I was on the phone with a friend; and when he asked how I was doing, the question really sank in. I had been so busy and distracted that I did not have an immediate answer. Once I thought about it though, I realized, “Man! I’m tired.”Not just physically, but spiritually and emotional tired. It felt strange to realize this because I wasn’t discouraged, just tired. I mean building Ember has been an exciting season; challenging, but mostly fun. The Lord has been so near every step of the way.
As I spent time in prayer about this, the Lord brought to mind Matthew 25 (see Wisdom and Folly Defined). I realized that I did not have enough oil. The labor of prayer was overshadowing the enjoyment of prayer. There are wounds in my heart that I have not wanted to face, causing me to be busy with work and entertainment in my spare time. Even in prayer my mind is busy. There is a difference between keeping your mind active in spiritual matters (bible study, ministry, disciplines, etc.) and sitting with the Lord in silence. It’s like I have sat with the Lord with an objective of what we talk about, totally ignoring the emotions coming up in my heart. It is difficult to have a conversation with someone who is ignoring the subjects you want to talk about. Because of this much of my prayer is spent with me talking about God rather than to God.
Within the same week I received a Prophetic word that the Lord was drawing me into a focused season of solitude, where it would be time with just The Lord and me; no books, no music, no agenda, just being with Him. I knew this was the word of the Lord for me in this season. The idea of extended silence, with no distractions to entertain my senses sounded horrifying. In silence I am aware of my thoughts, my emotions, my pain, and my quirky personality. This fear confirmed that I am holding back and avoiding parts of my heart. How can I love the Lord with “my whole heart” when I am not living from “my whole heart?”
Just as it took time for my heart to drift away from the stream of intimacy, so it will take time and intentionality to get back in the stream. The goal is to enter into His rest; to abide in Christ. So the journey into solitude looks like being with Him, with no agenda or reservations. It looks like laying aside all pretense of ministry roles and performances (religious activities). There is nothing to be earned or any need to fear rejection. He has desired me; not my pretenses. He wants the messy and quirky me to receive His affections. Through abiding in this love I am transformed and able to love Him fully.
I have much more to say on this subject. It is a theme that I have valued over the years. I have had the language and gone through the disciplines, but the Lord is reaching deeper. So I hope to share this journey with you as it unfolds.
We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with Him and Him alone. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature. Solitude is a place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. -Henri Nouwen
Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Operations Director at Ember