Category Archives: Solitude

I am Camping for Solitude with God

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place— Psalm 8:1,4a

My sabbatical this summer includes hiking in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, in our beautiful national parks, a few nights alone and a few with a son. I watched the Ken Burns documentary on these parks, and loved learning about how people reacted to their beauty when they saw it for the first time.

For example, John Muir felt that: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

This picture was taken by Anreas Ronningen. Andreas Rønningen



Lord, I have shut the Door

He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD. 2 Kings 4:33

Lord, I have shut the door
Speak now the word
Which in the din and throng
Could not be heard
Hushed now my inner heart
Whisper Thy will
While I have come apart
While all is still
Lord, I have shut the door
Here do I bow
Speak, for my soul attent
Turns to Thee now
Rebuke Thou what is vain
Counsel my soul
Thy holy will reveal
My will control
In this blest quietness
Clamorings cease
Here in Thy presence dwells
Infinite peace
Yonder, the strife and cry
Yonder, the sin
Lord, I have shut the door
Thou art within!
Lord, I have shut the door
Strengthen my heart
Yonder awaits the task
I share a part
Only through grace bestowed
May I be true
Here, while alone with Thee
My strength renew


What is the Key to Keeping Your Gospel Sanity?

When we are most vulnerable, we must practice the spiritual discipline of solitude. By solitude I mean to quiet our thoughts and to have no other gods before God and His Presence, which the first commandment.

When are we most vulnerable, yet most in need of Gospel to be strengthened for the day? IMG_2702 (1)

It is in the early morning when we first awake.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it.  It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.   All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind”  (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Book IV Chapter 8)

Every morning we are so easily seduced from a simple and pure devotion to Christ  (II Corinthians 11:3) by our own anxious thoughts and thirsty demands (“fussings and frettings”) that rush in upon us, and by Satan’s substitutes that appeal to our autonomous default mode. “Keep your head in all situations,” said the apostle Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy. How shall we ever do that?

Practicing solitude in the morning when we rise requires self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) wherein we renounce Satan’s lies and accusations and refuse to be ruled by urgent impulses that thrust us forward and compel us to run ahead without the Presence of God and Gospel Manna (i.e. Moses in Acts 7:23-29).

Pentecostal Outpourings

Open the Door to Rest

Blaise Pascal, the remarkable scientist, theologian and Christian of the seventeenth century, remarked in his Pensees (section 136) that “all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own room . . . Hence it comes people so much love noise and stir . . . IMG_2535hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible . . . and always to fancy that the satisfaction which they do not have will come to them if, by surmounting whatever difficulties confront them, they can thereby open the door to rest.”

I spent time with the Lord in this sanctuary off the noisy streets of Medellin, Colombia in order to enjoy silence. Just as air is to us to breath, so silence a “door to open into rest.”

As I write this, I am in a noisy airport in Amsterdam en route to Delhi, India. If you want a silent place here, one must purchase it in a lounge where only an occasional clink of a spoon on a cup is heard. Silence is sold these days, but in large cities we may still find sanctuary in beautiful, old churches.

Pascal quoted in Ruth Haley Barton; Dallas Willard. Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence (Kindle Locations 45-46).

Solitude: Spring is Dawning

“All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays.”

IMG_2863It is almost springtime and summer is coming, when God faithfully brings renewed expressions of new life in every thing we see. Everything living thing receives from His gracious involvement exactly what was waited for, and then expresses praise to the Lord. The trees, corn, and beans of the field show colors. The birds, squirrels, and rabbits make their sounds. Everything is shot through with glory. Creation relinquishes control to the One whose presence is the bedrock of its being. How shall we join in the chorus of praise?

I met an unhappy man, who could not sit quietly in his living room—a room with a view. He could not sit in a park without being diverted by a gnawing sense that he was wasting his time, so he constantly turned to diversion to keep himself from solitude. Hence it was, for him, that the pleasure and joy of solitude was a thing incomprehensible. Every true Christian is strengthened, not weakened, by solitude with God.

For those who do not understand our evil age and desperate situation, the spiritual discipline of solitude may look strange or too simplistic. To those who discover rest for their souls by practicing of solitude with a Bible and journal, however, these true believers find it absolutely necessary.

Solitude, waiting and trusting for God’s grace to transform and shape us into those created for His praise, can produce the springtime of spiritual transformation. Solitude is the springtime of transformation in which our souls are watered with God’s Word and Spirit. It is where we feel safe to no longer form layers of bark around our souls for protection against the world’s elements and diversions. It is the place of great gospel encounter, where a new sense of the light and warmth of the Son rises upon us with healing power. There in the warm and safe presence of God, Jesus awakens new life to a dormant saint after a long, wintery season.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son of above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!