The Discipline of Solitude

Regularly, though not as often as I would like, I wait until the business of the day is gone and the sky has darkened and I go out and sit in my backyard. It is quite dark though the small, dim backyard lights from my yard and the yards of neighbors soften the darkness and off in the distance I can see reflections of the downtown lights in the night sky. In the summer I share these evenings with crickets and other humming and clicking insects as well as the occasional possum, which provoke barks, yelps and jumping up against the fence from our dog, Jersey (though we live in southern California). In the winter, a more intense darkness and quiet seem to settle like a mantle over the yard. I am seeking solitude—not simply an absence from people but an openness to the presence of the Lord.

I do not usually enter into this time with an agenda but seek to sit quietly before the Lord. At times it begins like free-writing or a stream-of-consciousness as my cluttered mind flits from one subject to another before it is able to slow and settle into a more relaxed state. In these times I pray about what comes to mind lifting them up to the Lord.

However, there are some times when major decisions or family crises dominate my thoughts. During those times I often don’t know what specifically to pray for and my inability to control the circumstances leads to both a sense of helplessness and a temptation to fear. Sometimes my mind is reeling with confusion and my heart is breaking with sorrow. I see no glory in the grind. So I pray for grace to believe that the Lord sees what I cannot see, knows what I cannot know, understands what I cannot understand, and does all of this in a context of covenant love. When I remember who He is, I can surrender to a sovereign Lord even in the midst of my lack of understanding.

That is why solitude is so valuable. Carving out time to sit quietly by yourself without distraction can unearth that helplessness and fear which you are able to mask with activity throughout your day. But it also grants you the opportunity for gaining perspective as you bring your internal struggles and your external circumstances to the throne of grace. In the darkness, quietness and aloneness of the evening you may realize in a deeper way what is going on inside you and discover in a fresh way that Jesus is your great treasure—a perspective you may have overlooked. You may even begin to see the glory of the grind.

How long has it been since you have taken time for solitude?



About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
This entry was posted in Successful Christian Living and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Discipline of Solitude

  1. Pat says:

    When I remember who He is, I can surrender to a sovereign Lord even in the midst of my lack of understanding.
    Oh yes if we can remember to do this,we will experience his peace as we trust in him.
    Very good encouraging words and I did enjoy the read. 😀

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