Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 27, 2013

Solitude at Palmetto

Solitude, it seems, is one of the least traveled avenues to developing greater intimacy with God. As I grow older I find myself longing more and more for periods of solitude — a little white space on my calendar that will allow me some time, however brief, to disconnect from the activity of my life so that I can “be silent before the sovereign Lord” (Zeph. 1:7).

Charles Swindoll defined solitude as “a sabbath of involvements.” This definition speaks to me because I am addicted to activity and involvements. I need to more intentionally take time to get away from it all in order to hear the “sound of a gentle blowing” (1 Kings 19:12), the soft rustling of God. It’s important to find solitude because it can be difficult to hear God amidst the noise and the crowd.

Even Jesus valued solitude. Mark recorded an occasion when Jesus got up “very early in the morning, while it was still dark” and “went out to a desolate place” to pray (Mark 1:35). And after the death of John the Baptist, Matthew recorded that Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself” (Matt. 14:13). Solitude is often the perfect setting for an intimate meeting with God.

Solitude is not to be confused with loneliness. Loneliness is marked by a sense of estrangement or isolation from others. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely. Seasons of solitude give us the opportunity to rest, to filter out the non-essential, to gain perspective, to reconnect with and clarify what we value, and to become more attentive to God.

Entering Palmetto
This morning, I tossed my CamelBak and trekking pole in to my truck and headed west on Interstate 10 to hike the trails at Palmetto State Park. I have been waiting for a break in my schedule to get away for some much-needed time alone with God. For the past several days, the words of Psalm 42:1 have spoken for me as much as they have spoken to me: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God.”

Palmetto Path
As I walked the trails at Palmetto, I thought about something I had read in one of my many books about Mother Teresa. She understood the value of solitude and silence. “We need to find God,” she said, “and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to reach souls.” One of the benefits of seasons of solitude and silence is being refreshed so that we can continue ministering to others.

Rest Area 2
My time at Palmetto State Park today was just what the doctor ordered. I spent five hours hiking every single trail in the park. Wherever there was a dotted line on the map indicating a trail, I hiked it. The best part of it all was the time I was able to spend in prayer. I stopped several times throughout the day to sit and pray at the benches along the trails. I found it refreshing to just sit in silence and listen to the wind rustling through the trees. I returned home feeling much better for having met God in solitude and silence at Palmetto.

Hiking Trails


Responses

  1. Continuing to pray over you, friend, and the rest of my Kingsland family. I am glad you had the opportunity rest, reflect and recharge with our Heavenly Father. I know you listen and obey where he is telling you to go minister next, whether it be 2000 ft or 2000 miles away.

    • Thanks very much, Carolyn. I had a really good time alone with God at Palmetto. Please give my regards to your family and our friends in Qatar.


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