“Solitude and stillness create space for the spirit of God to speak.”
As soon as my pastor said the words, I started squirming.
I’m terrible at resting, being still, and seeking solitude. I like to go and do, rather than stay and be. I’m an expert multi-tasker, and I tend to overload my plate. Most days I rock my to-do list, but it’s totally the boss of me. I tend to run on less than half a tank, and I feel weary often.
Resting makes me restless.
Yet, something about my pastor’s words made me long for quiet and solitude. And I kept feeling pulled toward the small inner voice saying, “Come to me, you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Because doers can only do so much.
My pastor went on to talk about Jesus’ need for solitude, so much so that He separated himself and spent time alone with His Father.
If the Son of Man needed to create this space, how much more do we?
I took a good long look at my life, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d rested well, completely unplugged from the noise and got alone for hours — days — just me and Jesus. It’s time most of us can’t afford, but if I’m honest with myself, I know this is mostly an excuse. If I can squeeze in a girl’s weekend once a year, surely I can make time to be alone a couple of days with God.
By that point during the sermon, I was begging for a quiet corner to confess.
Why is it that we think we can give to others without first receiving what is freely given to us?
I thought of the unanswered email in my inbox — the one with an invitation to get away for a weekend of solitude and solace, for rest and renewal. I hadn’t deleted the email, but I also hadn’t made room for it in my busy life and schedule.
Instead of seeing this as the indecision I thought it was, I saw it as something much more frightening: pride.
When we are too self-assured with our own abilities, we are drawing from a limited resource.
When we are too busy to stop and rest, we are too busy.
Three Reasons We Need Rest and Solitude
1. God made rest a priority
He rested after He worked. Jesus sought solitude and so should we.
2. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness
When we take time to rest and seek God, we are acknowledging that we need His help. We weren’t meant to carry the weight of the world, but we often don’t realize how badly we need rest until we take it.
3. Respite gives us the opportunity to hear God
More than anything, I want to hear God. But in order to lean in and listen close, I have to be still and quiet.
Before I made it to the car that Sunday afternoon, I answered that email and said, “Please, let me come and rest.” Honestly, three days alone on a solitude retreat intimidates me. But it also excites me. I can’t wait to create the space for God to renew and speak to my soul.
How are you resting? Do you carve out times of solitude to be alone with God?
by Kristen Welch of We are THAT family blog and founder of Mercy House
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I just came back from an “unplugged” week at the beach. Every morning I rose and walked with God at the tides edge and tried not to talk so much and listen more. I had a peace about me. Granted I can’t go walking along the beach everyday, but I can find a quiet place, unplug, and spend time at the feet of Jesus. For me, it’s finding my favorite chair where the sun comes streaming in upon my face. Coffee in hand (a must), I try to sit and not let my mind wander to the day’s “to do” list – pulling myself back repeatedly if I have to do so. Even if it’s just a few minutes that day…my heart is refreshed when I spend quiet, restful time with Him. Thanks for the urging to keep up this habit!
Beth Williams says
So glad you got to get away and rest! The beach is a good place to just walk and be in the stillness of God. Sometimes we need to unplug and just be quiet to hear God in the still small of life!
Tomorrow!!!! I’m getting my day of rest tomorrow and I just can’t wait. I didn’t even realize it was happening until I checked everyone’s schedules and realized I’d have most of a Saturday HOME ALONE. That never happens but after a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, tough week where I’ve struggled and wrestled over many things, the timing couldn’t be better. (I’m thinking that God knew I would need this day right at this time and placed it on the calendar just for me…..) Part of me wants to make a to-do list, but I realize this is my opportunity to make a stay-and-be list. Journal, pen, Bible, tea, quiet sitting space….this is my plan for most of tomorrow. With working full time and two adult children still living at home, God usually has to shout pretty loud for me to be able to hear him over the natural noise I have in my life on a daily basis. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow…..
Beth Williams says
I pray you enjoyed your Saturday alone! I love being alone for a short time. I can walk and listen to preachers or Christian music. I can just be and not do anything for a time. It is my time with Jesus! I pray you can get more days like this in the future!
I did a study on rest a couple of years ago and was so struck by God not only declaring/creating Sabbath, but He blessed it and called it holy. THEN, He and Jesus modeled it so who was I to completely blow it off! It totally changed my perspective! May you make time for quiet rest!
Karen, I am currently doing a study on the Sabbath as well and what I am seeing is that it is a gift that God has given us for our own good. He patterned it from the beginning of time and made it holy. History and our current culture have diminished it. In our fast-paced society we need it more than ever. We can’t imagine one day of rest every week but the benefits are many!
Hi Kristen, You know I have moments like that too, when resting can make me restless. God has been teaching me the beauty of rest, of giving Him my burdens. I can’t quite describe it, but there’s a quiet, a settling in of sorts. Learning to embrace and celebrate simplicity and not fill my life and heart with so much excess “stuff.” Have a blessed time on your retreat.
Diana Fleenor says
Kristen and all, this past week or so I’ve been drawn to consider where I am in listening to the Lord. I am encouraged by your words as they continue to reinforce the idea that sitting still quietly with the Lord is essential to hearing His voice. Interestingly, I was pulled to focus upon this recently because of a couple of people who I regularly interact with tend to speak continuously without pausing to give the other a change to respond. As I was praying about these relationships, I was convicted of my own need to give the Lord time to respond to my questions, thoughts and requests. May your retreat bring you a word from the Lord that is fruitful in whatever way He deems best, whether it’s conviction or comfort or both.
This confirmed for me what God laid on my heart weeks ago. I’ve been trying to find time to plan a weekend get away from everyone to reconnect with God. I desire a much closer relationship with Him. One I have not put much effort into for a long time now simply because I’ve allowed the cares of the world, and life to get in the way and made so many excuses. I needed this. Thank you for allowing God to use you.
Angela Bell says
This came at just the right time for me, right in the middle of me freaking out about all I HAVE to do presumably NOW. But I don’t really HAVE to do it ALL right NOW. Nor can I. Today I can do as much as God’s grace will cover. The rest can wait. Yes, wait. And this week-end, some alone with Jesus time might be in order to get that re-stamped in my mind and heart. One day at a time sweet Jesus…
Beth Williams says
Yes! Some of it can wait! Time alone with God is essential to recharging your mind, soul and body. Then we can go back and tackle those tasks. Even Jesus went to be alone in solitude before hitting the crowds again! If He needed to this-how much more you and I in this crazy sin-filled world!
Hannah Smith Hall says
Hi Kristen, lovely post.
I found a verse several months back that changed a lot of my perspective on rest. At the time, “rest” was all four kids quiet in their beds–then I could rest. It’s not hard to imagine that when that didn’t happen–one needed to use the bathroom, someone forgot their blankie, another decided they were going to be afraid of the dark that night–I felt completely wiped, frustrated and like “I will never get any rest.” I hear myself say that often unfortunately…
However this verse: Luke 9:18, “Once when Jesus was praying in private AND HIS DISCIPLES WERE WITH HIM, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Caps mine.)
Even Jesus, as you say above, needed quiet and privacy. But even Jesus didn’t get it. Even Jesus had to enjoy God in private but WITH people.
I am trying to learn this art–enjoying God in private while my children run circles around my feet. It’s hard because it’s not what I have in mind when I usually think about rest. But he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty, right?!
I’ll take it. 🙂
Thank you for this post. Lovely, lovely.
Nancy Ruegg says
Wise insight, Hannah!
Hannah Smith Hall says
Thank you! And thank God that he let me see it. 🙂 It was so kind of him.
Diana Fleenor says
Hannah, I too appreciate you pointing this out of Jesus “private” prayers with His disciples. I pray that this ability to enjoy God privately even in the midst of noise will be cultivated in me as well!
Hannah Smith Hall says
I have to pray for it too, Diana, because I miss it most of the time. I’m too busy staying busy that I miss so many moments that I could be quiet and resting with him. Sigh. I have a long way to go in this Christian walk. Thank goodness He is faithful.
Nancy Ruegg says
My husband and I just retired a year ago. I’m finding quiet times sporadically throughout the day: 1) Bible study, devotional reading, and prayer; 2) praise and worship while driving in the car; 3) sitting in the quiet of the deck, listening to the birds, watching the sun spangle the leaves, feeling the breeze, 4) watering the plants and weeding–also a quiet, worshipful experience. We’re still plenty busy, especially with babysitting our granddaughter. But these moments of stillness throughout the week offer sweet peace and rest.
For the past week silence and solitude are words that have been following me.
They actually intimidate me. I am surrounded by a world that is moving so fast, there is constant simultaneous and noise all around me. I honestly don’t know what even a day of silence and solitude would do to me – in fact I struggle to unplug for even an hour.
I feel like this is going to be a journey with me and the Lord. A journey where I learn to rest in Him alone.
Thank you for your post, it has truly blessed me.
Thank you for the reminder! And so timely. Just today I wrote on my To-Do calendar for tomorrow NAP. It’s been a long, stressful week and I need the weekend to catch up on sleep and be still and hear from God. No agenda, just be led by Him…
Praying you experience closeness with Him and peace on your retreat.
Kristen, I am a huge Brennan Manning fan and he took long periods of time to get alone with the Lord and even to the point of making those times “quiet” as in no talking. Now, I don’t know about you but even when I’m alone I hear my mouth going!!! Some call that talking to themselves but I like to refer to it as talking to my Best Friend! Quiet retreats have to be good for soul. Even an afternoon in a hammock, unplugged, with a good, edifying book is a retreat – I’m dragging the hammock out of the attic this morning for such an escape today. Great post. xo
Karen Oliveira says
I go to Come Before Winter everytime it is in South America. Also I have been able to participate in the Continent Care Conection retreat that is offered every two years. Through these experiences I have learned to prioritize quiet time. I don´t often get away other than the retreats but I do make the best of times alone at home.
Mary@The Calm of His Presence says
Summer is suppose to be a time of rest but these last few weeks have been anything but restful. Thank you for this post! I will be marking out a day when the kids go back to school for a day of rest & listening to God.
Thank you for sharing these timely words. Like all of you who have read this post, I too struggle with finding quality time with Jesus. I observe a weekly Sabbath but even with my day of rest I am busy at church and with family. A day of total solitude with Jesus sounds so inviting and much needed. Thank you Kristen for helping us see the important of a retreat just with Jesus.
I recently found out I have a blood clot in my left leg…My husband had a knee replacement 2 weeks ago,and my 49 year old brother(who had never been sick),woke up about 2 months ago very ill and every week has some sort of setback.His wife has not left his side,as he is in hospital an hour and 45 minutes from our home…..with our parents being gone,I’m the only close relative he has,besides his wife and child….Very overwhelming,I pray so many times each day for us to get through this…just can’t find time to reast,hopefully soon…
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you and your family! May God bring healing and peace to you and all right now! I pray especially for your brother in the hospital. May the doctors find out what’s wrong!
Please help Rita and her family! Bring a calming peace over this family! Give them your healing touch! Help the doctors treat and heal her brother so he can go home. Help her husband recover from knee replacement and for the blood clot to leave her leg! Give them all healing of mind, body and soul!
Blessings from (Watauga TN)
Keri Lynn Siegel says
Good morning, As someone who used to always be in a hurry, but has been set free, I know where you are coming from. I assure you there is freedom in Christ. I was challenged in this area by someone who showed me that the reason I rushed even when I didn’t have to is because I was uncomfortable with me and I needed to see myself the way God sees me. They were right! When I fall back into those old compulsions, it’s usually because there’s something unsettled in me that I’m avoiding. Also, silence and solitude gives us the opportunity to hear God. It doesn’t guarantee we will. We have to want to hear Him, even when He brings conviction and correction. Really listening requires humble submission, not just obedience. When we obey, we do what God tells us even when our hearj isn’t in it. Submission is when our heart does what God tells us and it comes out through our actions. Be blessed. Keri Lynn Siegel
Beth Williams says
After my rough time last year dealing with my aging dad (90) & his many illnesses I desperately needed to unplug & recharge. It was either that or I was going to “explode”–just to much stress on me with full-time work in a medical clinic. June 30, 2015 I quit my job to be there more for my father. It has truly been a blessing. I’m busier, but oh so much happier and relaxed. Now I make time daily to listen to several radio preachers, attend church 2X weekly and be there for friends and dad. This has made life much better for me! Yes! I agree with unplugging and just being with God in the solitude!
Maggs Croom says
God did allow for me to get away for a little while and refresh myself in him. My time is up and I wish I would have connected more with him. I did pray and seek Him. I received some bad news as I prepare to go home but what I got out of this reflection time is that he would not put more on me than I can bear. I’m ready, for round 2. This was needed and God just refresh my spirit. I don’t know what to say I love Him.
Lisa Georgis Bunch says
God’s timing is always perfect. Kristen, you and Karina, and the folks at (in)courage filled my inbox today with the perfect messages I needed to hear. I don’t always take the time to open and read all the posts, but God must have known I needed to hear them today. REST, because I am weary. It doesn’t mean sleep. I’ve done enough of that lately. Sleeping to escape life’s trials is depression. Resting and SEEKING God is different. Taking the time to rest IN Him, means laying your burdens at his feet. Talk to Him and then LISTEN to Him. I have the same invitation to a weekend away for rest and renewal. I think it’s time to put it on my calendar.