Learning about Solitude – Solitude & Imagination
Set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in silence in preparation to learn today. As thoughts come to your mind, intentionally offer them to God.
If five minutes is a challenge, try starting with one minute a day and build up from there.
Read or listen to Psalm 62:1-12
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse. Selah
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.
Read or listen to this blog from Gabe Coyle to learn more about solitude. Make a plan to incorporate what you learned from the blog into your practice of solitude this week.
Solitude is to be alone in order to reimagine you are never actually alone. At the heart of all true solitude is the work of a theologically rich imagination recognizing God’s presence within/around/above/ahead/behind you.
To be clear, by imagine, one is not to assume the fabrication of mere fantasy, but rather the ability to see and intuit what is true although one cannot prove it in the scientific sense. Imagination in the biblical sense comes with a “conviction about things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Solitude is being extraordinarily attentive to the real yet unseen — and even at times unfelt — presence of God. This is richly on display when the psalmist cries out, For God alone my soul waits in silence, and then again but with greater intensity and a charge to his own soul, For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence…(Psalm 62:1, 5).
I often find myself in spaces where I feel alone — a trail in the woods or a quiet book in the early morning — and then suddenly feel the presence of God. It is without fail that I am surprised. Whatever I imagine of God, I must grow in my conviction of God’s ever-present care.
That is not the case with the psalmist. His imagination is one of anticipation. He visualizes God coming and meeting the depths and heights of his soul. Some may call this faith, but it is more specific than what we often dub as faith proper. It is a particular aspect or outcome of trust. Imagination is a creative act from faith, empowering the Christian to stand in the reality of faith. When our God-given capacity for imagination is infused with categories and experiences of God’s realness and presence, then we imagine God’s intervention is forthcoming.
This is why the rich imaginative language of the psalmist is filled with the metaphor of care. He declares in a highly personal way that God is my rock, my fortress, my mighty rock, and my refuge. These are such tangible images of an incomprehensible God. Even when he feels utterly alone, he anticipates God’s protection and salvation as if God were an impenetrable fortress made of rock, a refuge which no one can remove.
While he is alone, he is not alone.
What do you imagine about God when you are alone? Is he far from you? Is he near? What images do you think encapsulate what you are feeling or sensing? How do you anticipate God in the silence of solitude? What is informing your imagining?
The psalmist comes from a rich culture that tells the stories of God’s faithfulness to children at bedtime by parents, grandparents and extended family. The communal liturgy and daily life is steeped in the law and its promises and curses. He’s imagining out of his experience and his inputs. The history of God’s work is his present hope. Who are you imagining is waiting for you in your solitude?
The psalmist processed his thoughts and organized them in Psalm 62 not only to share with others but as a charge to his own soul. Write out your responses to the questions above in your companion journal, or take one of the images that came to mind and imagine God’s presence in your solitude this week.
Invite God to reveal himself to you in your solitude and show you how to practice solitude this week.
Week 2 of 7 Solitude
Solitude & Imagination | 06
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Scripture Memorization – John 19:30
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Solitude & Scripture | 06
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