​Where do we, as leaders, go to find refuge and solitude when we feel surrounded by the demands of ministry, those around us, and our own personal struggles? What do I do when I can only carve out a few hours of free time in my event-filled week?

John Coleman

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there” (Matt. 14:23, NKJV).

For the past 10 years, I have been blessed to live and work on the beautiful campus of CrossPointe Conference Center in Christiansburg, Va., a picturesque and peaceful place. I believe that I live in the “sweet spot” of Southwest Virginia. The beautiful campus, the New River, the Appalachian Mountains and the people enhance my joy in serving our Foursquare family. Pastors and leaders visit to enjoy a restful sabbatical, study break or pastoral care at our Center for Spiritual Renewal (CSR).

The environment in which I live is a sweet spot. However, even the sweet spot has its challenges. How do I, a person who serves others at a place where they come to find refreshment and renewal, find it for myself? How do I recharge, reconnect to the Source and find solitude?

Solitude is a time set apart to be alone and forget the worries of the day. The key to solitude for me is the outdoors, with plenty of greenspace and blue sky, where I can connect with the One who knows me best. My “sweet spot of solitude” is The Buffalo, a beautiful 3,900-foot-high mountain that has a 360-degree view of the New River Valley. My favorite time to hike is late in the afternoon. It is a place where I can be alone with the Lord to clear my thoughts, gain fresh perspective and recalibrate my life. I enjoy the view, take deep breaths and look up to the sky, focusing of the One who is greater.

The first few minutes are amazing, but, within a short time, I start to think about my obligations, my problems and my pain. I have to keep unloading my thoughts of my struggles, to “be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Slowly, the peace begins to flow, and grace comes like waves. I become aware of the presence of God as He floods my soul with the blaze of orange and yellow as the day ends.

The highlight of my journey is the Lord’s goodnight kiss when the sun makes its final blink into the horizon. My soul begins to recharge as I become refreshed and renewed in His presence. These few hours in my sweet spot of solitude and intimacy with my Creator have enabled me to soak up His peace and prepared me to serve in the power of His grace in the coming days.

So, where is your Buffalo Mountain, your sweet spot of solitude? We all need to find the time to enjoy solitude. Make an intentional effort this week to set aside a few hours in your sweet spot, leave behind the struggles of your day and embrace the presence of the Lord.

Please consider a visit to CSR East on the beautiful campus of CrossPointe. CSR is a quiet and comforting place that has been specifically designed for pastors to come alone or with their spouse, to retreat and reflect on their relationship with the Lord and with each other. If you visit, perhaps we can hike The Buffalo together.

Prayer Points

  • Pray for Lord to bring continued unity, harmony and encouragement to the local churches and pastors of Southwest Virginia (John 17:20-21).
  • Pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of His people that would lead to a wind of revival that would impact our communities, our nation and our world (Acts 4:23-31).
  • Pray that the Lord would awaken in each Foursquare pastor and leader a renewed desire for a deeper intimacy with Jesus. May this intimacy lead to a new vitality in the Holy Spirit that will yield lasting fruit in the life of each pastor and the people they serve (John 21:15-17).

Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.