By Any Means Necessary
The phrase “by any means necessary” finds it origins in a 1948 French play “Dirty Hands” by Jean-Paul Sartre. It entered the popular civil rights culture through a speech given by Malcolm X at the Organization of Afro-American Unity founding rally on June 28, 1964. It is generally considered to leave open all available tactics for the desired ends.
OK…so you’ve connected the dots…this history of “by any means necessary” lends itself to the option of violence. And this is a post about silence and solitude? What’s the connection? What’s that have to do with practicing silence and solitude? Everything! As this series on this spiritual discipline unfolds you may be saying, “I want this”, “I need this”, but to what lengths are you willing to go in order to make it happen?
Consider what comes into your mind when you hear the phrase “silence and solitude”. Is it scenes of a quiet, comfortable space with a big overstuffed chair, roaring fire in the fireplace, a cup of coffee and your Bible? Is it out in nature, on a beach or a hike, walking and thinking and resting in the Presence of God in creation? Is it in front of a window, watching the world wake up from the comfort of your couch and with the Scriptures in your hand? Be honest about your reality right now. These may not be possible for this reason or that. Instead of waiting until you have the ways, means, and time to make any of these scenes happen, why not ask yourself how this discipline can collide with your present reality.
In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas helps the reader discover their own unique pathway to God. He cites some of the Bible greats and their out-of-the-box approach to God. “Abraham had a religious bent, building altars everywhere he went… David celebrated God with an enthusiastic style of worship, while his son Solomon expressed his love for God by offering generous gifts…Mary of Bethany is the classic contemplative sitting at Jesus’ feet.”
If you are waiting for God to make it (Silence & Solitude) happen for you, it may be a long wait. Is it possible we need to take on a by-any-means-necessary attitude in this area of our spiritual life?
God calls us to quiet time with Him in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…” If you are waiting for Him to make it happen for you, it may be a long wait. Is it possible we need to take on a by-any-means-necessary attitude in this area of our spiritual life?
Some of those who have modeled for me thriving spiritual growth have taken silence and solitude to extremes to make it happen. Let me share a few.
In the early years of our officership my husband and I invited a Canadian officer couple to conduct evangelistic meetings in our corps. Throughout the week there were moments when the husband was MIA (missing in action) only to learn that he would be in his car for a time with God. He spoke of it as a sacred vacuum that lent itself to not only eliminated noise, but those close to him knew that when they looked out in the driveway and saw him in the car they were to give him his “space”.
I have often heard parents of young children speak of the impossibility of silence and solitude. Many have found they have had to lock themselves in the bathroom while the other spouse played defense with the children.
Personally, I crave time alone and the quiet, but sometimes find sitting still agonizing. I have struggled with the guilt and shame of this for many years. I have had thoughts that maybe I did not love God enough if I couldn’t sit quietly and listen for His voice. God has released me from that struggle in that some of my greatest alone time with Him is when I take a walk. I have found the parks and quiet streets in my area and whether baseball cap and sunglasses to block the sun or bundling up in coat and boots, walking and experiencing nature around me have been intimate times with my Lord. I have even written out a few verses of scripture on a 3”X5” card and tucked it in my pocket for meditating as I walk.
Don’t let anyone dictate to you what your silence and solitude time must look like. Ask God to give you insight, to lead you into the endless possibilities for alone time to hear from Him.
And, by the way, if you see me walking in your neighborhood… please don’t be offended if I just walk on by… I’m listening to God.
Written by Major Lauren Hodgson of the Spiritual Life Development Department