Solitude and Silence

Solitude and Silence

March 12, 2007

Every early spring the faculty and administration of NABS take time to seek God's face in retreat. Over the last ten years we have gone to a Benedictine monastery near Milbank, SD, called Blue Cloud Abbey. Somehow, no matter who facilitates the retreat, we find significant time in solitude and silence. We take seriously Jesus' own practice of taking time away from ministry, even if it meant losing sleep at night.

Psalm 46:10 provided the theme for this year's retreat, led by Pastor Roy Caudill. Eighteen people attended. The first session focused on "Be still," the second on "know," and the third on "I am God." Reflection time in solitude on the verse and its parts played a major part in how God spoke to me.

Two things came to my attention. First, I found it important to just relax and rest in quiet over the second session. In the first solitude period, I looked up corroborating verses and increased my knowledge base. But the real breakthrough came in the second when I simply sat in quiet and listened for the Lord. It became such a sweet time that I did the same thing in the third session. Isn't that what we do with the people we love? We feel comfortable simply sitting in proximity and enjoying each other in the quiet.

The second thing that came to my attention derived from the third session. As I reflected in quiet, I kept repeating the phrase "I am God." Then I said it with the emphasis on the first word, "I am God," and God spoke immediately to me saying, "That's right." He was saying to me, remember that I am God; you don't need to worry or be anxious about the seminary or what people think about the direction of the school or about the future. God is sovereign and in charge.

Thank you, Lord, for meeting me when most needed.

Of course, we spent time laughing together, sharing our lives and concerns, and even stopping for South Dakota State University dairy department ice cream (the best) on the trip home. Again, thanks, Lord.

Philip Yancey tells a story about a retreat he participated in with Brendan Manning. Manning had said that no one who went on retreat with him ever did not hear God speak to him. Yancey describes how the long times of solitude and silence almost undid him. Then a herd of 147 elk visited the meadow he was sitting in. Indeed, God spoke to him in his skeptical state. We need it, and God speaks.

--Mike Hagan