Spiritual Disciplines // SILENCE & SOLITUDE
By Donia Hovet
This past few weeks my Bible reading plan has focused on the Book of Leviticus. If you’re unfamiliar with Leviticus, it is the third book of the Bible, focusing on the sacrificial system, which includes offerings, feasts and the priestly garb. On one hand, it is fascinating because Jesus is the fulfillment of it; on the other, it is a bit droning and even a little gross. Case in point: Chapter 15, “Bodily Discharges.” Ew.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the Bible NEVER disappoints. Just when I think a section is mundane, I find a holy treasure. This morning I came across this verse:
On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the LORD’S presence from all your sins. It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. This is a permanent law for you.”Leviticus 18:29-31
After 30 years of following Jesus, I am just now learning about this additional expression of Sabbath, the day God set aside for rest and called holy (Genesis 2:3).
This past Sunday, Isaac spoke about money and how it corrupts us. It causes us to STRIVE. We are prone to greed, to work, to toil, to take, to consume. Nehemiah walked into a terrible situation where this type of striving was enslaving the very people God SET FREE. Money is a constant threat to our freedom. The pursuit of worldly goods, both the tangible (possessions) and the intangible (experiences, status), corrupts our relationship with healthy work. God knew this would happen. His solution: mandatory rest.
It is interesting the language used in Leviticus: “You must DENY YOURSELVES.” Deny ourselves of what? Of our right to work, gain, earn, strive. This is part of the purification that was required of the Israelites. I also notice that twice in these three verses it states that this is a permanent law. I haven’t performed an exegetical study to discover the exact Hebrew translation, but taking these words at face value, I think we should assume that ignoring God’s mandate to rest will be a non-starter with him.
Today, silence and solitude will serve as a “mini-Sabbath.” We are going to experience the goodness of God’s rest for a few moments and be reminded that his unfailing love and faithfulness are ours, not because of what we do or have, but because of who we are: beloved sons and daughters of the creator of the universe.
- Read Psalm 25:4-10.
- Reflect on verses 8-9. What path has God set before us when it comes to rest? What is God’s way? How is it different from ours?
- Sit in silence for 2-3 minutes. Focus on God’s unfailing love. As your mind pulls toward your task list or gets distracted, say these words out loud: “God, you are full of unfailing love and faithfulness. I quiet myself before you” then take a deep breath and continue.
- Throughout the week, when you feel frenzied, worried or harried, stop for 2-3 minutes and avail yourself of God’s Sabbath rest.