Isolation is often the initiating force to elevation! We’re quick to celebrate being elevated, but cringe at the thought of isolation.
We have to remember that separation is one of the requirements for elevation. Every one and every thing can’t come with you to your next destination.
We also have to remember that every flight we board isn’t for vacation. Some flights lead to a spiritual retreat. In addition to daily spiritual activities, this form of retreat can be described as one that involves leaving behind our distractions to initiate an internal change within us. To ensure that happens, God may place us in a isolated space.
To be transparent about my season of isolation, it’s been a difficult season for me. Although I’m an introvert, I’m not a fan of extended isolation. One of the toughest parts of this season has been being single. From having my emotions played with on Twitter to seeing couples celebrate anniversaries and the arrival of new children, it’s been both celebratory and devastating at the same time.
When I entered my last relationship two years ago, I envisioned us experiencing the same moments together. From ring shopping and picking out baby names to my ex “apparently” living her best life without me has left me both confused and frustrated. This made me realize the importance of accepting my feelings. I realized that I had to acknowledge my pain before I could adjust my perspective. If I pretended that everything was good, I wouldn’t be pushed to alter or change my perspective.
Without the appropriate perspective of singleness or isolation, the discomfort attached to this season of our lives will be increased.
The New King James Version of 2 Timothy 1:6 mentions the following:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Two synonyms of the word stir are agitation and disturbance. Sometimes a season of isolation is designed to agitate our gifts. It’s easy to brag about your calling when it’s comfortable, but do we possess the same enthusiasm when we are called during a season of commotion?
Listen to The Message Translation of this same verse:
“And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
The word ablaze can be defined as burning fiercely. Isolation can be the thing that initiates or reignites the inner fire within us.
As a college basketball player, I always looked forward to the offseason. This is the period of time between the team’s final game and first practice of the new season.
Although I enjoyed the brotherhood and bonding of the regular season, I loved the emphasized focus on my skill set. I realized that my improvement would not only make me a better player, but it also would give us a greater chance to win a championship.
This is the mentality that we have to develop in our season of isolation. The reason that God has you in a “offseason” is to do the necessary work to win in your next season.
God will honor your prayer if you do the preparation for it! Although my heart yearns for companionship, the next phase of my calling requires greater concentration. As I plan to begin my coursework at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the fall, my offseason work will determine if I’m truly prepared to succeed in my initial semester. The work done in your waiting season carries the same, if not more significance than your winning season. A winning season isn’t only because of how God is working in it.
Here’s what the Good News Bible Translation of Galatians 6:7 says about this:
“Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. People will reap exactly what they sow.”
Your reaping season is ultimately the result of what you’ve sown! We can’t complain about God being silent when the loudest part of our lives is our complaints. Don’t expect God to take you from corporate employment to entrepreneurship if you haven’t done the internal work to become an entrepreneur.
To paraphrase the previous scripture, God is not going to let anyone make a fool out of him. He isn’t about to promote a poor employee to the role of Chief Executive Officer, especially if they haven’t sown this type of harvest!
I recently came across a meme that said, “Single until what I pray for finds me.” Although this statement is comforting and Proverbs 18:22 states that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing, I want to propose a question:
What are you doing until you are “found”?
Honestly this is way more significant than being found. If a man discovers a woman who hasn’t fully addressed her trust issues and insecurities, has he truly found a treasure? It’s admirable for a man to love a woman through these flaws, but he’ll ultimately become burned out if he has to do the inner work for the both of them. Entering a relationship doesn’t mean that he can neglect his internal work. Everything that is found isn’t meant to be kept. Some things have to be released to be repaired.
How appealing is a totaled Mercedes Benz that needs a new engine, brakes, rotors, transmission, tires and framework?
Would this be considered a prize or a project? This could be considered a prize if most or all of the internal issues were addressed.
If I could re-write this meme or phrase, it would read...
“I’m doing the inner work until the one that I prayed for finds me!”
The Good News Bible Translation of James 2:17-18 mentions the following:
“So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.”
Don’t be the person that has faith without the actions to support it. The best way to demonstrate that we are ready for our next blessing is by doing the necessary work to receive it!
Preparation becomes difficult without anything to pour from. Sometimes our prayer requests are delayed because of having insufficient funds in our spiritual account. Insufficient can be defined as not having enough in terms of amount or strength.
Ultimately we can’t afford what we are asking God for. I’m not referring to not having enough money to attend college or start a business. I’m referring to the strength to endure the challenges that come with both.
I realized this when I began to pray for an expansion of my Life Coaching roster. Although I had an eagerness to help as many people as possible, I didn’t have enough in my spiritual account to add more clients. I’m grateful that God acted as my overdraft protection! God knew that I consistently prayed about fatigue. So it wouldn’t make sense to put more on my plate if I’m already full or fatigued. It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup. Your season of isolation could be the opportunity that you need to pour back into yourself!
Here’s what The Message Translation of Luke 5:16 mentions about Jesus
“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.”
Not only did Jesus intentionally isolate himself, he did this as often as he could. So I want you to ask yourself...
How often do I isolate myself to pray and hear from God?
How’s my spiritual balance looking?
Is there a healthy balance between my withdrawals and spiritual deposits?
Paying and giving attention to everyone else without pouring back into yourself is the quickest way to burn out and delay your blessings. Some of us wonder why God hasn’t released some of your blessings yet.
We don’t possess the spiritual strength or capacity to manage them. We’re often occupied with life’s responsibilities, social media and hoarding unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Take the necessary time to give these things to God!
To anyone that is single or has been for an extended period of time, we have to learn to ignore the temptation of rushing into a relationship. If you’re worn out from the wounds in your last relationship and the agitation attached to your adult responsibilities, this might be your offseason when it comes to dating.
Another thing that I loved about the offseason as a college athlete was the opportunity to rest and recover from the injuries that I suffered during the season. If you wouldn’t date someone that’s broke, why would you enter a relationship broken? Now you have two broke people dating.
Take this isolated time or “offseason” to pour back into YOU! You’re never going to miss what God has for you! So resist the temptation to rush towards your next blessing. Jesus didn’t miss his place on the throne because of taking time to isolate himself from the world. Remember that he did this OFTEN!
Increase Our Understanding
Listen to what the Good News Bible Translation of Luke 24:45 states:
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,”
To paraphrase what my Pastor (Dr. William Curtis) mentioned during a recent sermon, God doesn’t want us to live with a blurry understanding of him or who he is.
It’s difficult to increase our comprehension of the word when we are infatuated with social media and everything else but God. Sometimes God has to isolate us to emphasize his presence and the attention that we give him. Faith does come from hearing the word, but it’s ultimately absorbed by trust! When we think about it, can we really trust someone or something that we don’t understand.
As an introvert, I’m often misunderstood. My desire for “me time” is to recharge and withdrawal from the world in the same fashion that Jesus did. Someone who doesn’t understand that may consider me anti social or may think that I’m isolating from them to spend time with someone else. Neither are a part of my personality, but it’s easy to think that if you don’t truly know or understand me.
A greater comprehension of the word and how God works is vital to your season. It will ultimately determine if you shift forward or remain stagnant. If you don’t understand that every detail of your life is worked together for something good, you’ll remain stagnant and saddened when bad things happen.
If we truly grasp what God says in Isaiah 43:19-20, we’ll never or rarely complain about a dry season. Listen to how the Good News Bible captures it:
“Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already — you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there. Even the wild animals will honour me; jackals and ostriches will praise me when I make rivers flow in the desert to give water to my chosen people.”
When we realize that God is about to do a new thing in our lives and that he’ll bring a river to our figurative desert, our perspective has no choice but to shift. Our season of isolation isn’t punishment, it’s preparation to receive what awaits us in our next season.
As we develop a greater understanding of the word, we’ll begin to look at our burdens as blessings. We aren’t going through an isolated season just to be isolated. It’s to find God in a season of perceived loneliness.
You’ve reached a great level of spiritual understanding when you can put a “Thank You” on your greatest wound. Watching my last relationship crumble was a heartbreaking experience, but I’m grateful that it brought me closer to God instead of creating a distance between us.
The Good News Bible Translation of Ephesians 6:14 states the following:
“So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight round your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate,”
When we think about the position of a belt, it’s typically placed at the center of your body. This scripture emphasizes the importance of the word being at the center of our lives. You can’t live a stable life without the word at your core. Without truly understanding the truth, it becomes difficult to remain stable. Once we increase our comprehension, we ultimately improve our stability!