Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fortress of Solitude

My mother still lives in the modest, yellow cinderblock home on Forest Drive. The bedroom where I used to sleep is now filled with office furniture, a filing cabinet, some boxes, and other miscellaneous items that have no place of their own. It looks very different than it did when I resided in that cozy 10ft. by 10 ft. space. That room was, for me, a fortress of solitude--a place for me to escape the brutality of pre-teen life and the drama of a broken home. There, in that space, I could tune it all out, listen to the radio (a lost art on Generation Y), play with G.I. Joe™ action figures who drove around in "civilian" Fieros™ and Fire Engines, and create a world of my own.

It was during that time however, that my interests began to change. In a changing world that was falling apart, I found that the one person who remained strong, firm, true, and faithful was this God I had heard about from as early as I could remember. At some point during my pre-teens, my faith had become my own. I still played with G.I. Joes and listened to the radio, but that room had also became the place where I would connect to my Heavenly Father, in prayer, in his word, and in reflection on what he was doing in my life. It was a quiet place, a peaceful place, a place where I gained strength and became convinced of my identity in Christ.

This place was, for me, not unlike Superman's Fortress of Solitude, which is featured in all the major Superman movies (with the exception of Superman III). In this crystal cave outside of Metropolis, Superman would escape the chaos and confusion of big-city life and the pressure of being a superhero, to find peace, gain strength, and remind himself of his true identity. Those who follow the Superman myth know that this fortress contains numerous "memory crystals" that can be used to access Superman's alien father's artificial intelligence and holographic image. (I'm sure some of you comic nerds out there may take issue with this statement, but I don't claim to be a Superman expert.)

The discipline of solitude used to seem like a natural thing to me; I didn't feel the need to be disciplined in this discipline. I was kind of a quiet kid with no real responsibilities, so reflection just kind of happened. When my faith became my own, reflection in the presence of God, prayer, and absorbing His word became a regular occurrence.

Now, however, as a husband to 1, father of 4, and pastor of a healthy church in central Florida, pet owner, etc., solitude is hard to find. The discipline of solitude takes discipline. So, I often withdraw to my office, before the day begins, to reflect, absorb God's word, and pray.

When I think of my need for quiet time with God, I often reflect on Jesus' habitual practice of solitary prayer. In Luke 5:16, the author tells us that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." See Mark 1:35; Mark 6:46; Luke 4:42; Luke 6:12; John 6:15 for more illustrations of Jesus' habit. In those solitary places, Jesus would escape the crowds begging to be healed, the Disciples who couldn't seem to grasp what he was saying, and the religious leaders who wanted him dead. In that solitary place, I imagine he found peace in the presence of his Father, strength for his mission, and became convinced of his identity as "Son of God," "Son of Man," and savior of the world.

If he who was one with the Father found it important to withdraw to a fortress of solitude and converse with his Heavenly father, how much more important is it for us to do so?

So, I encourage you to find your own solitary place, and often withdraw there to converse with your Heavenly Father.

1 comments:

The Toolman said...

Thanks for sharing this, Dan. Actually, you have already told me most of this, but its been a while since we've sat and talked about "deep stuff" (or even shallow stuff...). This is something I have been struggling with for a while; taking time, every day, to get into God's Word and keep in touch with the One who knows all the answers to all of my little problems. I guess I just wanted to say thanks for the "prod" to my conscience or "encouragement" - yeah, that's more positive. ;-)

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