ISOLATION vs SOLITUDE
With all that is going on in the world, sometimes I wonder if we should lock the doors of our homes and order in all of our food, being sure to isolate ourselves from all others…However, I know that is not even close to reasonable. But, I do think that I need more solitude in my life…quiet reflection on Who Jesus is and on His Word.
There is a big difference between isolation and solitude, yet I can mix up the two.
When our pace of life overwhelms me, and I start googling “best small town in Georgia to move to,” then I know something isn’t right.
Or when I pull out of neighborhood onto an increasingly busy road, and I daydream about actually needing to use the phrase I abhor, “Hey Kids, let’s load up and ‘go to town.’” It’s these days my thoughts run toward ISOLATION. Get me away from all of these people and cars and lines and construction work!!!!!
These are extreme cases, but there are more subtle circumstances that tempt me to ISOLATE when what I truly need is SOLITUDE.
Some weeks are so rough around here that I feel like a total mom-failure. I lose my cool too many times with the kids and wonder if I will ever be able to make it through a week without such regret. Sunday morning comes along, and quite honestly, I don’t want to go and be around people. I think that staying at home, enjoying silence and a cup of coffee alone would really help me….instead of going to church. Have you ever felt that way?
Or maybe Josh and I are not seeing eye-to-eye on something, and I decide that staying home from church is best because I just cannot fake that all is well with us, smile with friends and answer all of their “How are you doing?”s with “Fine.”
The number of scenarios that tempt us to think we need isolation are as many as sand on the seashore. In real life, I do not stay home all those times I have wanted to. Usually Josh won’t let me, but truly I know that isolation is not the answer.
When I sit in class or church service and look around at all the people, I wonder how many others also thought that they would rather be home that day? And then I think of all the TRUTH and encouragement I would have missed. It happens every time. I never regret going to church.
But why not stay home in isolation when life is tough or your circumstances aren’t anywhere near how you like them?
I think we all know it is not the act of getting in the car and going to church, sitting in the building and going home that fixes all of life. That’s just silly. But there are a few things I am doing when I go to my church.
#1- I am reminding myself Who is in control and worthy of glory and praise. (Hint: It ain’t me!)
Ron Dunn says, “God always reserves something for Himself in the physical realm where man obtains his living to prove that He is sovereign owner of it all.”
Sunday is The Lord’s Day. I know, every day is His day and He should be praised on all days, but there is something about that first day of the week being set aside to put Him first. Sundays are very different days at my house. I still get up and have my quiet time with the Lord. I still have my coffee, but after that, it is a very different day. We all, as a family, get ready for church. We all go to church and attend Bible Study classes. We attend church together. We rest together. We sometimes have a family or two over for lunch. Sundays are different than every other day of our week.
#2- Placing myself (and my family) under the teaching of God’s Word is significant.
In Sunday School class, we study the Bible together. Josh always says that he hopes those who come to class don’t view it as just a holding place for us adults while the kids have their class time. He teaches in such a way that encourages us to all follow along all week. And even though I have heard the lesson (a couple of times) by class time, I need to hear The Truth of God! When I think back on all the times I have been under the hearing of God’s Word—-each and every time over the course of my life— I am aware, but not in full knowledge, of how God’s Word has shaped me into who I am today. His Word is alive. It’s powerful and effective. God’s Word does a work in me that is impossible to measure here on earth. Why would I treat such a special opportunity lightly or with a lack of soberness?
#3- I’m choosing to be with fellow believers—to be encouraged by them and to be an encouragement to them. In Sunday School class, I am less aware of ME and more aware of OTHERS. I meet new people just about every week in our class. If I just choose to isolate, I am missing out. I learn a prayer need just about every week in class, and if I chose to make the morning all about me, myself and I, I would miss out on interceding for someone else. And on those days when I go to class but would feel like I’d rather not be there, inevitably, someone smiles at me, encourages me, loves on me! And I am better for it.
When I say I want to be away from people and schedules and traffic, etc, it may be a red flag to remind me that my soul is aching for solitude. Running TO Jesus and not running AWAY from life. I do need time in quiet, pulling away from the to-do lists and calendar alerts, but as long as I live on planet earth, I am going to be with people and have to deal with traffic and learn to manage my calendar.
But running away helps no one.
So what do I run to?
I Timothy 6:11 says, “…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness…”
2 Timothy 2:22 says, “…pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on The Lord from a pure heart.”
I Timothy 1:18 says, “fight the good fight” (as opposed to “pull the covers over your head and don’t face the day”)
Hebrews 12:1 says, ” …let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Psalm 119:32 says, “I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart.”
That one from Psalms is one of my favorites these days. When I will run the way of His commandments, He will enlarge my heart for whatever it is I am facing. When my heart is heavy or sad or distracted or hard as a rock, I need to run to His commandments and one of those ways is going to church and placing myself under His Word….even when I don’t feel like it…ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it.
John 12 :24 says, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains ALONE; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
So, it’s Saturday night. I am actually really looking forward to going to church tomorrow. But if I wasn’t…if I was feeling like I needed to just stay home ALONE, I hope I would choose to die to my feelings, however real they may seem, and go and bear much fruit.
Have a great Sunday!