This week’s Personal Liturgy challenge may be the hardest one yet. So to equip and prepare ourselves for this challenge, we turn to Psalm 46.
Verse 1 of the Psalm describes God as our refuge. Whenever we encounter chaos in our daily lives, He is firm, solid, secure, and unmovable. He’s a very present help, not a distant aloof god who cannot be concerned with our everyday troubles of life. Because God is our refuge, strength, and help, we do not have to fear when our world falls apart and we’re overwhelmed with the broken situations around us.
The psalmist introduces the idea of God as our fortress in verse 7. The Hebrew word for fortress = “misgab”, and it literally means “high place, secure height, or retreat.”
Instead of being on the ground encircled by our problems and fears, we can go up to the fortress of God and look down at them. Because God is our fortress, not only do we get safety, security, and rest from the chaos, but we also get perspective, wisdom, and clarity.
The psalmist hits the peak of this song in verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.” The whole idea of a fortress is that if we are in it, we can catch a breath and be still and not worry about our life.
But for it to be our fortress, we have to go there. Otherwise it’s just a rock. If we’re not going to God’s misgab, God is still a fortress, but He’s not our fortress.
The Spiritual Discipline of Solitude
Throughout Christian history, this idea has been described as the spiritual discipline of solitude.
Solitude - getting away from everything that distracts us to focus on God.
We see this stillness modeled throughout the life of Jesus. He consistently gets away to be still before His father. Frequently the Scriptures tell us, “He withdrew and went out to a lonely place.”
Another way to say this would be that Jesus had a hidden life. Not a hidden life of sin or frivolous things, but a hidden life marked by practices that helped Him commune with his Father. When He went away, He came back strengthened.
He meditated on scripture and practiced the disciplines of prayer, feasting, fasting, and serving. And Jesus is both our Savior (He walked with the Father perfectly and paid for all our failure to seek God above all else) as well as our example. He calls us to follow Him and do the things He did. (1 John 2:6)
“I can flip a switch, but I don’t provide the electricity. I can turn on a faucet, but I don’t make the water flow. There will be no light and no liquid refreshment without someone else providing it. And so it is for the Christian with the ongoing grace of God. His grace is essential for our spiritual lives, but we don’t control the supply. We can’t make the favor of God flow, but he has given us circuits to connect and pipes to open expectantly. There are paths along which he has promised his favor… they are the stuff of everyday, basic Christianity—unimpressively mundane, but spectacularly potent by the Spirit.“
- David Mathis, Habits of Grace
Practicing the spiritual disciplines and developing a life where we incorporate them into our daily liturgies is flipping the switch. We can’t guarantee that electricity and growth are going to come, but we can flip the switch over and over and wait expectantly for it to come.
This week, our daily challenge is to spend 30 minutes alone with God each day in an effort to be still and know that He is God.
Tips for Practicing Solitude
Pick a place and time.
Start by reading the Bible.
As we fight for our solitude and time alone with God, let’s not get upset over our distraction or inattention, but go to God, our fortress.