As often as I’ve been writing these IWG Journals, about 16 years now, I haven’t written too much about our endeared hermitages. As you can see from the photo above, for ‘first timers,’ they are delighted to see how quaint and wonderful these little one-room cabins really are. Let me be clear, they are not an entity of our ministry, but one that I found years ago that suited ever so perfectly my desire to be alone with the Lord for an extended period of time. I did find a place years ago that was 11 hours from our home here in Iowa. Talk about being desperate! It was a long drive to be sure, but one that I hold very near and dear to my heart. In the picture above, this is a similar place much closer to us, about a 4 hour drive. And believe me, it’s worth the drive! I’ve been leading women into this unusual and profound experience for over 25 years; my husband has taken the men from time to time as well.
In our Christian walk, it is imperative that we spend time alone with the Lord, reading His Word and communing with Him in prayer. Every believer ought to have that ‘alone time’ with the Divine Lover of their soul at the start of each day if possible. Of course, some schedules are not conducive to that time of day, but it certainly is imperative to have our daily times of fellowship with our Savior. A heart that’s on fire for Him really cannot stay away from Him and seeks His Presence in ever deepening ways. A hermitage will take you above and beyond that!
I can’t think of any better company than that of the Savior of my soul to bask in His Presence hour after hour in uninterrupted peace, quiet, joy, strength and glory! Being alone by yourself in your own private little one-room cabin, affords you the time to soak as long as you want. The daily rush of life is set aside for a few days, and it does indeed take awhile to get used to having quantity and quality time alone with the Lord. Many whom I’ve led into these experiences find they don’t quite know what to do with themselves for the first few hours or so. But after awhile, the often quoted scripture of Psalm 46:10 begins to take hold of their souls: “Be still and know that I am God.” Then, they can hardly get enough!
Who knows how to do that in this day and age of constant activity with jobs, kids, grandkids, sports, dance classes, music lessons, community commitments, even church activities, and the list goes on and on. If it’s not these things, there are also the intrusions of TV, the internet, Face Book, texting, etc. There seems to be more and more of a barrage of activities, busyness, sounds from every angle. For some, it appears that if our schedule is full, it means we’re living a fulfilled life, right? Hmmm…really?! Perhaps this is the reason for so much ‘burn out’ in our society, headaches, sorrows and lack of true fulfillment and joy! Many simply do not know how to ‘be still,’ they don’t know how to be ‘quiet,’ they don’t have a clue what it even means. It’s like the old cry: “Stop the world, I want to get off!” Everything is spinning, churning and moving — sometimes seemingly out of control as we go from one thing to another with barely a word to our Maker, Creator, Savior and Lover of our souls.
It might seem to some that a hermitage is a boring place, a place where you wouldn’t know what to do with all the time on your hands. But remember how Jesus was led into the desert for 40 days? It was indeed a hard time for Him, ‘being tempted by the devil’ as scripture tells us. Nevertheless, He emerged from that time of solitude and silence with great astounding power! That’s exactly what a hermitage will do for you. It will change you, no doubt. You will receive things from the Lord you probably would not have otherwise received had you not gone into an extended time alone with Him, to really and truly listen with nothing distracting you but your own breathing.
If our Lord found it necessary to go away from the crowds to be alone with the Father, surely it’s an example for us to do the same. How many times have we read John 6:15 how the Lord ‘withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone’? John 12:36b states it again how He went away and hid Himself from them. Matthew 14:23 says: “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6, Verse 31 there is the invitation for all of us: “And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile.” If they needed that, what about us in this day and age of so many distractions we can hardly count them?!
But one passage that ought to be near and dear to our hearts is the one of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. [Matt. 26:36-46] Some spiritual battles can only be fought and won in the private, quiet place of secluded prayer.
I love to quote Mark 1:35 when we embark in the early morning hours for our hermitages. It says, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” It’s a precious time alone with the Lord beyond anything else!
A sea of sounds
In our society it seems as if everyone is talking at once. In any given moment we can hear a barrage of voices and sounds coming from different directions. It could be the TV, our car radio, something on our I-pads, I-phones, the office chatter, the mall, the gas station, an answering machine… wherever and whenever, there are sounds and voices everywhere! It’s seemingly a sea of sounds that permeate and perpetuate our sphere of influence in a constant barrage day after day. Even at night, street sounds can be heard. Where in the world does one find true quiet in this day and age? Well, the scriptures do tell us to seek it! Why? Because true, holy quietness before the Lord brings times of refreshing we could not otherwise enjoy.
Oftentimes we are doing all the talking in prayer, and that’s OK of course – to a point. But what’s needed just as much, or perhaps even more, is that we really ought to be listening a bit more than we’re used to. Too often we are talking to the Lord in our prayer times, crying out and asking for things, etc., when what we really need to be doing more often than not, is just simply waiting and listening to the Divine Voice of our Creator.
His Word declares the invitation
- Psalm 131:2, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” Talk about being restful!
- Psalm 23 everyone seems to know, but not too many take to heart verse 2, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” One of the really neat things on these hermitages is the two boardwalks situated on the edge of the lake. They are certainly great places of contemplation and one’s soul is restored to a new depth.
- Zephaniah 1:7 admonishes us with these words: “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near, for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.” On our hermitages, I consecrate/anoint each of the ladies. Some, feeling the power of God even at that particular moment, are overcome by the Holy Spirit!
- Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” And there you have both the quiet love and the exalting joy of such a profound experience with the Lord on these hermitages away from busy society. It’s so refreshing! So amazing! So memorable!
- Isaiah 30:15 says, “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” I have found through all the years I’ve been journeying on these hermitages, that indeed there is a profound strength that comes over me as I’ve soaked in quietness before the Lord. I can go back into the world doing things I never could do before!
- Isaiah 32:17 is comforting as well: “And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.” There is a certain confidence that washes over you on these hermitages. It gives you a new perspective of yourself and of life. It enables you to move onward and upward in Christ Jesus like never before! Fear seems to dissipate and is replaced with amazing confidence.
The amazing thing about the hermitages and learning about silence before the King of Kings is that you find a new depth within yourself that you never knew existed. It’s hard to explain, but a ‘new you’ emerges from these sacred times alone with the Lord. The times of silent soaking before Him causes your heart and soul to go to depths of your relationship with Him you never dreamed were possible. As a result, many make this a yearly pilgrimage.
One certainly does not have to go with our group. But I strongly suggest you try it either with us, or on your own. It will change you just as 2 Corinthians 3:18 declares: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” I count that as a ‘Hallelujah’! Who doesn’t want to go from glory to glory?!
Isn’t it amazing what the Word declares in Habakkuk 2:20? “But the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.” There is a certain profoundness that will come upon the earth in the Last Days as the Lord begins His millennial reign. Take note of Revelation 8:1 which states it this way: “When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” This is hard to fathom, and yet it is Truth itself speaking here. There is indeed something quite profound and holy in coming before the Lord in quietness of heart and stillness of spirit to soak in His Presence. It brings not only a refreshing and renewal of your mind, heart and soul, but brings you into the divine spectaculars of God’s Presence and power that cannot be had in any other way. This is the very reason, that in this precarious hour of humanity in which are now living, it is key that we learn to “be still and know God.” We’re going to need His strength in ways we’ve not ever known before. Let us prepare now!