The sweet silence of solitude.
Low tide here exposes a stretch of sand which is lovely to walk on. Usually I am here first thing in the morning before the waves of humanity sweep onto the beach. Shared with seagulls and a few deliriously contented dogs, there is a quiet peace. Even the wavelets scarcely disturb the gentleness of solitude.
I’ve been busy this week teaching a short course on personality and spirituality; and another looking at the “Heroes of Faith” who have walked faithfully before us. Great subjects taught to keen people. Fulfilling for me, apparently inspiring for them.
Taking a brief time alone the next morning was so good. My body was complaining a bit-when I do activities without taking enough rest, then the grumbles begin.
Restoring the soul with silent solitude works because it places me physically where I can encounter Love, becoming aware of the Presence of the Lord. Busy living has a way of squeezing peace and joy into a sour soup of weariness. By straining out the twisted fibres of stress, solitude acts as a re-balancing time where grace can sooth the pain.
There was such a peacefulness on the beach today. May we all hear the kind invitation of Jesus to come and share in wholeness.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT2)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
There are two kinds of solitude in the Bible. The good kind, where a person seeks God and in solitude discovers that the Lord Almighty is willing to engage with a sincere searcher.
Then the other solitude- the loneliness of exile, judgment and despair.
Owls feature only a few times in the Old Testament, and usually as a representation of the second kind of solitude. (This owl was in captivity… appropriately!)
The little-known message of Zephaniah is a message of judgment and encouragement with three major reminders:
- 1) God is sovereign over all nations.
- 2) The wicked will be punished and the righteous will be vindicated.
- 3) God blesses those who repent and trust in Him.
It seems that solitude is an inevitable part of life. Either we willingly seek out God, or we risk being “quarantined” and watching all our accomplishments be overrun by the wild.
Listening to world news and international politicians is worrying. It may be an over-simplification, but society has discarded its faith-roots and fallen into a moral decay. This is not unique to our time. Human nature throughout history has been a rollercoaster of civilisation and collapse. Our ultimate and only hope is that the Sovereign Lord God will deliver us; Christ “ushered in” the Kingdom of God and we wait and work for its promise to reach fulfilment.
What should we do? Pray with sincere hearts for our world and its leaders.
Secondly: decide personally whether we wish to choose solitude to discover God- or suffer the solitude of banishment. That could be considered the “naughty step” where we go to think about our conduct and attitude in the hope we might be forgiven and rescued.
Owls tend to be quite solitary creatures. They say owls are wise. What would they say privately in the ear of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and public servants?
Read Zephaniah in full- it is only short- and take in the promise of justice alongside the hope of mercy.