I love solitude. Most of us introverts do! And I really appreciate the passages in scripture where Jesus modeled that role by absenting Himself from the crowds. He spent hours basking in the intimacy of seclusion with His Father. But it is interesting that the bulk of scripture contradicts a total monastic mindset. There are actually heaps more scripture which portray that our deepest intimacy with God needs to come in the context of daily living. Jesus portrayed that too.
In one of the modules of training that I do we focus on training people how to find intimacy by doing effective solitude. Solitude is expressed through withdrawal from anything that distracts us from God. It focuses on getting away; being apart; finding a place of isolation and quietness with a desire to have greatest intimacy; of personal snuggling into the presence of God.
Marriage is a great illustration of the different plateaus of intimacy in spirit, soul and body. Intimacy of body is the basic level and is as far as some marriages get. The next level: that of marriage of the soul is the goal that most couples look expectantly toward for finding fulfillment. That’s the emotional level were we ‘fall in love’. That is cutely illustrated by so many of my friends whose marriage was arranged by their family. The question of “… arranged, or for love” is normal when their engagement is announced. Either way, they grow into the soul intimacy of their relationship. Then there is the third and seldom discussed level where we become married in spirit. I think this is a level of intimacy that only a few couples grow in to.
Even in the Garden of Eden, the moments that Adam and Eve had of solitude, in intimacy with God, happened only during one portion of the day. Their primary role in realizing closeness to Him was to be busy caring for the Garden; to express dominion by taking the Garden to the rest of the world. Their intimacy with Him was through expansion of their role. The seventh day, often misunderstood as being a day of rest, was actually a day of intimate celebration for all that had been done.
David asked: “Who can dwell in the LORD’s Sanctuary?” (Psalms 15) ‘Dwell’ means to settle down, with plans to stay for ongoing intimacy. Note that the answer, in the rest of the psalm, reflects social interactions, not religious spiritual activity! There is no mention of worship, of making sacrifices, or of drawing apart. God’s desire is for us to experience Him in the cacophony of daily interruptions. We are to master walking with our family, doing business in the marketplace, socializing amongst our community. As in marriage, how we express intimacy with Him is through doing daily living. It is in the humdrum moments, during the drama of living, that we discover and savour God Moments. Intimacy needs to be portable, not just felt in a closet of solitude or some moments of ecstasy during an emotional high. Those with spiritual integrity of intimacy, dwell in His holy hill, while living amidst their culture.
May you be blessed with a mindset and a position of stability as you realize you are established in the Most High’s secret place.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
(original post Aug 17 2015)