Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Dear Colleagues,


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In the past two Facts we have discussed:

#1  – The Discipline of Simplicity Through the reordering of our private world.

#2  – The Discipline of Silence Through leaning the practice of being still before God. In this Facts we will talk about:

#3  – The Discipline of Serenity Through cultivating the practice of inner stillness.1

It is only in times of solitude that God is able to probe our secret inner thoughts, revealing to us things we hide from others. Consider the words of Henri Nouwen, In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding:  no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. But that is not all. As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly facesThe task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone. 2  If we are honest with ourselves, we resist this kind of soul searching.  It seems so radical, so severe, so close, so revealing.  And besides, I dont have the time with all that needs to be done.

Jesus understood the importance of solitude when he said to his disciples,, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest (Mk. 9:30b) Paul instructed us to spend time in self-scrutiny: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves  (2 Cor. 13:5a) This simply cannot be done without the practice of solitude and inner stillness.

An inner restlessness grows within us when we refuse to get alone and examine our own hearts, including our motives. As our lives begin to pick up the debris that accompanies a lot of activities and involvements, we can train ourselves to go right on, to stay active, to be busy in the Lords work. Unless we discipline ourselves to pull back, to get alone for the hard work of self-examination in times of solitude, serenity will remain only a distant dream. How busy we can becomeand as a result, how empty!  We mouth words, but they mean nothing.  We find ourselves trafficking in unlived truths.  We fake spirituality.3

One of my close friends, and probably the most gifted businessmen I know, routinely takes a day a month at a mountain cabin to spend time in solitude alone with God.  This is especially significant in light of the fact that for years he struggled with a chronic sense of guilt for his lack of achieving totally unrealistic self-imposed goals. Today he is joyful and free and amazingly fruitful in affecting the lives of other professionals for Christ – all a product of his determined purpose to maintain a practice of solitude, amidst the extreme demands as the owner and CEO of a successful business.

QUESTION:  Inner stillness and serenity are the by products of allowing the Spirit to probe the depths of our inner sanctum.  Are you carving out adequate time to be alone with God in solitude?  If not, why not begin taking incremental steps in that direction today.

1 Many of the ideas in this Facts are drawn from Intimacy with the Almighty, Charles Swindoll, Word Publishing, Inc. Dallas, TX 75039

2 Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart. (N. Y.: The Seabury Press 3 Intimacy with the Almighty, Charles Swindoll, Word Publishing, Inc. Dallas, TX 75039

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