July 27, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Time to Stop
Mary Southerland, Director of Networking, Member of Speaker Team, Author
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)
Two years ago, my family and I moved from South Florida to Charlotte, North Carolina, a place we have grown to love. The change of seasons, rolling hills and southern hospitality have gently drawn us in and made it home. Our house sits on a beautiful lot, our back yard filled with tall trees and a wide variety of birds. Now I must admit that I have never been a bird watcher but decided that a couple of bird feeders were called for. It was an experiment of sorts. I pictured small delicately feathered creatures congregating in our back yard to provide beauty and entertainment for our family and friends. Instead, I got large colorless birds that ate huge amounts of seed and grew fatter each day. Pigeons! I got pigeons! They swooped into my birdhouses and pranced in my grass as if to say, "I am here to stay, honey! Better get used to it!" I didn't like their attitude. But what I did find fascinating about them was their awkward walk. I watched them day in and day out, wondering what God had in mind when He created these comical birds. Details! I needed details! I headed for my computer, determined to solve this small feathered mystery.
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, a pigeon walks the way it so it can see where it's going. It seems that the pigeon can't adjust its focus as it moves! It actually has to bring its head to a complete stop between steps in order to refocus. As a result, the pigeon must walk with its head forward, stop, head back, and stop.
We can learn an important truth from these amusing birds. We need to build into our lives a pattern of "stops" called solitude. Webster defines solitude as "detachment, separation or disconnection". Solitude is when we deliberately separate and detach ourselves from the momentum of our daily schedule in order to re-focus and determine where we really are headed. In other words - stop!
We live in a world that tries desperately to avoid solitude. Yet, it is one of our basic needs and wisest disciplines.
- Solitude helps us pray.
Early the next morning, Jesus woke and left the house while it was still dark. He went to a place to be alone and pray. Mark 1:35 (ICB)
- Solitude helps us resist sin.
Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart...and be still. Psalm 4; 4 (NKJV)
- Solitude helps us withstand trials.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:6-7 (NIV)
- Solitude strengthens us.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV)
Most of us tend to think of silence as empty and hollow instead of full and rich. We fill our lives, homes and hearts with noise and activity in order to avoid silence at all costs. So much of God is found in the stillness of our heart, soul and body. All of Hell will stand against time spent in solitude because Satan knows the power waiting for us in those tranquil moments, the quiet moments. We must carve out time for solitude and wage battle in order to protect it. The reality is that if we do not come apart, we will come apart. It is time to stop and know Him more.
My prayer for today:
Lord, I recognize my need for time alone with you. I lay down at your feet my schedule, my agenda and anything else in my life that would keep me from that time. Please give me the power to stop and a heart that longs to hear your voice.
Choose to practice solitude - today.
Select a place to spend time in solitude - today.
Lay down your agenda.
Focus on Him and listen for His voice.
Why am I afraid of silence?
What is the greatest obstacle to solitude in my life?
What do I hope to gain from time spent in solitude?
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
And on the seventh day God rested from all his work. Hebrews 4:4 (NIV)
The Power of a Simple Life by Mary Southerland
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Tuesday, 27 July 2004.