Cool Down: Solitude and Silence
An often untapped discipline in God's Gym is the practice of spending time in solitude and silence.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead pastor here at Renovation Church.
Thanks to Bjork for filling in for Zach this week! Zach is on vacation and will be back with us next week.
As you can see, we are continuing in our God’s Gym series this morning.
You know, I think one of the hardest things about walking into a real gym or fitness center is to walk in and not feel overwhelmed.
Especially if you’re not familiar with the whole “gym scene”
If you are, you might walk in and think, “This is incredible, I love that machine, and that one, and that one, and look they have that thingy where you can do like 10 different lifts on one.”
Except for you, it’s not a “thingy,” it’s the weightmaster 10,000 or some stupid name like that.
But for most us normal people, when we walk into an environment like that, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.
There are SO many different ways to work out, and without some instruction on your different options, most of us just resign ourselves to one thing.
You do the treadmill, and that’s all you do.
Or you’re an elliptical type of girl.
Or you only bench press. JUST bench press…all hour long.
We sort of just get stuck on the one thing we know.
And in God’s gym, it’s often not that different.
If you weren’t here last week, or you’re visiting for the first time today, we started our “God’s Gym” series last week, and the basic premise comes from this passage in the Bible:
(1 Timothy 4:7-8) – NIV
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
So, we want to TRAIN ourselves to be GODLY.
We talked last week how that word “train” actually comes from the world for Gymnasium, so when we train, we’re training in God’s gym.
Training to be Godly. More like Jesus.
So, what we’re covering in this series are different ways, or different practices that you can do to help you become more like Jesus.
& these are NOT practices we worship, and it’s not about them per se, but they are methods that help us achieve our goal.
It’s “Being changed to change.”
Last week, we talked about the discipline of getting in God’s Word, the Bible.
This week, we’re talking about the discipline of the “Cool Down: Solitude and Silence.”
Now, I know, we should be doing “Cool Down” at the end of the series, but we’re not. Deal with it. J
Perhaps the most often skipped exercise in the gym is the “Cool Down.”
When people finish a tough workout, our lives are often SO rushed, and so full, that we simply don’t have time to do a 5-10 minute cool down.
Our thought process is usually something like this, “I’m just so happy I even took 30 minutes out of my day to work out, that’s incredible! There’s NO time to cool down. I’ve got stuff to do!”
But, did you know that taking time to cool-down is actually pretty beneficial for your body? Who knew, huh? J
It does a lot of things like slowly reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, which if you didn’t know, are good things….
But the best thing it does is minimize soreness in the days to come.
But yet, people still skip it. They’ve got things to do. They’ll take the pain later.
We sort of live this “I’ll take the enjoyment now and suffering later mentality.”
And unfortunately we often do the same thing in our spiritual lives.
We’re busy. We’re running around. Tons to do. And we don’t take the time to cool-down, slow-down, and get away and spend time with God.
And when we don’t take the time to cool down spiritually, guess what?? It hurts in the days to come.
ADDICTION TO NOISE / DIFFICULTY OF NOISE
“So we’ve got to find time in our lives to cool down from the crazy workout that is life.”
We’ve got to find times to get away, in solitude, and find some quiet, and just have a conversation with God. We NEED some quiet. We NEED to get alone…with Him. Or maybe for you it’s to just start talking to Him for the first time.
But yet, I think we’re actually a little afraid to get alone with Him. Here’s why:
The 1st three years of my marriage we lived in married housing at Bethel Seminary. It’s about a ¼ of a mile from 694.
The first night we moved in there, I thought, “I’m never going to sleep here.”
There was just this constant hum from the interstate.
Completely unlike what I grew up with in Cambridge. Just silence.
But after a week or two, I got used to it. Maybe even kind of liked it.
I remember moving from there and thinking, “Am I going to be able to sleep at night now if we move to some place w/ a quiet road?!?”
In a way, we can become accustomed and even addicted to our noise.
And in a real scary way, that’s exactly what’s happened in our culture.
We are addicted to noise.
We live these lives of constant noise. Whether it’s just always being around people…our family…our kids…our coworkers, are just around noise in general
Constantly having the TV on, having the radio on in the car, needing a radio in the shower (because for goodness sakes a few minutes of silence to just think would be terrible), having to have headphones in at all times, having to constantly check facebook at all time, having to check our phone at all times….
We are constantly wired into something. Usually some sort of noise.
“And we’ve got to begin to ask ourselves if noise is the really just the drug that deceives us into believing that our lives are not empty…or painful…or just really hard.”
And I hate to say it, but some of you are addicted to noise.
And you might not even know it, but you’re terrified to get away and just think…just pray.
And much like a person who gets of real drugs, the withdrawal symptoms are ridiculous.
I noticed this every year when I would take 40-50 kids to Mexico on a missions trip.
We wanted them to really focus on God, so we didn’t let anyone take a cell phone with on the trip.
And the kids were just “jonesing” for their cell phones the first day.
It was actually quite humorous to watch. They didn’t know what to do.
And our lack of comfort with silence only grows worse with each generation.
Seriously, watch a teenager who has to wait for something.
Maybe they are waiting at school to get picked up by their mom, or watch a teenager waiting to pick up pizza sometime.
What do they do? I can almost guarantee one thing they won’t do: & that is just stand there and do nothing.
Most likely, they’ve got their phone out…Pretending to text or something. Or, it’s just as common is to see teenagers constantly walking around with headphones on.
It’s crazy! I mean, how uncomfortable are you with silence that you can’t wait for someone for 60 seconds without playing music?!?
And before you write it off as, “They just love music,” let me give you a little history…
PUT UP PICTURE OF WALKMAN
This guy…was around in the mid-EIGHTIES, and you didn’t see teenagers putting it in every spare 30 seconds so they could rock out to Bon Jovi.
But silence to us…is frightening in it’s own way. Because silence strips us as nothing else does. It forces us to stare at the realities of our lives.
It forces us to start trusting in something else besides our frantic misguided intentions to solve everything ourselves.
Look at what God says to the people of Israel in the OT when they had just been heaping sin upon sin upon themselves and judgment was coming.
(Isaiah 30:15-16) – NIV
15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
Too often, we just say, I’ve got this! Got it under control. I’ll figure it out. But it’s in “QUITENESS” we find our strength!
But it’s sort of compounding issue. Because not only are we too busy to take time for solitude and silence, we’re too busy even realize we need to do it in the first place!
See it’s not just that don’t want to deal with the things in the silence, it’s also that it’s a lot harder to hear God with so much competing noise.
(CRANK UP iTUNES WITHOUT A CUE FROM ME HERE!!!)
(over the music) But it’s really important that you hear these sort of words. What I’m saying right now is incredibly……..
MAN! Wouldn’t be annoying to listen to an entire message like that?!?
You can’t hear what you need to hear! But that’s how we live our lives!!
We’ve got so much NOISE that we can’t hear God speaking to us. And that’s a problem!
People complain that God doesn’t speak anymore, but nobody’s ever daring enough to turn the volume of their world down and actually listen for him!
I had a conversation years ago with Jared Hibma, who’s one of our House Leaders here at Renovation, that really changed my course on this topic.
We were talking about our relationships w/ God and he asked me, “Do you notice when your heart starts to slowly drift from God?”
And I just off the cuff responded to him, “I think I’m too busy to realize how stupid I am.”
Two weeks later, I gave one of my favorite messages of all-time to my youth group, and I just called it, “I’m too busy to realize how stupid I am”
A month after that, I went on my first ever prayer retreat, and God really started to show me the value of this discipline.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE GET AWAY
The power of getting away (whether it’s just for a few minutes each day or even for a few days) to just stop and pray is incredible.
And by the way, it’s important to note that when I say silence, mostly what we’re talking about is “outward silence.” Getting someplace quiet.
It’s important to note that we’re not talking about just sitting in silence to sit in silence. This isn’t “clear your mind meditation.”
Although, we need to sometimes not talk when we pray.
Prayer after all, is supposed to be a conversation, and if God’s gonna talk, that we means we have to not once in a while.
There are a lot of important voices you need to hear in your life, but God is the most important.
Without hearing from Him, without guidance from Him, we’re just like people driving around in a foreign city with no idea where we’re going.
So how are you going to stop, get out of the car, and start listening for directions? When are you doing to do it? To slow down? To cool down?
Because when we do…we start to get it.
(Psalm 52:5-6) – NLT
5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
(Psalm 46:10) – NIV
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
When we’re still, when we’re quiet. We start to get it. We start to hear. We start to finally see. We start to remember the power of the cross. We start to let it hit our hearts that Jesus Christ DIED on the cross to take our place. He died for us!
It’s kind of like this: “What if I was holding a huge picture up here for you to see but just kept shaking it??”
That’s what trying to get life is like when you’re constantly on the move.
But when you stop, and it gets still, you can see.
And one of the great examples we have from the Bible is people who take solitude and silence seriously.
What did Jesus do before he started his 3 year earthly ministry? He went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days.
What did Moses do before God used him to take the Israelites out of slavery? He went to the desert…out into the country. For 40 years!
What does Paul do before he kicks his ministry into high gear (we mentioned this a few weeks ago in Acts), he disappears into Arabia for 2-3 years.
And Jesus seems to take solitude and silence the most serious of all.
After feeding the 5,000, we get these verses
(Matthew 14:22-23) – NIV
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
We see another example in Luke:
(Luke 4:40-43) – NIV
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
42 At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Or I love how the similar passage reads in Mark
(Mark 1:35-37) – NIV
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Think about all the work Jesus could have been doing! Yet he found it important enough to get away in Solitude and Silence.
And yet, ironically, WE feel that our work is MUCH too important to take time to get away.
Um, I hate to be harsh, but your work is not as important as Jesus’ was. J
And if Jesus felt finding solitude and silence for prayer was SO important, we’ve GOT to find time in our lives to carve it out.
The risk is too great otherwise.
William Wilberforce, maybe you learned about him in the movie Amazing Grace, said once, “The shortening of private devotions starves the soul.”
For it is only in silence that we can actually hear the beating of the heart of God.
I don’t know if you notice this a lot, but it’s really common in our culture to say, “I’m going to go do ____ (whatever) to “get our mind off something.”
We need to watch TV, or a movie to “get our mind off something.”
Or sometimes people drink, or go out, or whatever to get “their mind off something.”
But here’s the problem: Taking your mind OFF it, doesn’t make it disappear.
The issues are still there. And they’ll be back again when you wake up the next morning despite the disappearing mind tricks you tried to perform the night before.
And filling our lives with noise, so we don’t have to face the truth in the silence won’t ever solve anything.
We’ve got tough things to deal with. Every SINGLE one of us.
And oddly enough, in some ways, we’re right to avoid them…and fill our lives with noise.
And the only portion we’re right about is this: If we actually deal with the giant of our problems ourselves, it’s most likely gonna get ugly. We’re gonna get destroyed. We are, after all, only human.
But what if we were to bring an ever bigger giant to the fight?
What if we stopped, started admitting….AND facing those problems we’ve just let stick around in our lives like someone grows accustomed to a bum leg….
But what if we actually started to face them…but with God.
He wants to FIGHT for you. He wants to rescue you. To free you. That’s what He does.
And guess what, He’s pretty good at it!
Here’s the thing, silence and solitude should actually do the exact opposite of making you feel alone.
Because it’s when you get away that you remember that there is ONE that is always with you, one that always fights for you…
And that should make us feel even LESS alone in life.
As we start to remember at all times that HE is with us. That He speaks to us. That He guides us. That He moves in us.
And those problems, and that sin, starts to feel a little less daunting, a little less gripping because we KNOW that He is with us. He IS WITH US.
So how can you do this in your life? How can you make time to get away and pray?
And by the way, it doesn’t have to be some big getaway thing. We should have a little silence and solitude to pray every day.
We have to press pause on the noise of this world every day to better hear God and talk to Him.
There are plenty of ways you can do this.
One of the first things I would recommend would be just finding a spot in your house where you can pray every day.
We’re going to talk a lot more about prayer next week (what to pray, how to better pray, etc.), but one of the first things is just finding a place of solitude.
Find a room. Find a space. Make a space. For goodness sakes, we make whole sections of our house dedicated for TV viewing, we can find a closet dedicated to pray.
And for some of you, especially if you’re a mom, with a lot of young kids…solitude is precious. And rare.
But strive for it. Get up earlier. Stay up later. OR, declare Mommy time for 5 minutes where you can’t be bothered. It’s a good lesson for your kids to learn the value of connecting with God.
Honestly, the car is one of the best places to find silence and solitude for a lot of us.
Cuz the car can be quiet, right? Now, in my 98 mercury tracer, the wind is actually kind of loud. But I know it’s quite quiet for some of you.
In fact, I’d like to challenge our church to something this week.
And for some of you this might sound crazy, but that might just mean that it’s all the more important for you, but I want to challenge all of us to shut the radio off in your car for the rest of the week.
Now, if you have an hour commute, maybe just half the time. Or start w/ 10 minutes on Monday, and try 15 on Tuesday, etc.
Seriously…try that. And don’t just sit there. Listen. Talk to God. I’m really excited for you guys to try this. It’s a discipline.
A discipline in God’s gym. And as your spiritual trainer, I’m telling you, you are going to see results!
If you do this this week, you’re gonna experience God.
And find other places to just find quick moments of solitude to pray…
At a stop-light, in the drive-thru, in an elevator, or even better walking up the stairs.
And obviously the most important thing you can do is just find a consistent prayer time in your life, which will talk about more next week
But make sure to find times of solitude and silence like this as well. It’ll teach you how to look for God more consistently in your day
But there also are times in our lives where we need to get a little more serious about extended periods of getting away by ourselves to pray
Sometimes it’s necessary for us to have a longer period of refreshment with God after a busy season in our lives. Check this out.
(Mark 6:30-32) – NIV
0 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place
So Jesus’ disciples had just finished this busy season of life where they were going from town to town doing ministry.
And he tells them to just come away with Him. Spend some time getting refreshed.
And God is probably calling some of you to that today. Not just to spend 10 minutes tomorrow, but to come away and get refreshed.
You need to make the sacrifice of time now or it’s going to burn you later.
Or sometimes we need to get away to really focus on God because we have an important decision to make.
Look at what Jesus does before he picks his disciples
(Luke 6:12-13) – NIV
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
I started doing this in my own life. In the summer of 2008, I was really at a crossroads of whether I should just continue on in my job as a youth pastor (after all…great ministry…great church), or leave to take a HUGE risk and start a church from scratch
So I went on a prayer retreat for a weekend. Just me, my Bible, a journal, and some food I packed because I’m a picky eater.
Now, it wasn’t easy. No new discipline is. In the normal gym or in God’s gym.
This one is especially not easy for me. I’m insanely extroverted. So the idea of not talking to another human for 48 hours doesn’t exactly get me excited.
But listen, when you seek God like that, in solitude, in silence, for a period of time, He will speak. (draw near to Him, & He will draw…
And some of you just need to kick your faith up a notch and get away with God like this.
You need the rest. Or you need to hear from Him on a decision. Or you just to need to hear from Him. Or you just need to be with Him.
There are places you can go.
I typically go to Pacem in Terris in Isanti. It’s great.
(Start showing pictures of Pacem on screen)
You get your own little cabin, bed, rocking chair, porch, it’s scenic, plenty of trails to walk on, and they leave you alone. Sneak up and bring food.
If you want to check it out, we have brochures on it in the hallway.
There are other places you can go to like Wilderness Fellowship near Grantsburg. They even have a microwave and fridge at that one. J
But honestly, stretch yourself on this. I know it sounds maybe a little intimidating, but I’m just not sure we ever really grow in our faiths unless we get the courage to sometimes step out of the boat and put a foot on the water.
So I just want to seriously challenge you this week, add another discipline from God’s Gym into your life.
Keep up with some of the Bible reading we talked about last week. And now make some space to hear from God.
If you feel like He’s tugging on your heart a little bit right now about some things you gotta do, then follow-up on it.
Meet with Him. Make space for Him. Make time for Him. And let him start to remind you or introduce you to his incredible, mind-blowing love.
Let’s pray…except, I’m not gonna pray today. I just want you to pray. Silently in your head. I’ll say Amen. Dear God…..
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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