open spaces, surrounded by the silence of simply stunning scenery. I even had a chance to peruse a book called ‘Finding Sanctuary’. There was no wifi or cellphone coverage and the nearest neighbour was twenty minutes drive. In fact, I wrote this little devotional by hand in my writing journal.
But it’s not every week that we can escape it all and head off into the mountains. And when people do take time out, they often feel guilty. Women are very good at feeling guilty. We often feel like we should be working or doing something. We live in a society that glorifies being busy. Someone asks us how we are, and we say ‘busy.’ I am guilty of this all the time.
But we all need a retreat from daily life. Many of us crave solitude on a daily basis, especially if we are introverts and are re-energized by being on our own. Obviously the the search for solitude is a balancing act as we also need each other and are enriched by community. But if you are a mum of little ones you will know that you don’t often get a bathroom break without an audience!
In Credit or Debit?
Do you feel like you are in credit or in debit? When you are in credit you feel refreshed and renewed. Or are you in debit, running on empty, like many women do, worn down from the relentless demands of daily life? I know what it is like to feel like I am in debit. Weary. That I have nothing left to give. Is it solitude that you know, or are you more familiar with the familiar pattern of modern life, that of striving, stress and strain?
Come to the Well
When we are in the red, how can we get back into credit, so that we are refreshed to fulfil God’s plan for our lives? God’s plan for our life is not just that of doing and serving, although service is an important aspect. God’s plan is also one of simply being His child. And as His children we can practise just being, soaking in the well of His presence. God promises that when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).
Consider taking a retreat from daily life. If a retreat is not possible, can we carve out five to ten minutes or more a day where we can be still in God’s presence? The Bible talks about the importance of entering God’s rest – ‘for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his’. (Hebrews 4:10). We all crave for something. But if we crave intimacy with God this can fill us, so that we don’t look to the things of the world to fill us. The world is large, and displays God’s glory, however it is utterly unable to satisfy our hearts. Our souls can only be satisfied in the one true God.
Having a daily devotion is a battle. It is so much easier to watch the telly or surf social media. And if there is anything that the enemy wants to rob us of, it is time spent with God in prayer and in His word. Distractions are numerous and it is a discipline to be still before God, to read His word, pray and contemplate Him, to seek His face and not just His hand. I could be better at this and by God’s grace this is an area that I can improve in. I know that if I spend time in God’s presence it makes me a better wife, mother, worker and friend. When we come to the well, we find wellness, spiritual, emotional and even physical wellness.
The water that we drank from the farmhouse taps this week was so pure and refreshing. It came from a nearby spring and it was so unlike the water that we have at home in the city. It reminded me that we are all thirsty. But it is not just physical water that we are thirsty for.
Isaiah 55:1-3 is an invitation for the thirsty to come to Him and to have our thirst quenched. If we read Revelation 22:17 it is also an invitation to the thirsty. ‘Come, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Whether we have spent a week in retreat on a remote farm or we are at home, or work, we can find sanctuary in our souls if we know the peace of Christ in our hearts. Even if we are in traffic, or if it is 5 o’clock and the kids are melting down. If we have spent time in His presence the bank account of our hearts will be in credit.
As we read in Psalm 139:7-10, where can we go from the Spirit of God? He is always with us. Biblically speaking, solitude is a valuable practice. We can ‘be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10), and we can come into the secret place that the Bible frequently talks of, a place of intimacy with God. God has a secret hiding place and He invites each of us to dwell there. It is not a physical place, it is a state of spiritual rest that is regardless of our circumstances. Psalm 91: 1 says that ‘He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” May we come into the secret place today.