Season of Seclusion
There’s a reason for every season that we go through!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 mentions the following: "Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses." (Good News Translation)
There’s an intentional and unique purpose for the current season that we find ourselves in.
Although the world has shifted our attention towards a pandemic, I’m convinced that our season of seclusion is connected to a spiritual purpose. The word seclusion can be defined as the state of being private and away from other people.
This season of seclusion may limit our opportunities to interact in an external environment, but it’s filled with opportunities to improve ourselves internally. After this “pandemic” season concludes, we’ll be left to answer a significant question...
“How did I use this time to improve myself and my relationship with God?”
Listen to how the God’s Word Translation captures Colossians 2:20
“If you have died with Christ to the world’s way of doing things, why do you let others tell you how to live? It’s as though you were still under the world’s influence.”
This season has and will continue to reveal what we are influenced by:
Are you more influenced by the ways of the world or the word of God?
Are you more inspired by Christ or intimidated by the Corona Virus?
Our season of seclusion will ultimately be the season that sets us back or the one that set us up to move forward. This will be the most idle time that we have before God reveals the next phase of our purpose. An enforced period of isolated time doesn’t happen often.
We have to realize that we have the authority to determine how we utilize this season. This time should be used to position ourselves to complete the purpose that God assigned to us.
If we are not intentional about how we use our time of seclusion, we‘ll accidentally delay what God wants to do in our lives. It becomes difficult for God to do a new thing if we remain the same.
One Forbes article reported that “TikTok” is the most downloaded app worldwide, being downloaded over 1.9 billion times. As of March 2020, there are 800 million people who actively use this digital application.
Towards the end of 2019, YouVersion announced that the Bible App has been installed on over 400 million unique devices over an eleven year time period.
I’m an advocate for having fun and being social, but the development of our faith has to be a higher priority. I’m sure that there’s a level of excitement from perfecting a choreographed dance routine, but is that more important than perfecting the character needed to take the steps that God has ordered for you?
As I scroll through my social media timeline, I’ve seen a lot of people express their anticipation to resume their normal outdoor activities.
The question that I would propose to those with this level of anticipation would be:
Are you just looking to resume your normal activities or are you looking to resume the assignment that God has called you to?
Our perspective of this season will ultimately determine how we utilize it. This appointed time of seclusion shouldn’t be looked at as punishment. This is an opportunity to prepare for the new things that God has planned for you.
I understand the difficulty that comes with this perspective. From childhood to adulthood, seclusion has been used as a form of chastising or punishment. This emphasizes the importance of Romans 12:2
Listen to how The Passion Translation captures this verse:
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”
Instead of imitating the patterns of the culture, we have to seek an internal transformation of how we think. This will ultimately lead to living the life that God designed for you. Your season of seclusion is not a vacation. It’s an opportunity to reassess your foundation.
The word reassess can be described as an additional assessment of something while paying attention to new or different factors. Your next season will be the beginning of a season that you’ve never seen before.
The Passion Translation of Matthew 7:24-25 states the following about foundation:
“Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation. When the rains fell and the flood came, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.”
You can’t afford to be bored when your next season requires a stronger infrastructure. As this scripture states, a foundation built on biblical application remains firm through ANY storm!
Verses 26 and 27 demonstrate what happens to a weak foundation:
“Everyone who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it will be like a foolish person who built a house on sand. Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and struck that house. It collapsed, and the result was a total disaster.” (God’s Word Translation)
This virus hasn’t only emphasized the importance of proper sanitation, it has also exposed the foundation of our lives. This is the reason that we’ve seen some Christians react like the rest of the world instead of respond as a child of God.
This season of seclusion is not only an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, it’s an opportunity to reinforce our foundation!
Trials Produce Transformation
Trials aren’t designed to produced trouble. They are used to initiate transformation. One synonym of the word trial is suffering. The God’s Word Translation of Romans 5:3-4 mentions the following about suffering
“....We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.”
We can ultimately celebrate suffering because it contributes to the person that we need to be in our next season. As the text states, our trials produce endurance. The ability to withstand adversity aligns perfectly with the character needed for our calling. Once we develop the character that aligns with our calling, we ultimately develop the confidence needed to complete it!
Contrary to belief and the memes circulating the internet, you DON’T have to come out of this quarantine with a new skill or side hustle. Thinking of a new way to generate income doesn’t necessarily equate to a change for the better.
There are people in the world that have multiple skills and streams of income that remain the same person for years. God wants you to come out of this season inwardly transformed!
He doesn’t care about how you look to the culture, he cares more about your contribution to the kingdom. As I mentioned on a recent prayer call, you will remain the same if you are not intentional about your transformation. Inward transformation doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t happen by just reading the word.
Listen to how The Message captures Matthew 7:24
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on”
We have to be intentional about applying the word of God to our lives. The Bible is more than a book of motivation, and shouldn’t be considered an incidental addition to your life.
A synonym of the word incidental is secondary. The word of God cannot and should not be seen as a secondary or dispensable addition to your life. It has to be intentionally used to improve your standard of living.
It looks great to have a bible filled with highlighted scriptures and notes from a morning prayer call or bible study, but what relevance do they possess if you are not using them to improve your life?
The Message Translation of Matthew 7:26-27 mentions the following:
“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.“ When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.
If the word of God is only applauded during a prayer call instead of being incorporated into our lives, we may find ourselves figuratively collapsing like a house of cards when a storm comes.
Every storm is not an attack or attempt to take you out. Some storms are allowed to simply test the sturdiness of your foundation. Our trials ultimately prove if we are truly transformed.
One reason that we find ourselves secluded is to not just read the word of God, but to have the time to fully interpret it. It’s easy to go through the motions of reading another morning devotional or watching another Sarah Jakes Roberts sermon, but now we have the time to truly digest the text.
This reminds me of the book written by Eugene Peterson titled “Eat This Book”. This book encourages us to go beyond just reading the word. Peterson inspires us to take the time to “eat” or digest the gospel presented in the Bible. Once we interpret and understand what the word of God truly means, it becomes easier to incorporate it into our lives.
Philippians 4:13 hits different when you realize that Christ will give you the strength to do anything that you’re called to, and that you don’t have to rely on your own strength to do it!
Philippians 4:12-13 The Passion Translation
“I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.”
Our inward or internal transformation starts with reading the word, and it continues with a strong comprehension of it.
It’s unfortunate that trials are used as the initiating force behind a prayer or picking up the Bible, but trials also give us an opportunity to reestablish both our foundation and our relationship with God.
The New Normal
Listen to what Jesus tells the disciples following the miracle of feeding 5,000 people:
“Let me make this very clear, you came looking for me because I fed you by a miracle, not because you believe in me.”
John 6:26 TPT
Unfortunately, there are some people that haven’t prayed with persistence until this pandemic occurred. This echoes the message relayed to the disciples. Some of us aren’t seeking Jesus because of our confidence in him, but as a final resort to protect us from a foreign virus.
After this pandemic concludes, some will resume their normal routine; praising God on Sunday and doing their own thing from Monday to Saturday. We can't afford to be desperate for God in this season and distant from him in the next. We have to learn to be dedicated to him in EVERY SEASON!
Listen to how The New Living Translation captures Isaiah 43: 18-19
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
If you want God to do a new thing, then you will have to adopt a new routine. You can’t afford to bring dry habits into your season of overflow! If you remain committed to your old ways, you will ultimately delay your new blessings!
Our intentionality with God during this season has to continue in our next season. I know that we haven’t been this intimate or intentional with our relationship with God, but this ultimately has to become our new normal.
THE NEW NORMAL
Pursuing Christ outside of a crisis
Praying as a first response not a last resort
Praising God every day, not just on Sunday
Practicing celibacy until marriage
Men and Women mirroring Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5 (Respectively)
More Devotional Reading, less social media scrolling
More Online Bible Studies, less happy hour appearances
This will always seem odd to the world, but this has to be the adopted normalcy for Christians.
We cannot come out of this secluded season the same way that we came in. Again, we don’t have to come out with a new skill or a business plan, but we should come out with a renewed spirit and a reformed mindset.
The Good News Bible mentions the following about Jesus returning his hometown of Nazareth
“Because they did not have faith, he did not perform many miracles there.”
Matthew 13:58 GNB
If we don’t adopt the new normal, this will become our next narrative. Jesus can’t perform new miracles if we come out this current season with the same capacity of faith.
Mustard seed faith will always possess the ability to move a mountain, but it becomes limited when fear and doubt occupies most of your spiritual space. If we aren’t intentional about what occupies our space, we will start to accept dysfunction as the norm.
Some of us have grown accustomed to walking by faith while managing a feeling of fear. Listen to what Paul mentions to his son Timothy about fear:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
It may be reasonable to have an initial feeling of fear when approaching a fearful situation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to hold onto it.
God doesn’t want us managing or holding onto something that he didn’t equip us with. If God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, then operating with fear shouldn’t be considered normal or acceptable, even as a human being.
This is the reason that our season of seclusion should be used to read and study the word of God. To paraphrase Romans 10:17, our faith is a result of hearing the word of God. Not only do we have to refine our faith in this season, we also have to be intentional about removing our fears.
Here’s a quick fact about both faith and fear: Faith is always based on the truth and fear is always based on the opposite. Faith and fear are also based on something that you can’t see!
We can’t physically see Christ or the Corona Virus, but we have the authority to choose what we want to believe in: The Mustard Seed or The Mountain?
SPOILER: The mustard seed moves the mountain!
The Good News Translation of James 1:22 states the following:
“Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice.”
This season is about refining your faith by hearing the word. Your upcoming season will be about putting it into action!
It’s great to know the word of God, but your next victory will be determined by how well you apply it!