People energize. Solitude energizes. But they do so in different ways.
I suspect those are gifts from God. Let me illustrate.
When I walk through the doors where my Bible study group meets, I suddenly have more energy than I had moments before. I rotate teaching the class with Richard Griffin, but I feel this energy even when I’m not teaching. A similar thing happens at Baptist meetings I attend around the state.
This also happened recently when my daughter, Tabitha, and I spoke on “Ethics in Leadership” at a secular college campus. In other words, the energy boost is not just related to being with fellow followers of Christ; it is related to being with all children of God. There is something very special about God’s creation.
Now for solitude. I recently wrote that there is no place on earth I would rather be than sitting on my front porch. We live in the country so the view from our porch includes only one house off in the distance, so far that I can’t even tell if anyone is home. It’s not just the view that draws me to my porch; it also is the solitude that often joins me there. I find solitude, as well, when I walk through the fields and woods or along the country roads.
When I’m alone with my thoughts and with God, energy builds ever so slowly within me. It is a different energy than the one I feel with people. It is coming from somewhere deep and somewhere beyond. And soon, I no longer desire to be alone; I want people.
I love Mark 1:35-38:
“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’” (NRSV)
Jesus loved both the solitude and the people. That’s why, when I see those same loves in myself and in others, I think of them as gifts from God. They are among the ways God helps us to be more like Christ.