It’s hard to have imagined a year ago all that we would be facing in spring 2020. Having family home full-time, I have enjoyed more meals together around the table, walks around my neighborhood, and especially moments of solitude in a corner of my backyard.
Solitude and seclusion don’t come naturally for most of us. Our culture has historically discouraged these practices, not viewing them as gifts or invitations. Now as a collective community, we have opportunity to redefine limitations and to decide what perspective we will choose. Maybe you’ve embraced your solitude, or maybe it has brought discouragement and boredom.
In his book The Attentive Life: Discovering God’s Presence in All Things, Leighton Ford writes, “In perpetual motion I can mistake the flow of my adrenaline for the moving of the Holy Spirit; I can live in the illusion that I am ultimately in control of my destiny and my daily affairs… French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal observed that most of our human problems come because we don’t know how to sit still in our room for an hour.”
Scripture gives us many examples of how God used stillness and seemingly “insignificant” time to grow His people. One of those is in the life of Moses.
Exodus 2 provides a snapshot of Moses’ birth and adoption into Pharaoh’s family. Next we find the short phrase, “One day, after Moses had grown up….”
Acts 7:23 tells us forty years passed during that period of Moses’ life. Forty years of “growing up” until the next snapshot of Moses’ intervention in a conflict between an Egyptian and a Hebrew. Moses’ killing of the Egyptian and resulting consequences led to his flight to Midian.
In Midian Moses experienced another season of formation. Another forty years go by while Moses settles as a foreigner, marries Zipporah, and fathers two sons (Exodus 2:21-22, Acts 7:29-30).
Exodus 2:23 records it as “that long period” during which the king of Egypt died and Israel continued to suffer in slavery. God was doing important work in Moses’ life. Important work that took time. God gave Moses 40 years of growth in Egypt, and another 40 years of growth in Midian. All this God believed was necessary before Moses stepped into a role with Israel that would change the course of history.
Where are your “long periods” of formation? Could it be that God is doing something significant in your life in the time that feels brutally ordinary and oh-so-daily?
Nearly three decades of Jesus’ life were lived in what must have been ordinary common Nazareth life. We have a brief snapshot of him at 12 years old in the temple courts in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. That snapshot is bookended with two seemingly benign verses.
“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
Growth. Wisdom. These repeated words are the gold nuggets of ordinary life. They are forged in periods of formation, which God often orchestrates during seasons of solitude.
If you find yourself discouraged in a season that seems still and commonplace, may you know today that God is at work. Ask him to reveal what he might want to say to you during this time. Trust that even if you can’t see what he is doing, He is at work in you.