Life.  Some see it as a randomly assigned smattering of days with no purpose.  Others believe in divine appointments they rarely keep.  For most, ordinary.  But it doesn't have to be.   What if we dared to go the narrow way? Join me in taking THE FAITH DARE.

Caution: Participating in this challenge might force you to give up some of the things (people?) dearest to you. This challenge could change your life.  Join at your own risk.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FAITHdare #4: Seeking out Solitude

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper" (I Kings 19:11-13)

I love this Old Testament account. I can just imagine the drama of it all. Here is Elijah, who has just exposed the false gods of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in a mountaintop showdown. Afraid and suicidal, even after such a magnificent display of God's power, Elijah sinks into depression. Then God meets with Him. He tells the prophet, "'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by'" (I Kings 19:11).

If God told you He was going to pass by, what would you be waiting for? What would you be looking, listening for? And when that earthquake came, wouldn't you think, "Surely the Lord has come!" And the fire! Would you be disappointed when He did not show up in the earthquake or the fire?

Would you hear that whisper?

To be completely honest, I think it would take an earthquake to get my attention most of the time. Noise is a constant in my life, in our world. I get in my car; I turn up the radio. I step out of the car; I am immersed in voices and conversation and traffic noises and just plain noise! If I'm sitting in a room with someone, I feel like conversation is necessary or "awkwardness" fills the air. Even in church there is constant noise.
Have we forgotten how to LISTEN?

Do you ever just come before the Lord in silence? So much of my "quiet time" is spent talking to God...rarely am I actually "quiet" before Him. How can I expect to hear His voice if I am never quiet enough to listen?

A frequent question I hear from my peers is, "How do I know what God wants me to do?" Good question. My question is, "How can God tell you what He wants you to do if you're always talking at Him and never just stop to be quiet before Him and LISTEN?"

Maybe it's a time issue. We just don't have time for quiet. What a shame. Jesus made time for solitude, and he guarded that time preciously (see Luke 6:12, Mt. 14:13, Mt. 14:23, Luke 5:16, Mt. 17:1-9 among others). He inaugurated His ministry with 40 days in the desert (Mt. 4:1-11), and as He prepared for the cross, he sought out solitude in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:36-46).

There is fear in silence today. Why? Because we give up control in silence. We give up the fire that is our tongues (James 3:6). We give up the power to justify our actions with words. We give up the power to manipulate. We give up the power to make our reputations look the way we want them to. Words are not bad in themselves, but as Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is "a time to keep silence and a time to speak." And I think many of us have lost the ability to distinguish between the two.

Friends, you could turn this dare, as you could with all of them, into something to do, another law to uphold. I am urgently praying that this is not the case. Outward solitude must accompany and compliment inward solitude, which is only found in the peace of Jesus Christ. I cannot give you that peace, I cannot even tell you how to find that peace. You must not avoid the hard work of bringing this and all the FAITHdare challenges before Him. So while we will be focusing on the creation of OUTWARD solitude in your life this week, please seek out INWARD solitude.

FAITHdare #4
1) Create a place of solitude. This should be fun! Is there someplace in your home that you can designate as "the quiet place," a place where anyone in your family can go to be quiet? Is there someplace outside of your home that you can use? Maybe a favorite tree in a park or an empty church sanctuary? Get creative, doing whatever you feel is necessary to make that "quiet place" a cozy and warm environment to facilitate times of solitude.
2) Create a daily TIME of solitude. For me, this means taking advantage of the numerous times a day I am in the car. This week I am going to forgo listening to the radio. I am also going to take a 3-4 hour "retreat" this week, setting aside a specific time and place to enjoy complete silence before the Lord. For you it may mean something altogether different. Take time this week to learn to LISTEN.

And please share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us!

I'm going to leave you with a quote from Thomas Merton:
"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them...Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say."


  1. Have you ever read "The Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster? With 3 initial faithdares of praying, fasting and solitude I couldn't help but think of the similar emphasis between your early dares and the chapters in this book.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I totally agree with your convictions on solitude (as I did with the importance of spending time with God & fasting). We live such a frenzied, busy, noisy existence a lot of the time that it is no wonder our spirituality is often shallow.

    "But Jesus OFTEN withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16

  2. Wow! I am so exited about this. As a mom of three young children, it is hard to find solitude and silence. I feel like there is constant noise in my house, good noise, lots of laughter and singing and talking. But I know that God also wants me to silent. This will be so hard for me because as a human being, my mind is constantly going, whats next, whats for dinner, what do we have to do that evening, homework, laundry is not done, etc. While my Heavenly Father just wants my time. I feel like this is very similar to the dare of week #1, where I will have to make time and find a place. I have already thought of a "place" (not really a place :)) but a nice comfy chair to be in. I don't know about how I will have daily time of solitude, that will be completly difficult, but I know God will show me how to do this, and it will all come together.
    Side note, some of you know my husband, and I have always wonder why is he so quiet some times, I feel like there is something wrong when He is quiet and not saying anything, but he just says "why do you always feel the need that something must be said, sometimes we just need to be silent." That's great advice from an amazing man! I need to be silent so I can hear my Heavenly Father.
    I will be praying for you all this week, that this week will be challenging, and that this week we will all hear God in a whisper.