Excerpt on Solitude from Hearing God’s Voice
By M. Nadine


“The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.” Is 35:1

Solitude has many faces, because it can be experienced in many ways. A face that solitude has is the face of conversion. This is the face of struggle. It is the hidden life. We have seen that solitude is an encounter with God. The struggle is the result of this encounter. It is the struggle that takes place within each of us with the Lord, with God’s will, with God’s goodness, with God’s virtue. The struggle arises when we come into God’s light and we begin to see ourselves in another way. The “self” that we begin to see in that light is something that we do not particularly like, because it is our false self. We see, and the tendency in this kind of solitude is to run, to run back into the false ego. We have to be careful, here, to enter into the struggle, into the conversion, into that hidden life within which is very much the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth.

Solitude still has another face. We find that solitude will lead us into confrontation with the enemy. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert, where He was confronted by evil. This can happen in the desert, because the enemy lives in the desert also. The enemy lurks in these lonely, solitary places, and so it can be a place of great temptation for all of us. Jesus was tempted by Satan in a lonely place when He was hungry. Scripture does not indicate that He was tempted during the forty days. It was after that fasting time, when that hunger was setting in, that He was tempted. For us, that hunger can include a spiritual hunger. We have not heard from the Lord, and so we go into this solitary, lonely place, and there we will meet the enemy. We need that confrontation, because Jesus has won that ground for us, and we need to experience that victory with Him.

Now there is still another face to solitude and that is the face of Calvary. It is suffering. It is struggle, but even more than the struggle, it is the face of the Cross. It is Calvary because He is calling us to die, to die to the false self. Here we see the loneliness of Jesus, the solitude of Jesus on the Cross, more than any other place. And we see here the struggle and the giving over of His entire life into the hands of the Father. We see and experience ourselves, this same struggle and dying in the aloneness. We see it again when Jesus went into the tomb. That is solitary prayer, waiting until the Father would come and raise Him up through His love, through His power. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). We too wait with Jesus for the Father to come and raise us up to new life in Him.

“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Is 40:31