In a surprising quest for character development, heavyweight boxing superstar Anthony Joshua recently embarked on an extraordinary journey of solitude. For four days, he confined himself to a pitch-black room in a “darkness retreat,” located in Southern Oregon, USA. The retreat cost Joshua £2,000, offering an unparalleled experience of introspection. Stripped of modern distractions, he disconnected from the world – no phone, TV, radio, or even audiobooks. His only connection to the outside world was the food slid under his door. The purpose of this venture was clear: to challenge his limits, to delve into the depths of his character.
In the heart of the darkness retreat, the echoes of a timeless story resonate – the story of Jesus’ wilderness retreat. For forty days and nights, Jesus grappled with solitude and temptation, overcoming the allure of worldly comforts for spiritual enlightenment (Matthew 4:1-11). In a different time and place, but still a journey of self-discovery and introspection. Similarly, the prophet Elijah, in a moment of vulnerability and isolation, found himself on Mount Horeb, where he experienced the presence of God amidst a storm, an earthquake, and a fire. Yet, it was in the gentle whisper of the Lord that he found solace and clarity (1 Kings 19:1-18).
These experiences echoes the sentiment that real character development often happens in the still, small moments of reflection. Both these biblical accounts resonate with Joshua’s unique approach to character building. They all emphasize the power of solitude, introspection, and challenging the limits of one’s character. You emerge stronger anytime you confront yourself, and become better equipped to face life’s challenges. Would you ever consider being alone with your thoughts for four days like Anthony Joshua? What about 40 days like our Lord Jesus? Joshua’s unorthodox path to character development sheds light on the profound lengths individuals are willing to go in the pursuit of self-improvement and spiritual growth.