Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. (Pro 18:1)
I am often called a hermit by my family and peers. I shy away from social situations as much as possible. I am most comfortable in quiet settings, often desiring to be alone with my hobbies or my own thoughts.
Three years ago I moved out of the office suite I shared with my co-workers and into a workroom/office isolated from the department – and I just love it. A frequent comment I get from visitors is, “Man this place is quiet! How can you stand it?” My pat answer is simply “Four kids.” They nod in sympathetic understanding and leave me be.
I like solitude!
I blog much better when left undisturbed for great volumes of time. (Hey, it takes my brain a while to get going, OK, leave me alone!) Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being around people, especially my family, but there are times I feel like withdrawing into an inner sanctum away from the chaos of everyday living. These urges are frequent. Sometimes I am able to indulge, but often I can’t. For this reason I tend to stay up way past a normal bedtime on work nights – Just so I can have some quality ‘me time’.
Hmmm, ‘me time’. That sounds awfully selfish doesn’t it? I wonder if the bible has anything to say about the lawfulness of ‘me ti’- oh yeah, what about that proverb I quoted at the top?
This short, concise scripture stunned me when I came across it earlier in the week during my daily reading time. I immediately understood its meaning, feeling the blade of God’s word piercing deep, bringing conviction over my blatant carnality.
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desires.
Translated into the PPV (Peculiar Pilgrim Version) it thus reads: Brandon, when you seek solitude you are just looking for opportunity to do whatever you feel like undisturbed and uncontested.
But wait! There’s more.
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Again, from the PPV: Isolation breeds a kind of arrogance and self-reliance over time. Brandon, if left to yourself, you will reject wise counsel. Your wisdom becomes the only wisdom – for no one is allowed to judge it.
Ready to hear my self-justifying excus- (ahem!) I mean reasonings?
“I spend my time reading and contemplating biblical matters. I am doing kingdom work.”
Well, first of all – no I don’t. I mean, not nearly as much as I should, anyway. Much of my ‘me time’ is spent playing video games, (more than I care to admit) or watching TV (news and football mostly). After indulging those activities I will settle in and read or study. Do you see the problem here? My priorities are backward. Self gets the prime time cut while God gets the scraps.
Ok, conscience and common sense has sliced that defense to pieces.
Let’s try this.
The scriptures themselves support my habits.
In my case I would thrust Matthew 14:13 in your face.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
Jesus withdrew from crowds so he could have time alone.
See?! If it’s good for the Lord himself to be alone, It’s more than good enough for me too. Solitude is a biblical mandate to help maintain a healthy, balanced spiritual life.
Hmmmphh! I have laid my trump card down. Take that!
Oh, except my ace turns out to be a joker and he’s laughing me to scorn. Is that a devilish grin I see on his face?
I can hear the voice of conscience quietly raising an objection. ‘But what did Jesus do with his solitude? Well, see – I guess I didn’t read that far into the text. (Grins sheepishly).
Conscience is not moved by my wiles. ‘If you use Jesus as your example of godliness then it follows you would not only withdraw from the people but would also do what he does when alone? So, again what does the text say?’
Hmmm, let’s read from a couple of passages:
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mar 1:35)
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luk 5:15-16)
Ok, I give up. Put away the big guns. Scripture has slain my self-righteousness once again. I see clearly now. Jesus didn’t withdraw to catch the game or watch the hottest new TV show. He did something that every person living through every generation is still capable of doing:
Pray to God in heaven!
He never used his solitude to indulge his own desires. His focus was upon His heavenly Father. I’m sure he used his devotion time to seek the Father’s will and to pray for his disciples and the multitudes who sought him for healing and to hear his preaching. In doing so, Jesus fulfilled all the law and the prophets by first loving the Lord God with all his heart, all his mind and with all his strength and then loving others as himself.
Like I wrote earlier, If it’s good enough for Jesus it’s certainly good enough for me. We must look at solitude as a gift from God that should not be wasted in frivolous carnal pursuits, but as a time for reflection and focus upon the Lord God and his goodness, upon his word and his will, to help keep us anchored when we enter back into the maelstrom of daily activities. Solitude is the breaking up of the clouds of noise and activity where we can behold the majestic beauty of the heavenlies and hearken upon the voice of God as he speaks his wisdom to us through his precious word. Solitude is a precious time for us to tell him of our fears, hopes and desires; to call upon his grace to empower us to endure the temptations and trials we must face.
Don’t let the fleeting moments of one-on-one time slip away. It is a gift! Take advantage and bring glory to God in your devotion to Him. Don’t breakout against sound wisdom. Turn ‘me time’ into ‘He time’. After a season alone with God, join again with the masses and minister to them just as Jesus did.