Friday, 27 June 2008

Seeking Solitude

Being by yourself is interesting isn't it? I've always avoided being alone by being part of a great big busy family, having friends at church, friends at uni... but now i find myself, in one sense, very much alone. The only people i see day to day are a bunch of scientists, all much older than me and with interests limited to their work or maybe football. Great. I don't like football, I can't talk about X-ray diffraction at their level, so I'm kind of stumped here. Other than that, i see my landlord. And thats it. So in one sense, I'm very much by myself. In terms of actually finding some other people to talk to, i'm going to a really awesome church this sunday, so maybe God will provide some new company :-) But at the moment, it's just me and Him.

And I think this experience is one which will stick with me- in fact, I will make sure to carve out some time for solitude when I am back among friends, because I recognise the value of it now. Being alone is not usually a choice. But solitude is different than loneliness. Solitude is sought- the choice to be alone with my thoughts and with God. This goes way beyond carving out twenty minutes for a quiet time in the morning- that twenty minutes does not end up being quiet, or solitary enough to allow proper release into God. And that is the key thing i have seen- that the time alone with God is not to be clearly structured or defined or ordered, though these things become necessary when the time is limited. Simply seeking out the presence of God, resting in that presence, and releasing everything i am thinking about, worried about, proud about, all up to him. This Practising the presence of God, as recommended by Brother Andrew (read the book) is really something to live by, something to live out, every day and in every form of company. It shows itself in the conversations we choose when we are with friends, in the activities we pursue when among christians and non christians alike, but importantly, it shows itself in the subject of our meditation when we are alone. Meditating on the Word and in the Person of God is something we should do as readily and as eagerly as breathing.

The other practise that is conducive to healthy christian living is, of course, fellowship. But i have never been short of fellowship in my christian walk. There have always been people around me encouraging me, and that is a very valuable thing. But relating to God and being comfortable alone with Him; that is something i have not really spent much time practising. Solitude was Jesus' main priority at many times during his ministry, and it was and is a necessary counterpart to the very relational majority of his life. Being alone used to hold a sort of fear for me, and i avoided it. But Solitude is something different, and something valuable. Something I will not run from now I know that I am never truly alone.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

giving up and getting back

I realise now as I sit to write this, that i haven't written a blog in forever. O well. Much has happened in my life since my last blog, and i am in such an entirely different place now, it seems hard to believe.
I have seen answers to prayer, seemingly unanswered prayers, made new friends, and come very close to losing two of my best friends through selfish stupidity. I'm currently not even home in Essex, I'm in oxford doing an internship, and from the start of next week, I'll have to find somewhere else to stay as the people I'm living with now are going away. Much change.
But one thing remains- God is faithful. He hasn't left me, and still has good plans for my life, even when i try to wrench them from his grasp and make it happen in my own time. The main example of this in the past months is the whole relationship thing. If you look back at my February blog/rant on valentines day, you can probably sense some of my impatience with God. "God, I know you're going to bring her along when I'm ready, but does it really have to take this long?"... well, let me tell you, taking matters into your own hands doesn't work out so well. Trying to force God's plan just caused incredible pain and betrayal, and the effects are still apparent in the broken trust between friends. In fact, I surprise myself at how much of an idiot i can be, given the chance. Trust me, it's not worth it.

But God has been nudging my heart back into trusting him with this. I feel like i have to do something or i may never find her, or if she's right in front of me she will just slip away. But God says he has plans for my life- good ones, and if i will wait on him, he'll guide my steps. So that's what I'm trying to do- just leave it at his feet, and trust him to bring along the senorita :-) What i can do is work to rebuild the friendships i bulldozed in my attempt at matchmaking without God's input. And hopefully I'll learn from this and come out stronger and humbler.

God, I give over my life plans to you, and ask that you replace them with your own. Help me walk in your presence and listen to your voice. Amen