During lunch at one of my favorite haunts, Barnes & Noble, I came across a book on the works of Henri Nouwen, “Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith.”
I am quoting from the book. “The spiritual life rests on a paradox, says Henri: “Without solitude, it is virtually impossible to live the spiritual life.” Yet we cannot live our spiritual lives alone. Although we need solitude to know God, we require a faithful community to hold us accountable. We need to learn how to listen to the word of God, ever present within our hearts. We need disciplines of study and spiritual practice to discern the word of God in words of scripture. We need a church or faith community that provides opportunities for worshiping and sharing, engaging in mutual correction and bearing of burdens, confessing faults, offering forgiveness, and celebrating life. We also need guides: spiritual friends, a spiritual director, or a spiritual accountability group that can function for us as a safe place to bear our souls.” [i]
I will tell you first off—I am not preaching to anyone. But I will share with you what hit me square in the nose and a bit of my own experiences.
We have always been a church going family. I was raised in church—Jeff was as well. We raised our girls in the same manner. If the church doors are open, we are there. However, there was one time in our lives, when faced with some harsh realities of life, we neglected that bond of close relationships. Very few were allowed into our world of heartache. I feel like I mostly carried the burden of that trauma or drama alone. This was completely my own choosing. I know without doubt, there were many sisters in Christ who would have gladly stood by me in whatever ordeal I was facing and prayed me right through. But I chose to seperate myself from my church family. I chose the hard road. I created an even harder battle for myself through this decision.
I allowed the enemy to taunt me with the lie that I was the “only” one that had faced the crisis of a rebellious teenager–that it was somehow my own fault–that ‘everyone’ was talking about it even! In the small community where we lived, we were blessed to have the awesome church and church family—they were and are beyond what you could imagine.
I had the godly counsel of one particular woman, Bobbi Seddon. She and her husband, George took it upon themselves to pray daily for our prodigal daughter. She asked for a picture of our child and they prayed over this picture every single morning at 5:00 a.m. Bobbi loved me back into the fold. When we missed church, she would call. It’s not that we layed out every Sunday, but we missed enough that it was felt in my own spirit. Church was exactly what we needed.
Solitude is needed as well. The right kind.
The right kind is patterned after Jesus’ life. A specific choosing of time to get away with the Father. A time of prayer. And, if you feel directed, a time of fasting. A time of study in the Word, and a time of seeking the Author of the Word. Solitude just for the sake of “getting away to shop” is not the directive here. If the enemy has his way, any solitude you have will be eaten up in a pity party of your current circumstances. He’ll even bring the chips…and you will eat so much of his rotten lies that you will be sick. I know. I’ve carried the belly-ache of his lies myself.
In every crisis I have faced, God has carried me through. He has never failed. He has planted my feet in a firm place–and gave me peace–even in the most torrential storm of my life.
I ask you today—are you having true solitude with HIM? Are you neglecting your walk with others in Christ? You are the only one who can change that. Sister, I don’t know what you face–but I have seen many things, and know others who’ve seen many more. God doesn’t fail. Ever. Take Him your marriage that’s failing, your child that’s runaway. your job that’s ending, your health that’s declining, your finances that are shrinking, or your loved one that is dying. Take Him the hardest task of your life and give it up to Him.
Don’t offer Him suggestions as to how it would work best for you…for He alone knows what is best.
Accept the deal He offers.
Accept Him at His word.
His word brings peace. Life. Hope. Eternity.
Make a start this Sunday. A perfect way to spend the day we celebrate as Easter. The day He arose from the tomb! No longer dead–but Alive! Start now! Get in a good church–find someone to talk to before you leave–tell them your name. Ask them theirs! And keep going back. Everytime.
Get alone with Him. Daily. And when it’s possible, take a whole day and spend “with” Him–in His word—talking, praising, singing, worshiping Him. It will radically change your life!
[i] His writings were compiled by Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird and published by HarperOne, a division of Harper Collins Publishing.
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