'The battle is not to do what we don't want, but to want what is infinitely worthy of wanting' [John Piper]

Solitude

in Our priorities, Worship of God

Have you ever taken time to look at the incredible photos that the Hubble telescope has taken of the galaxies throughout the universe? The size of these galaxies is beyond our comprehension, the numbers of stars beyond counting. We even need to refer to the contents of the known universe, because we still do not know how large the whole universe is.

Coming back closer to home, we can only gaze in wonder at the many natural wonders on our earth; the vivid sunsets (and if you get outside early enough, equally impressive sunrises), immense mountain ranges, deep valleys and canyons, lush rainforests with rushing waterfalls, incredible varieties of marine life making a home among the beauty of coral reefs, a school of Orcas swimming in an Atlantic fjord, or a herd of elegant gazelles running across the Serengeti plain.

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We read in Genesis 1 that after God created all these things that He pronounced it “good”. God was pleased with what He had created, and with good reason. Yet for all the incredible beauty of creation, God didn’t create anything He would build a relationship with until He created mankind. Despite their immensity or complexity, all the birds, marine life, animals, mountains, rainforests, planets and stars cannot have a relationship with God. We are the only creatures made in God’s image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

It is worth noting that once God made us His satisfaction with all that He had made increased from being good to being very good.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, emphasis added)

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The reason that we are made in God’s image is because we were made to have a relationship with God, and for God to have a relationship with us. This is the incredible invitation that God is extending to you, an invitation that we only be amazed at the more we realise God’s immensity and holiness.

Despite this, we rebelled against God’s perfect design for our lives. Our desire to choose our own purpose, to take control of our lives, has separated us from God.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

God could have just left it there. He could have realised that His relationship with His creation was finished. Yet God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to enable the fellowship to continue.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

He sent Jesus, putting all the guilt of our rebellion on him.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

And all this to show us he loves us, to make a relationship possible.

God wants to speak to us, He wants us to listen, He wants to show us his best plan for our lives. He wants us to know who He is, how much he loves us, and to love him in return.

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One of the strongest reasons for getting married is because we love, value and are attracted to our spouse so much that we want to spend as much time as we can with them, we want to share our lives with them. In the same way, the extent to which we want to spend time with God will depend on our perception of who He is. If we think that God is irrelevant, distant, then we won’t want to spend time with him. However as we start to realise the immensity of who God is, and the level of His love, mercy and grace He is extending towards us, then we start to develop a yearning to know Him more.

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As I have referred to previously, King David lived about 3,000 years ago in the Middle East. He was handsome, charismatic and courageous, with great skill as a warrior and leader in battle. David realised that nothing that this world could offer could compare to God. David enjoyed dwelling on the majesty, greatness, holiness and goodness of God. While David wasn’t perfect, he sought God Himself with a longing of his soul.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4).

This desire to know God, to be in His presence, to gaze on the beauty of God’s character, to seek God with a single-minded purpose requires us to spend time alone with God. To have solitude with God. This is not about me and somebody else and God, this is just me and God. You and God. Alone.

It is almost impossible to describe what this time alone with God is like. You need to experience it yourself, to take the time to be alone with God, and talk to Him, but most importantly to listen.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 48:10)

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For me, it started off with some very simple requests of God, but requests that reflected the deep longing of my heart.

Show me your glory.

Give me a desire for you.

Show me how to focus on you, how to listen to you.

Show me how to live, that what happens for eternity is more important than what happens here on earth.

When making these requests such as these, don’t do anything but listen. And be patient. It is not likely that all your requests will be answered immediately. Even though God already knows the desire of our heart and knows the intensity of our thirst for Him, He also lets us demonstrate whether our requests are genuine, or we are just after a quick fix to some other problem.

As I have made these requests, I didn’t hear any audible life-shattering audible answers to any of these questions. Yet looking back over the last few years I can only bow in humble amazement as I see the way that God is answering these questions. God is revealing the beauty of His character, His glory, He is increasing my desire for Him, my yearning and hunger to know Him more, and helping me realise that the things of this world pale into insignificance when compared to eternity. How incredible is it that God cares enough about me to answer these requests?

What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Psalms 8:4)

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This time of solitude with God cannot be half-hearted, a rushed moment in between the nightly news and your favourite television show, or a rushed prayer just before getting into bed at night or few quick requests before getting out of bed to start a new day. Instead we need to be prepared to spend time with God, so we are totally focussed on Him. It will mean sacrifices of time. It may mean revisiting your priorities, examining what is important in your life. The question we need to ask is – Do we really and truly want to get to know this awesome God who created us solely for the purpose of loving you and being loved by you? Be careful how you answer, because your life will be changed the closer you draw to God.

If our requests are genuine, then God has promised us that our desire to know God will not be in vain. If we will listen to Him then he has promised us He will never leave us. He will speak to our hearts and change us in ways that will continue to astound us, and draw us further and deeper into His presence and the joy of knowing Him.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for you LORD have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

In thinking about the importance of solitude, we have an excellent example to follow:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

After he had dismissed them, he [Jesus] went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23)

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)

Please, take the time to be alone with God, to have solitude with God and build an intimate relationship with Him. Let God speak to your heart.

Further reading: Mystery of God




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