These past few weeks have been much more difficult than I had anticipated. OneLife has been over for around three weeks, and for the past two, I’ve been wrestling with a near overwhelming sense of loneliness. I spent much of that time alone, and while that definitely had something to do with the loneliness I had been feeling, there was a sneaking suspicion that something more was going on behind all of it. After some praying, and some reading, I realized what that something more was.
Since I’ve been home, while I’ve had exceeding amounts of free time, I got started on my slowly growing reading list. I decided that I wanted to reread one of the books that we’d gotten from OneLife that I hadn’t finished: “Reading The Bible with Heart and Mind” by Tremper Longman. I had expected to learn a lot from this book about reading the Bible, but did not expect to be convicted in the way that I was.
I was reading the other night in a chapter that discussed the hurriedness of our world, and the need to take time to slow down and contemplate God’s Word. Tremper Used a quote from Henri Nouwen that said;
“The Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects and cherishes it as a precious gift. Sometimes it seems as if we do everything possible to avoid the painful confrontation with our basic human loneliness, and allow ourselves to be trapped by false gods promising immediate satisfaction and quick relief. Our loneliness reveals to us an inner emptiness that can be destructive when misunderstood, but filled with promise for him who can tolerate its sweet pain.”
As I was processing what that meant, it occurred to me that over the past two weeks, I had done nothing but try to fill my schedule with whatever I could. I saw empty space in my day, and I just wanted to fill it. I hadn’t taken the time to recognize my loneliness for what it was, and although I had been in the word every morning, something in me was opposed to the idea of simply being still with the Lord. I resolved to change that.
I realized over the next few days that the loneliness I was feeling pointed out that my heart was calling out for something. That something was a satisfaction that does not come from spending time with people, or spending time alone, but from the Lord. That feeling was an indicator to a deeper longing for Jesus, and it was a call to be still and face true reality.
In the practice of being still, we come up against our desire to control our lives. In our stillness, in the practice of slowing down, we realize that despite our lack of input, the world around us continues on. God doesn’t need us to be busy all the time, and there are times in our lives when He will have us in lonely seasons. I think of all the different Biblical characters that God led into the wilderness alone; Jesus himself, Elijah, Moses, and several others. Most of them were alone for much more than two weeks, and the Lord used those times to shape them into the people that He intended to use to accomplish His plan. God can and does sustain us even in these times. He uses them to draw us into Himself, and make us aware of our need for Him.
To be lonely is to be human. It is to recognize that there is an emptiness in us that only the Lord can fill. No amount of good things in this world would ever be enough to fulfill our longing for Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and may you recognize your longings for what they are as He continues to draw you to Himself.