Mark Affleck

“Retreat-And-Return” SOLITUDE Lifted Me Out Of My FUNK

August 3, 2021
Spiritual Growth

Seeking SOLITUDE with God is a spiritual imperative, right? Yep. But recognizing that truth is the easy part. Actually pulling it off is extremely difficult while we all swim in the world’s slipstream. So let’s bust through one of the biggest barriers between many Christians and finding SOLITUDE with God:
Looking at SOLITUDE with God as a destination in and of itself; instead of realizing it’s a destination we pass through on our way back onto the highway of life.
When I struggled with this early in my faith walk, God tossed me a new perspective on spiritual solitude that focused on its rhythm and cadence.
I call my approach a believer’s retreat-and-return cycle.
We go to God every day with an open heart…open mind…and open hands. We seek discernment and direction from his Word. We share our sinful slips and awesome aspirations. Then, armed with all of that truth and power, we go back into the world and live life. Applying what we learned and paying attention to new developments, circumstances, and challenges as they pop up.
Then, the next day, we go back to God with all of that new, fresh perspective and repeat the process of seeking his mind and sharing our heart. Then back out the next day to learn some more. Then back to SOLITUDE with God. And the cycle never stops.
Just think of what God can do in your life if you put the retreat-and-return CYCLE OF SOLITUDE into action day after day after day after day. Just think about the difference it will make in a week. In a month. In a year. In a decade. In a lifetime. Just think.
I have been doing this for 20 years and it has transformed my heart. Strengthened my faith. And changed my life.
We need to RETREAT to a “desolate place” of SOLITUDE like Jesus did and pray (Mark 1:35). And then RETURN to the world’s whir and live out the purpose God has submitted to our soul.
Pascal wrote of retreating from the busyness of life as a way to “sit quietly, alone.” NO WAY! There is no victory in taking our silence into a room UNLESS we use it as an opportunity to sit in SOLITUDE with God and open our soul, fill our heart, discern our direction. And, then, do it again and again and again.
I ask God to help me live out a Retreat-And-Return life with him every day so my times of SOLITUDE energize me for the rest of life in the world.
Jesus regularly fled the bustle of life in search of SOLITUDE with his Father. How many of his children will do the same?
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” Matthew 14:13

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