I took this picture of my niece mesmerized by the deer in the distance. (Also, she hikes in a bow).

A couple weeks ago I went away for a quiet retreat. The Lord had been nudging me toward a time of solitude, but you know how that goes—things were BUSY. And loud. And moving fast. And you know what? I can get really comfortable with that fast pace because…

busyness covers a bunch of STUFF.

You know what I mean?

When we’re sprinting from thing to thing—running around in a frenzy or intentionally stacking our calendars—the busyness can become an escape. And it’s easy to excuse our disconnect with God by falling back on how much there is to do!, which makes this all so sneaky. I am guilty of this. But I made the time to get away and I’m so thankful I did. Here are a few things I learned from my time of solitude:

  • Silence allows the chatter that’s deep in our souls to surface. I didn’t realize some of the fears and anxieties I was using busyness to shove back down until I unplugged for a time. As the fears percolated the Lord reminded me of the difference between True Safety versus False Security. In Psalm 16:1 David cries out to God for safety because he had made God his refuge (true safety). I began journaling about all the things I sometimes make my refuge: relationships, social media, financial security, personal devices, entertainment, my career (false security)… It took the quiet to reveal my fears and the quiet to reveal the Lord’s remedy for those fears. I’m still working through them, but they’re out in the open before the Lord now, as opposed to being covered up by a packed schedule.
  • The Lord is pleased when we set aside time to seek Him. I’ve been spending time in various parts of the Old Testament recently and am reminded continually that God desires His people to love Him with their heart, soul, strength and mind. For me, stepping away from the normal routine, daily relationships and too many iPhone checks a day was a way of showing God that I love Him. That He is worth my sole attention and affection. Being that I am forever recovering from legalism, it’s important to note that I didn’t get away to earn the Lord’s love—I can fall into that trap too. But this time I was truly expectant to spend time in His Presence, even if I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I took prayer walks, journaled and meditated on Scripture I sensed His pleasure.
  • Solitude is the landscape wherein God shows you what you otherwise wouldn’t know is there. Like sitting silently in the woods waiting for creatures to crawl out of crevices or alight onto branches, so waiting in God’s presence reveals what’s often obscured when we’re in a rush. I had a piece of paper for each family member and friend I was praying for. I felt led to write different prayers for each person, some prayers that felt expected and others the Lord impressed upon my heart that surprised me. Also, the Holy Spirit brought up a conversation He wanted me to have with a loved one about something I would have never seen a need for on my own. When I came home I had that conversation that was both uncomfortable and healing. The Lord knew.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was only away and fully unplugged for about 28 hours. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I spent a month fasting while hiking the Appalachian Trail in sackcloth. But it was a start for me and I was thinking you might be encouraged to start with some time of solitude yourself, even if it’s for an hour or two this week. Just make a plan and stick to it. Set aside the time to pray, read Scripture, worship and journal what the Holy Spirit reveals to you. Find the quiet. Make the quiet.

Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.