Today, I feel lonely. I feel discouraged and weary in the soul. Those three elements can weigh down a heart more than any physical ailment or tragedy can bring. Combine the three with a physical ailment and it’s as if death has come early. I don’t think any person is created to do life alone. Christian or not. We’re all wired to have community. As believers, we’re saved to join a community. Lone Ranger Christian isn’t part of God’s plan…or is it?
The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone.
The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man [or woman] who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.
He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”- A.Z. Tozer (The Loneliness of the Christian)
Tozer said it right.
But it seems very inevitable for those who are in ministry. There always comes these moments where the soul feel drained or empty from pouring one’s heart out doesn’t it? Once summer passes, you gear up for the busy & distracting season of Fall & Winter. The signs are clear right? Busyness, distractions of the consumer world, the me-me mentality, “others/church” are further pushed down the list of priority, serving the Church must reduce and I must increase… etc etc. Typical signs of the worldly influence this time of the season. Been feeling like I’m running hard. Hard for the Church, hard for discipleship and training, hard for the CG ladies to abide in Christ in Word and Prayer, hard to be available in pouring out myself to others for the sake of the Kingdom..but come 2-3 miles down, I look around and I feel as if nobody is running along side with me.
“Go a few more miles Judy, somebody will come along side with encouragement and reminders.”
You pour out confessions and share struggles but any morsel of encouragement is outweighed by the needs of the body, the news of defeated lives, complaints of how horrible and hard life is, no joy, no hunger, no strength to fight in those around you. The need in the body is overwhelming and great. I start looking around and wondering, “where are the other mature believers God? Where is the ‘when one body part hurts the rest hurt?”
Those who care would ask, “How is your time in the Word?” I’d say, “Consistent and good. He’s speaking a new word in me everyday. I’m wrestling with a lot of things He’s telling me recently about ministry and my approach to it.” But still…
I’ve been asking myself, “Judy, what is it that is bringing you down? What is it that you’re hungry for?”
I’m hungry to see God’s people start living the life they were saved to live. For somebody to say, “I experienced Christ today and it was amazing!!”
Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer as it were caught up to the third heavens and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. “God will not suffer you to lose anything by it,” he told them. “You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you.” This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful “adjustment” to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.