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Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Lenten Healing: 40 Graces for Forgiveness (Day 16: Solitude)

Jesus often went off by himself to pray.
I’m an introvert, so this appeals to me. A lot.
I’ve heard that for many people it’s a challenge to carve out space for quiet, individual devotional time. Silence and solitude are disagreeable to some folks, apparently.
Not to me, man. What could be better than a cup of coffee and an uninterrupted hour with my Bible and my God? (Okay, sometimes Facebook supersedes Philippians, and Words With Friends horns in on Hosea. But the concept of sacred solitude is sound, even if its implementation goes a little shoddy in the hands of the Vulnerable-to-Distraction.)
I can hear God speak more easily when I’m alone with him than when I’m swirling through the scramble of life. Everything is open for discussion with heaven, and every word out of God’s mouth brings healing, if I’ll let it.
Once, after a meeting with someone I respected, admired, and frankly kind of idolized, I poured out my wails to God at the unexpectedly cutting words and accusations I’d received. I paced the living room, tears flowing as I catalogued the deep unjustness of what had been said to me by someone who didn’t know the whole story and wouldn’t hear it, either.
Then I felt his hands on my shoulders. “Do you think that was okay with me?” he asked.
The roiling distress inside me abated. No, what happened was certainly not okay with God.
Before going to my Father I’d spent 45 minutes on the phone with my husband and another 30 with my mom. From them I took comfort and wisdom and good counsel. But within five minutes of getting alone with God I received exactly the words I needed to direct me onto the path of forgiving and letting go.
Jesus often went off by himself to pray.
I need to, too.

* * *

And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
– Mark 6:46

* * *

I need constant reminders to come to you first, God. To start my day with you, to come to you with every grievance and fear and worry. To seek you first. Thank you that you never cross your arms and turn away because it’s taken me so long to remember that you’re the wisest counselor, the kindest comforter, and the strongest defender I’ll ever have. Thank you that you always know exactly what I need to hear. Help me to listen more carefully, today and every day.

40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. $6.49 at

With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.

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