A story is told of an American traveler who planned a safari to Africa. He hired some local people to help carry some of the traveler’s supplies as they trekked throughout the land.
On the first morning, they all woke up early and traveled fast and covered a great distance. The second morning was the same—woke up early, traveled fast, and traveled far. Third morning, same thing. But on the fourth morning, the local hired help refused to move. Instead, they sat by a tree in the shade well into the morning. The American traveler became incensed and irate and said to his translator, “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what’s going on here?” The translator looked at him and calmly answered, “They’re waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.” Terry Hershey, Sacred Necessities: Gifts for Living with Passion, Purpose, and Grace, 68-69.
We live in a fast-paced world. We are always rushing from one appointment to another. We wake up to get the children ready, drive them to school, and then go to work. Some of us spend the days in meetings, while others are driving children all over the city. Cooking, cleaning, and laundry duties await us upon our return home. The 24-hour days seem like they are too short. If only the day was 3 more hours longer, I would accomplish more, so we think. Life is traveling at supersonic speeds, affording us little time for anything else.
Since reading the book, First, Things First, by Steve Covey, I have been convicted to reorganize my calendar. Since then, I set a goal to practice solitude. What is solitude? Solitude is intentional time to be alone to reflect on life, pray, and mediate on God’s Word. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Jesus was in the habit of withdrawing from people, to be alone. He found it necessary to go to a solitary place to pray. Since I started taking time for solitude, I have found it to be a great personal blessing.
I come back refreshed, recharged, rejuvenated, and invigorated for ministry and service. Over the last six months, God has affirmed me in many ways through spending time with Him. I used to fill my calendar with one meeting after another. Since taking time for solitude, I now plan my schedule better, starting with the most important things. I prioritize my appointments based on my life values. My life values are: my relationship with God; my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my family; and then my ministry.
The African helpers mentioned earlier, were not necessarily tired, they just wanted to slow down their fast paced lives. In the same way, solitude, stops us so that our souls can catch up. Our lightning speed lifestyles are detrimental to our spiritual growth. Through solitude, God has an opportunity to heal, restore, and refresh our souls. God can get through to us. Solitude helps put things into perspective – the world does not need me. The world can function quite well without me and my input! What a sober fact.
- Do you take time to meet with God every day?
- How valuable is your time with God?
- What do you do to make your time with God fruitful?
- Do you use a commentary, devotional book, writing pad, and the Bible?
- Do you have an accountability partner?
- What can you say has been the biggest reward of meeting with God?
- If you are not setting aside time to meet with God, what is stopping you?
- How can you overcome those obstacles?
- Where can you go to get away, so you can get closer to God?