September 2: The Discipline of Solitude

Read Mark 6:21-56

It was bad. His cousin and dear friend, the man who had baptized Jesus Himself, was dead. This right after the visit to his hometown that landed him criticism from his own family. (See Mt 14:53-58) It had been a tough few days for Jesus.

He needed some time alone.

When Jesus heard of (John the Baptist’s death), He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. (Mt 6:13)

Time after time in the Gospels we find Jesus sneaking away for some solitude. He modeled for us the private discipline so that by practicing it, we might become fully alive.

Solitude can be a catalyst for us to become fully alive. 

It would have been easy for Jesus to ignore His need for solitude. I mean, consider all the need He saw every single day. Hungry people. Sick people. People who just needed His touch and would be healed and changed for life.

But Jesus knew what Richard Foster wrote so well in his book, The Celebration of Discipline. We must seek out the recreating stillness of solitude if we want to be with others meaningfully.  (p86, 1978 edition)

The truth is, without the practice of solitude, our souls grow weary and desolate. Without the practice of silence before God, we cannot sustain healthy community, fellowship, or ministry.

That’s why Jesus stole away on a regular basis. It’s why He called His disciples to do the same.

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. (v31a)

Led by the Spirit, Jesus spent 40 days alone in the wilderness before facing the tough temptation the enemy would bring. (See Mt 4.)

Before calling His disciples into life with Him, we find Jesus alone with the Father. (See Luke 6:12.)

And now this, at the end of a hard couple of days, bad news all around Him, Jesus just needed to be alone.

And the full life of Jesus shone most gloriously bright as He paused the solitude and offered abundant bread for the people who just kept coming, kept seeking, kept needing.

Then after He returned to that quiet alone place, He gave Peter and His disciples more faith in which to walk as He chased them over the water and displayed more might than they had yet seen.

The practice of solitude was more than just a decompressing for Jesus. It was life-giving, soul-refreshing empowerment for doing God’s work.

It is no less for us today.