Last year, when I was going through Celebrate Recovery, I realized that I have a tendency to isolate and insulate myself from others. I like to draw myself away and cut myself off from others so that I don’t get hurt. Then, as if sequestering myself wasn’t enough, I will put all kinds of things around me so that I don’t have to get close to anyone. I will insulate myself with busyness or work or obligations or distractions so that I don’t have to get close to anyone. This is a defense mechanism that I’ve developed over the years that I’m learning doesn’t serve me nearly as well as I once thought.
When I was writing yesterday’s post, I kept returning to verse ten of the chapter that highlights the topic of isolation. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, so we’re going to revisit this verse again today.
“Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.”” Nehemiah 6:10 (ESV)
We know that Shemaiah wasn’t speaking honestly and wasn’t listening to the voice of the Lord. Instead, he had taken a bribe from Nehemiah’s enemies in order to trick him and prevent the work from being finished. But what’s so interesting to me is how Shemaiah is described. He was “confined to his home”.
On its face, it doesn’t seem like anything of note. maybe he had a physical limitation and couldn’t leave the house. Or maybe he was forced to stay indoors because of circumstances that were outside of his control. There could be a hundred reasons why he was confined to his home. But I’m wondering if it’s because he, like me, thought isolation was his best yes. What if he intentionally isolated himself out of fear or shame or self-protection?
I recently listened to a message by Pastor Robert Morris that really convicted me. About 28 minutes in, he differentiated between isolation and solitude.
Solitude is getting alone with God.
Isolation is getting alone with you.
Jesus didn’t isolate, he sought solitude. Yet, I often find myself seeking isolation instead of solitude. A lot of the times, especially after a hard week, I don’t want to be alone with God, I want to be alone with myself. I want to have a pity party or wallow or commiserate with myself. I want to numb myself with food or entertainment or work, instead of processing through difficult things with the Lord.
But, at the end of the day, he wants us to spend those moments in solitude with him. God isn’t bothered or annoyed when we come to him and sit with him, he desires that. He rejoices when we choose to meet with him in solitude instead of running and hiding in isolation.
I feel like God is beckoning us to be people of solitude, who run to him instead of from him. He longs to spend time with us and covets those moments of sweet intimacy with us. Let’s run to him today!
Are you a person of solitude or isolation?
How can you seek solitude today?