Service (Daily Encouragement Series)
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” – Mark 1:35-39
Yesterday I wrote about being “alone” and cultivating “solitude” in our lives. While being alone with God is VITAL to our lives, it isn’t an end to itself. Solitude flows into service. You see a pattern in the life of Jesus of being alone with the Father flowing into teaching the gospel and bringing healing and restoration. It is through solitude that our relationships can be strengthened through compassion and we gain wisdom and power to engage with the “burning issues of our time.”
Solitude enables healthy relationships that don’t become “parasitic”: Without the solitude of heart, the intimacy of friendship, marriage and community life cannot be creative. Without the solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependent and sentimental, exploitative and parasitic, because without the solitude of heart we cannot experience the others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own, often hidden, needs.*
Solitude creates “inner space” where we can better understand others challenges and engage with compassion: The movement from loneliness to solitude, therefore, is not a movement of a growing withdrawal from, but rather a movement toward, a deeper engagement in the burning issues of our time. The movement from loneliness to solitude is a movement that allows us to perceive interruptions as occasions for a conversion of heart, which makes our responsibilities a vocation instead of a burden, and which creates the inner space where a compassionate solidarity with our fellow human beings becomes possible.*
Solitude, being alone with God and away from people, actually allows us to appreciate and love people more compassionetly and effectively.
*Quotes from Henry Nouwen, “Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life”