Friday, February 22, 2013

‘Solitude’ by Keri Wyatt Kent – Guest Blog Post

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Today, I have the unique opportunity to share a guest post from a wonderful author, Keri Wyatt Kent. Please enjoy!


A guest post by Keri Wyatt Kent

Let’s consider a counter-intuitive truth: time alone can ease our loneliness.
The practice of solitude is not mere isolation, but time alone with God. We forsake others, for a time, to come away with our Beloved.
The very thought may frighten us: we live in sometimes palpable isolation, even with the pseudo-companionship of television, social media, and the crowds around us. In solitude, we bravely face what we’ve been unconsciously avoiding: the intensity of our loneliness. In so doing, we experience the furious, piercing love of God who is our only real hope of escape from that loneliness.

Solitude creates a boundary, within which we might pray, mourn, rejoice, read Scripture, or simply be silent. We can speak to God, or attentively listen for the voice that is always there, but too often drowned out by the noise of our lives. In solitude we are alone and still, and must face the fact that the world keeps spinning without our assistance.

Jesus spent time alone for his own sake, but also to serve as a spiritual role model for his disciples—both then and now. He went to lonely places, in part, to show you how to do it. The gospels whisper over and over of Jesus waking before dawn to withdraw, to sneak off for a few moments alone.

Yet even Jesus sometimes found it difficult to escape the demands of daily life, of others: “At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” (Luke 4:42)

Any close relationship, if it is to grow, requires time spent with the beloved. We nurture our relationship with Jesus by spending time alone with him—whether it is a few minutes each morning, or a longer solitude time on a weekly or even monthly basis. Ours is not a religious obligation but a response to love: the love within our hearts, and the persistent love of Jesus that beckons us to come away with him.

Luke, ever the fastidious observer, connects two truths that give us the “why” of solitude: “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15,1 6) The gospel writer links the demands of the crowd with Jesus’ response—withdrawal into solitude.

Imagine if Jesus had a publicist. Time alone would not be on the agenda: he’d be advised to build his platform, use the momentum he was gaining, add a few more appearances to his calendar, and to be more polite to the Pharisees. Solitude would likely not have been a strategy for ministry effectiveness. But that’s the paradoxical power of this discipline: by doing nothing, we are supernaturally enabled to do much.

As we spend time with no one except God, where we are reminded that it is his love for us—not the accolades of the crowd or the adrenalin rush of accomplishment—that truly matters. Solitude inoculates us against the spiritual malady of relying too much on the approval of others.

In other words, our priorities can be more easily aligned with God’s when we spend time in solitude. As God says through the Psalmist: “Be still, and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10) 

Some of us seem to have only two speeds: overdrive and collapse. We’re honestly afraid that if we stop running, and just be, we will fall asleep. That’s fine—it’s even biblical. Elijah began a very transformational time of solitude with a little nap (see 1 Kings 19). It may be that is exactly what you need.
Solitude is foundational to all spiritual practice. It is one of the few disciplines that every Christian needs—indeed, every human being, no matter their beliefs, would benefit from it. When the distractions are set aside, we come face to face with who we are, who God is. We can no longer hide behind the flurry of activity that keeps us swimming along the surface of life. When we are still, and alone, we are able to dive deep, and be lifted up by God’s presence. We begin to live into the truth that we are deeply loved.

About the Author:

Keri Wyatt Kent is a freelance writer and speaker, with ten books to her credit. She writes and speaking about slowing down, simplifying and listening to God. Her latest book is ‘Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus.’ To learn more, join Keri on a 40 day Lent study of her book on Facebook or by following her on Twitter (@KeriWyattKent #DeeplyLoved). 

Through her writing and speaking, Keri Wyatt Kent helps people to connect authentically with God and to be spiritually transformed. Her books include 'Rest: Livingin Sabbath Simplicity.' In addition, she is the coauthor of several others. Keri frequently travels around the country to speak and lead retreats, and she is a regular contributor to several magazines, websites, and blogs. Keri is a member of Willow Creek Community Church, where she has taught, led groups, and volunteered in a variety of ministries for more than two decades. She and her husband, Scot, live with their teenage son and daughter in Illinois.

Here is the description of ‘Deeply Loved:’ 

Jesus loves you.

That profound fact has been changing lives around the world for centuries. Yet, there are days when you don’t experience this completely in your own life. So, how do you get to the very core of that statement on a deep, personal level?

Keri Wyatt Kent wants to help you fully experience the heart of Jesus’ love in Deeply Loved. Using the gospel stories of Jesus, reflection, and personal stories, Kent will guide you through 40 days of how to create space in your life for Jesus to show up and love you. Deeply.

You can order this deeply impactful book here

Thanks to Keri for this powerful guest post! I have a copy, and look forward to starting to use it during my morning devotionals!

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