Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Other Side of Loneliness

This year I have begun to reread the classic work of daily devotions by Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for his Highest.” Today’s devotion was on being alone with God. He writes:

“When God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak, or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted affection, by a broken friendship, or by a new friendship - when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are dumbfounded, and cannot ask one question, then He begins to expound.” He continues “There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone.”

John was alone when he received the book of visions that we call The Revelation of John. God had to get John away from his church in Ephesus, away from his responsibilities as the last apostle. He had to get him away from his pastoral duties in order to speak this clearly to him. He had to uproot him from his home, friends and family, and bring him into exile on a tiny island in the Aegean. There imprisoned on Patmos, John was free from distractions, and then God spoke to him.

John had to be alone. Jesus had to be alone with his Father. He had to be alone for forty days before he began his public ministry, and then often retreated to “a lonely place” to be alone with God. How much more do we need time alone with God? Really alone … for days at a time. Regular times of spiritual retreat for silence and solitude. Time to be weaned from the gadgetry that connects us so tightly to each other and isolates us from God.

No cell phones or internet or Facebook friends to chatter endlessly about trivialities. No television or newspapers. Alone for more than a half hour of meditation. More than an hour of Bible reading and prayer. Alone long enough to be lonely – to experience the withdrawal symptoms of our addiction to noise and busyness. Alone long enough to regain our senses and begin to see and hear again. Then on the other side of loneliness we find solitude with God. And in that solitude communion - “alone with the alone.”

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