A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAPLAIN | A Quest for Excellence - Solitude or Pause
BY JEFF KRUITHOFF
What an absolutely wonderful time of the year. The northern hemisphere has just experienced the freshness of spring and is full of promise for the summer months, while the southern hemisphere is seeing the graying of fall hinting at the wonderful memories of the summer past. What a wonderful creation our God has given us to enjoy. Of course not to leave out our members living along the middle of our planet earth, your weather is nice, but you do miss the changes of the seasons. On the positive side you are missing those changes of the seasons while wearing shorts.
This issue we continue our “Quest for Excellence” of focusing on Solitude, Scripture, Service, Support and Significant Events. We learned in the National Academy to always strive towards physical wellness and this “Quest” will hopefully help us focus on emotional and spiritual wellness.
During the last article we started a discussion on the benefits of spending time each day in solitude and how difficult it is for peacemakers to routinely engage in this habit. Hopefully some readers made an effort to work on setting aside a time to pause in solitude. Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us that there is“…a time to be silent and a time to speak…” Winston Churchill put it this way, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Our roles as law enforcement leaders constantly requires us to speak, but rarely gives us the time to sit down and listen. This is particularly difficult when we are trying to listen to God. This time in solitude can make the different between a healthy balanced approach to our work, or a scattered and disorganized way of approaching life that may yield results, but is very draining and emotionally, spiritually and even physically unhealthy in the long run.
If you spent any time in the past couple of months trying to be still and just breathe, you noticed that your mind is constantly moving from subject to subject and issue to issue. This is normal in most people and more common with people in our profession. So it is important to find a format to follow when we decide to sit still and spend time in solitude. Charlie McMahan, the teaching pastor from my home church recommends trying the following steps when learning how to spend time in solitude. It is a skill that needs to be developed and sharpened over time. Try 10 minutes at first. Make slow progress on slowing down your thoughts so you can achieve emotional and spiritual fitness.
P-PRAISE – Spend time thanking God for who he is! Proverbs 19:21 says, “We have plans, but Gods plan is what carries the day.” Once we accept that much of what happens around us in the next 24 hours is mostly beyond our control we can find it easier to merely thank God for what he is doing in our lives. It is clear that God has given us free will, and will hold us responsible for those free will decisions that we make. However, the circumstances we are faced with everyday are challenges that God will use for his purpose. These challenges cause us to lean on him. When our moments of solitude bring us closer to that dependent leaning on him; only then will we truly find comfort in the direction our day is going.
R-Repent – Be honest in your thoughts during your time in solitude. Don’t let false thoughts creep in about the state of your life. If you are in the middle of a crisis, be honest in this time of solitude with yourself. It assists you in being honest about the state of your emotional and spiritual life. If you are harboring guilt about your sin and the ways you have fallen short of the expectations being set in your life, use this time of solitude to accept that God loves you and does not want you to live in discomfort. I Peter 5:7 says, “…be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is upon you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” MSG. He wants you to enjoy your life immensely. Showing an exterior self that is contrary to our internal self only leads to destructive practices, poor relationships, and emotional and spiritual dysfunction. In John 10:10 Jesus says that “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” MSG
A-Ask - Use this time of solitude to be specific in your thoughts about what is missing in your life, about friends who are hurting, or what circumstances are causing you to lose focus or direction in your life. The bible is full of references to asking God, in faith, for healing, fulfillment, or drastic changes in our situation. You can be assured he will listen. We are promised that again and again in the bible. In Mark 11:23, Jesus encourages us to” ...pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-Life, and you’ll get God’s everything.”
Y-YIELD – When your time in solitude starts to become habitual I can and should lead to serious introspection about your life. If you are successful, you will find you are beginning to surrender yourself. Use this time to talk to God about the direction of your life. You will likely begin to feel a “nudge” about actions and direction you should take in your life. Don’t ignore this “nudge”. We must discipline ourselves to become sensitive to this feeling about actions, thoughts, or steps we must take in the day ahead.
Some of these “nudges” can be uncomfortable. You may be feeling the need to apologize to someone, or to forgive someone for something they did that was specifically hurtful. These positive “nudges” can only come from God. Your time in solitude will not lead you to do violent, or thoughtless things against your character. Keep yourself focused on the character traits of Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and proper Citizenship. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed” MSG. Another version of the bible put it “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ASV
I truly hope that some classmates will try to spend time each day in solitude. The benefits will be tremendous and be evident to peers and family that something has changed. When you get stuck just remember P-praise, R-repent, A-ask, Y-yield. Just remember to PRAY.
Until next time, God Bless.
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