In a previous blog post, we described God as a restorer of souls. Specifically, we said that God is a God who gives us “refills for the soul”.
I strongly believe that one of the primary ways that God gives our souls these refills is through the essential habit of solitude.
When we study the life of Jesus, we find a common theme in his ministry routine that runs throughout the entire Gospels—Jesus withdrawing Himself to go to a solitary place.
Let’s talk for a moment about what solitude is not.
First, solitude is not isolation. Although solitude and isolation are often considered by many people to be the same thing, they in fact are not. Isolation is a state of being that’s produced from an unhealthy soul.
Isolation could simply be defined as the negative practice of withdrawal from relational connections with others. It’s choosing to neither give nor receive from others. Isolation isn’t the same thing as being alone. Some of the most isolated people in the world today are spouses, siblings, coworkers, etc. who are in fact very isolated despite being surrounded by people every single day. Generally, isolation is often attached to a lack of accountability, which eventually has dangerous consequences.
Secondly, solitude is not the same as simply taking a day off from work. It’s possible to take a day off, to go on vacation, yet never practice solitude during the time off.
So what exactly is solitude?
Solitude happens whenever we step away from the hustle and noise of life to intentionally replenish what we lost along the way. Solitude is intentionally withdrawing from anything or anyone seeking to get our attention so that we’re then able to turn our full attention towards God.
Solitude is similar to a racecar driver taking a pit stop. The racecar driver doesn’t pull over off-road just for the sake of pulling over. They use these pit stops to restore that which was lost along the race. Tires are replaced. Oil and other fluid levels are checked. The vehicle itself, along with the driver, is refilled back to its peak condition.
That’s what solitude does for us. It’s through this time of quiet reflection and stillness that God restores what is lost in our souls along the “racetrack” of life. It’s in this place of solitude that God begins to show us areas of our souls that need maintenance. It’s through conversations with Him in prayer that He begins to show us things about our hearts and souls that need to be tweaked so that we can become all that He desires for us to be.
Solitude is intentional. Vacations are great and for sure we need moments of fun and relaxation in our lives; but they should be in addition to moments of solitude. It’s possible to take a day off from work yet still be so busy doing laundry, checking off our to-do lists, that we never even take the time to have a solitary moment with God and ourselves.
In Psalms 46:10, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Apart from an intentional time of stillness, we will never know God any deeper than on a shallow, surface level.
One of the primary keys to Jesus’ success in ministry and life was His consistent habit of stillness through which He learned more about God and Himself. In fact, most of the men in the Bible who were greatly used by God in their generation all consistently practiced withdrawing away from the noise of life to meet with God.
David says in Psalms 23 that it’s beside the still waters that God will restore our souls.
I want to encourage you to consider making solitude a daily practice. Do it in small chunks of time. Take your Bible and journal with you. Pray, but also have moments of silence.
Your soul and your life will be in a much healthier place consistently if you do.