By Annie Lavi
Quiet has always been eerie to me, something that doesn’t fall in the land of either friend or foe. On one hand, I say that I seek the peace of it: I spend many of my days desiring slowness, wishing for a world that didn’t spin so fast, for more time spent alone in the secret place with God.
On the other, when I finally get those moments, I have a tendency to turn on Netflix in the background or put in my earbuds and press play on my lists of podcasts. I continue to intake even when I am beyond bursting from noise and movement, simply because what I thought I wanted, to be quiet with God, makes me more uncomfortable than I like to admit.
I have a feeling I am not the only one: for a culture addicted to noise and movement, sitting in stillness is never easy.
Last week as Coronavirus truly began to affect all of America, I felt a gentle pull towards this idea: a year from now, I will look back on the month when the world stopped turning, when I found myself alone at home more often than usual. I will remember this season, and it will either be the month where I sat with the stillness, where I shook hands with it and sought the Lord with all my being. Or, it will be the month where I watched every episode of my favorite show on Hulu and then some. The choice, I realized, was mine.
Learning to seek God in solitude is similar to distance running, and no race is won by a quick, overnight training session.
As I’ve begun to ask what it looks like to seek the Lord in this season of forced solitude and silence, I recognize that it is not as easy as I often think it will be. To go from moving 100 miles per hour to nearly zero is a challenge. So allow me to share my thoughts as I encourage you to join me in committing to use this quarantine for communing with God:
- Intentionality Matters.
All the good intentions in the world won’t put me where I need to be with seeking times of solitude with God. Even with our social calendars slashed, we still have jobs, children, spouses, roommates or any form of distraction and noise-maker to get in the way. We need to carve out time and plan, and then we need to take it one step further and stick to the time slot on our calendars. It isn’t necessarily bad to fill our time with TV, podcasts and conversation, but to learn to worship God in silence and solitude, they need to be set aside for a greater focus.
- Perseverance Matters.
Learning to seek God in solitude is similar to distance running, and no race is won by a quick, overnight training session. Learning to be still before God, to converse with him in solitude is a discipline, one that takes time to develop. So we start small. And because we live in a world that values noise and the constancy of movement, to sit before God quietly is often uncomfortable at first for those out of practice. It takes a willingness be pushed out of our comfort zone to get past the phase of uncertainty. And similar to how distance runners often describe a “breakthrough” in their race, we can expect that after a time that feels like a challenge, we will find our own stride as well.
- Freedom Matters.
Personal worship of the Lord in solitude looks different for everyone. We need not make comparisons with others, but simply allow our hearts to fully lean in to what God might have if we throw ourselves before Him and sit beneath His throne. God wants us to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), meaning we worship the right Lord, Him, with the right intent. Walking, sitting by a lake or in a closet, prayer or simply quiet listening and reflection — all of these can be ways that we engage our solitude and silence with God.
What would the church look like if we spent the next few weeks while unable to engage in corporate worship committed to engaging in personal worship instead? If believers took the opportunity and desperately sought the Lord while our lives naturally became a little bit quieter, would the church be better off when we come back together? I think so: Because this season is a built-in reminder that a church full of individuals who don’t worship alone with God won’t really know how to worship when they come together once a week to worship publicly.
Our glorious God loves us and wants to commune with us, which Scripture makes abundantly clear. Would we as the Church lean into this season of solitude and allow him to meet us in a world that is moving a little bit slower.