"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

12/22/08

Sacrifice and Solitude

If you know me even a little, you have likely figured out that I am a classic "people person." Sure, I like to be alone sometimes, but I am definitely most comfortable, most "alive," when I am with others. I love to encourage them, laugh and cry with them, work together with them--just about anything, actually, as long as "them" is with me.

I must admit that once I had kids I started treasuring that alone time more, and wanting it in more abundance (just, consequently, when I was getting it LESS often.). Still, I'm more likely to spend my "alone" time with a friend or eight (either in person or through email or text) than truly alone.

That, perhaps, is why Saturday December 21st's Streams in the Desert devotional knocked me cold.
There are no birds that live in as much solitude as eagles, for they never fly in flocks. Rarely can even two eagles be seen together. And a life that is dedicated to God knows divine fellowship, no matter how many human friendships have had to be forfeited along the way.

God seeks "eagle people," for no one ever comes into the full realization of the best things of God in his spiritual life without learning to walk alone with Him. (Streams in the Desert, L. B. Cowman, December 20)
Walking alone with Him. Human friendships forfeited. Solitude. These concepts came to bite me as I read in the early morning hours. Especially that middle one.

My friends are absolutely, positively precious to me. I chat with them, pray with them, laugh with them, cry with them, share with them. They encourage me, and I do the same back. They whip me back into line when I need it, and I'll do the same for them.

These can't be the kinds of friends God is talking about. He means the moochers, the users, the acquaintances that distract us. Maybe He's talking about my non-believing friends--the ones who, purposely or not, pull me away from Him. That must be what God is talking about. He can't possibly mean my encouraging, praying, supportive friends.

Or can He?
May we allow God to isolate us, but I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. It is in the experience of isolation that the Lord develops an independence of life and of faith so that the soul no longer depends on the continual help, prayers, faith, and care of others. The assistance and inspiration from others are necessary, and they have a place in a Christian's development, but at times they can actually become a hindrance to a person's faith and welfare. (Streams in The Desert, December 20. Emphasis mine)
Am I so dependent on my friends that I am not leaning on Jesus? Do I feel like my prayers to my Lord are not enough, that I have to get my sisters in Christ to pray along for them to be effective? Am I using my friends as a crutch to avoid being alone with the One who knows my every fault and my every sin?

I don't think I am, but there have certainly been times when I was teetering on the edge. And that is not a good place to be.

It may seem that Christmas, a time with such a focus on friends and family, is an odd time to contemplate solitude with our Savior. But maybe that's the point. With all the busyness and craziness of Christmas time, it is perhaps now, more than ever, that we need to be sure that our focus is on Him.
Friends and family are certainly important, perhaps more than ever this time of year, and in times as these. But they can't be the most important.
God may not be asking me, or you for that matter, to sacrifice dear friends to be closer to Him, to have that "divine fellowship" that might require it. But He might be--if not now, at some later date.

Are you willing?

Heavenly Father, I so want to have that divine fellowship with You. Help me to be willing to make any sacrifice necessary--any sacrifice You ask me to make--to be closer to Christ than anyone or anything. I want to rid myself of any obstacles to that fellowship, Lord, whether or not they are contrary to my natural bent. Help me, Lord to truly seek You first, and to long for, more than anything, solitude with You. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

7 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking, Jo. Something we all need
    to look at. Not easy, but needed. Sunny

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  2. This is interesting, Jo. I'm coming at this from another angle, though. I tend to think our nuclear family/society of modern America is TOO much in solitude...and even in church, the tendency is to meet at the building, with little or no communion with others in our homes or lives through the week. This is really different from times past when a sisterhood of women mentored each other through life, and church families were involved in daily contact, to the betterment of the body. Though I understand the point of the devotional is that we need time with the Lord alone, I think many of us have MOSTLY time alone with the Lord and little interaction with fellow believers beyond the cyber world (except a couple of times a week in formal church settings.) Relationships...it is what I crave from my Savior and my fellow believers, and relationships can't be forged singularly. In fact, I remember the strength I felt in numbers when the power of His love and blessings grew among us as we gathered, "two or three" together in His name...He WAS in the midst of us as we bore each other's burdens and shared each other's triumphs. I miss that. As you can tell, I've been thinking of these kinds of things for a while! What a thought-provoking post!!

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  3. Boy, we're opposites here! I'm a hermit by nature. God has been pulling me out of my shell more and more, reminding me that "a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, he rages against all wise judgment" (Pr. 18:1). I guess the key is balance, and that might look different for everyone. We need the solitude that He gives us (no more and no less), and we need the companionship that He gives us (no more and no less). As long as we're where He wants us to be at any given moment, it's all good!

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, and for your willingness to delve into difficult matters with honesty.

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  4. Thanks for this, JO. We need to be more like Mary..wanting to be at His feet, listening and learning and loving.

    Vonnie

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  5. I do know where you're coming from. I catch myself more and more lately(or the Spirit is catching me and nudging me) thinking, "I need to email my e-wives", or "I need to post a prayer request for this" or I should ask Joanne what to do" or "I wonder what Teresa would advise me to do" before I even pray myself and talk to my Father about it. Lots of times after praying, I don't need anyone else's advice because the Lord answers beautifully.
    Thanks for posting your devotion and your thoughts on it!!

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  6. I, too, am a people person, but with 4 kids and age has come my prizing of solitude. Especially focused solitude--time with the Savior. Those have been the most precious parts of my Christmas season.

    In fact, I could use some right now. I struggle with the noise that so amply crowds my life. Midnight is about my only quiet time.

    Enjoy your solitude this week as it comes.

    peace~elaine

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  7. As someone who lives where there are eagles literally by the dozen (south east alaska, rural town, and the bald eagles winter here)...
    I do see that they are solitary (well, they do mate for life, so they are paired, but they do not live in larger family groups certainly). On the other hand, they are not alone--they do hang out in bigger groups, and there are many of them here together...but when they go back to the nest at night, they go alone. I think if anything that strengthens your metaphor though, because we do work with many other people all day, some more like us than others...but when it comes down to returning home, it's just us...

    ReplyDelete

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