Reverend Jarrod Bartholomew
Several years ago, I had the privilege of training for wilderness tours in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. The training was designed to prepare me to take small groups backpacking, canoeing and portaging for several days in the wilderness. I would use these trips as opportunities for leadership training and spiritual growth.
My training lasted 10 days and cell service was non-existent for seven of those days. Wednesday I had been in the desert for four days, the trainer/guide pulled me aside and said “Today is your solo day”.
He took me in a canoe to a desolate area and dropped me off for the day. No watch, no supplies except water, but I had a newspaper and my Bible. It turned out to be an eight hour day on my own without any technology. Just me, my Bible, and any animal that hangs out in the desert with me. It was amazing!
To be honest, I wasn’t mentally or spiritually prepared for Solo Day. A lot had happened in my life at the time, and stopping for eight hours to be alone in my thoughts, well, that’s just not a good thing very often.
I like to come back to this journal from time to time to read about my training and remind myself of what was going through my mind and heart at the time. I love (and that’s the proper use of the word) the outdoors.
But wouldn’t you know, there were lessons for me to learn that day…in the desert…by myself.
Perhaps these two lessons will serve as good reminders to you as you wind down 2022 and look forward to 2023. Just two lessons. They are quite difficult to learn and apply.
First lesson: slow down and rest a bit.
For some of you reading this, “disconnecting” or “unplugging” from the world or its devices is hard to do. However, many studies strongly encourage us to do so.
Honestly, I thought what we’ve been through for the past few years in this country and around the world would slow us down a bit. I thought it might reset the culture a bit, but instead it seems to have done more to agitate and aggravate us even in a panicked state of life and life.
Now, we would never call this stage the “panic stage”. We are too sophisticated and egocentric to label it using those terms. We would call this stage “living as if the world is going to end”. We fill our days. We fill our schedules with our vacations, dreams, goals, children’s/grandchildren’s schedules, appointments, plans, and many oddities.
By themselves they are not bad things but when they become the ultimate thing, we no longer rest. When they become ultimate things, they become idols, idols of our hearts.
And you better believe that hobbies can be an idol too. Suddenly we don’t have time to pray, time to read the Word of God, or time to fellowship with others.
Add to that a diminished ability to serve others whether in a church or in the community because we have filled our cups to overflowing with our own concoctions. We seem a little exhausted.
What if we slowed down? How about we rest a bit? What if we sabbath? I’m not talking about a discussion of what day to worship God. I mean slow down, rest, and be disciplined to focus on what matters most.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
How’s it going for you ?
There was a time in Jesus’ life when he taught, healed and served for hours, even late at night.
Then Mark writes in 1:35, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out into a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
He took a solo day. Later, the apostles had been in full ministry and Jesus told them in Mark 6:31, “Come alone into a desolate place and rest a little.”
Are you tired? Spent? Exhausted ? Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. »
Lesson number two: Trust the Lord because He is in control.
This lesson is a booger to learn. On a desolate patch of shoreline in the Canadian wilderness, I struggled long and hard with this lesson. At the time, I was actually mad at God.
Dare I say that? Sure! God already knew that and He could handle my ramblings. Some things in my life seemed to spiral out of control and I struggled to believe that God is good all the time. But to believe differently, well, that would actually be unbelief.
So I struggled. I discussed it with him during my solo day. Proverbs 3:5,6 may become so familiar to us that it may lose its luster and value, but it will never lose its truth.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your way straight.
You may be wondering, “Where to start? The Psalmist gives you a starting point: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
You must spend time in His Word. This will prove two or three things: Either you trust God or you don’t; Either you trust His Word or you don’t.
Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield for those who take refuge in him.
“Yeah, but look at all the bad things happening and suffering in the world! How can God control?
Simple. Everything points to His Kingdom forever and His glory forever. According to Proverbs 21:1 even “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like rivers of water; He turns it where He wants.
When we are in the thick of it, when we are in chaos because of the broken and sinful world we live in or because of our own brokenness and sinfulness, we can trust God.
Christian, the promise of God was true when it was written, it is true today and because the Word of God lasts forever, it will be true for eternity. God promises this: “And we know that to those who love God all things work together for good, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Do you trust him? Do you trust His Word?
I will never forget that day in the wilderness of Canada. In fact, I now plan four solo days a year on purpose, with a purpose. These two lessons can be two of the hardest lessons to learn. In fact, these lessons can be sentenced to life.
What do I mean? I mean, perhaps these are lessons that need to be learned daily for the rest of our lives and applied moment by moment. Look towards the end of 2022 and think of 2023. Do you need a Solo Day?
A solo day is not a wasted day or a day in bed or a day at the beach. Actually, it could be a day at the beach but not with a good book. In fact, it could be a day at the beach with the best book, the Word of God, and a notepad/journal. Find a “sorry” place. Read the Bible. Pray.
At first it might be one of the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done, but the more solo days you have, the better you master them.
Here are some quick tips: Solo Days are not days off for making a to-do list. This list has been on the fridge for a year. It will be there when you return. A solo day is not a “stay away from the kids” day, although it can be a little bonus gift. Solo Days are not days of relaxation.
Solo Days can be in a tree but instead of hunting, you spend time alone with God and His Word. Solo Days are on purpose. I hope you will give it a try. I would like to know your experience: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pastors of Reverend Jarrod Bartholomew at Pontiac Bible Church in Pontiac