I have learned to enjoy the solitary work of writing. I never know the direction the process is going to take me and sometimes . . . this may sound a little weird but . . . sometimes I feel like I am the little dot on an Etch-A-Sketch screen. I usually start out with an idea or two, but as I get busy writing I many times hit a dead-end. I struggle with many “false starts” as I back up, re-think the direction I want to go, and try again. It can be very frustrating and sometimes even painful when I find myself banging my head against a wall of frustration wondering, “How on earth did I get here?!!” It is then that I remember and turn back to quickly pray, “Lord . . . help! ” Invariably, every post turns into a treasure hunt as I re-enter the writing process prayerfully seeking His perspective as I write.
Over time I have learned to recognize the value of prayer in solitude – what I refer to as “solitary leaning”– as the key piece that makes whatever we face truly meaningful and productive.
Life is hard; but God is good and ready to meet us at our point of need. He calls us to enter intimate solitude with Him throughout Scripture. I love how Psalm 100:3-5 takes our focus off ourselves as we lean into Him as “the sheep of His pasture”:
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Are you struggling with fear? Do you doubt His goodness because of things you regret? Have you suffered a recent loss that has taken your breath away? God calls us in whatever state we are in to:
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
To “be still, and know” is His call to solitary leaning. It is an invitation to surrender fear and doubt and the pain of loss as we trust in Him.
In my last post, I wrote about the difference between loneliness and solitude. The core of loneliness is rooted in our God-given yearning for companionship. In Genesis 2:18 God made Eve for Adam because, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” The problem with loneliness arises when we become increasingly self-focused in bitterness and despair and, in the end, abandon God.
The beautiful thing about solitude for Christians is that when we lean into Him through our prayers and look to the Scriptures, we discover a waiting Shepherd ready to meet us at our point of need. That is what I love about the word-picture in Isaiah 30 that encourages us in our failures to solitary leaning on the Shepherd of our souls:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him! (Verse 18)
Such solitary leaning is a necessity in our creativity as well as in facing trials, grieving losses and remembering above all else, His faithfulness. I find working in my garden or curling up in a corner working on my Journey Notes to be special places to lean. Sometimes I actually enjoy being alone in a crowd, when I can sit to the side of all of the activity and just take everything in. How about you? Do you have a favorite time or place that you find especially conducive to do some solitary leaning?
All to His Glory!