What does this mean to you? It’s something that’s been on my mind lately and honestly, in my heart for the majority of my life, I think. I regularly have opportunities to experience this loneliness, it seems. If you are a sold-out follower of Christ our Lord and King, you have likely experienced this loneliness in your life too. Let me share with you today why this is not necessarily a bad thing and hopefully offer you some encouragement. This is actually par for the course in this life we live by faith in the One Who gave His life for us.
Yesterday morning I was really thinking and praying to the Lord about what He would have me share with all of you, and I had two different messages delivered to me that were saying the same thing. This is how God often works with me, giving me confirmation of what He’s trying to tell me. So the first message I got and shared (on Instagram) was, “Sometimes God puts you in places alone because He needs you to realize you don’t need anyone but Him.” This has been the case so many times in my life I can’t even count anymore. He always seems to pull me away from the crowd (or even away from one) in order to really draw nearer unto Him. I can’t hear His voice as well when I’m too absorbed with those around me. He’s cut people out of my life many times who were draining my time and walk with Him. Thank You, Lord, that You know what I need better than I do.
The second message came in an encouraging email from a new friend and brother in Christ. He wrote to Will and me and sent us an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer–Man, the Dwelling Place of God, titled “The Saint Must Walk Alone.” I am going to share a large portion here because it is all so good and if anyone else is struggling with feeling alone in their faith walk, my prayer is that this would speak to your heart, too. It’s about us searching for fellowship and is a great word to us all–fellowship with brothers and sisters is important, but finding those who are on the same narrow path is absolutely a rarity and this search can also be a distraction to our true purpose and ultimate design–to fellowship wholeheartedly with our Father God and depend on Him to meet our every need.
This excerpt began by talking about many biblical saints and even Jesus Himself and how their lives were all characterized by a common theme-loneliness. They were alone in the world but never in their hearts or on their faith journey. Let’s read together what I’ve highlighted here: “Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. ‘They all forsook him, and fled.’ The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. 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 who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord’s house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, “He has seen a vision.” The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. 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 overserious, 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. ‘When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.’ His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life’s summum bonum. 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.“
We have personally experienced many hurts and disappointments in our journey with the Lord from His professing people. I’m sure we have hurt and disappointed others, too. It’s part of our condition here in a fallen world, I suppose. It shouldn’t be this way and we do work hard to love others well and give of ourselves in a way that we have honestly yet to receive in return, where heart and soul and all that we are and can be is wrapped up in loving our Jesus and making Him known to the world around us. We know that we are strange. We know that we are pilgrims in a foreign land. We take Scripture very seriously and we can’t see how anyone who claims Christ as their Lord and Savior could live any other way. This doesn’t mean that we are pious or self-righteous. By no means! We simply realize our GREAT need for and dependence on the One Who’s saved our life and set us free. There’s no going back for us. We want to invite others on the journey with us but few want to truly step onto the narrow path and stay there, moving forward with eyes set like flint on the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We know that in this life, we will likely continue to walk this road alone. And we’re working on getting to a place that we’re okay with that. I’d rather walk alone than in anything superficial, surface level, or with anyone who thinks my God is worth less than giving their all to, in every way. I don’t have time for this anymore.
So this post is really for me, I guess. I’m speaking to my own heart and reminding myself that Christ is all I need. He is my absolute very Best Friend, now and forever. And no one can take that away from me. He will NEVER leave me, forsake me, or abandon me, and He accepts me with all my flaws and even covers over them with His beautiful, abundant love and mercy and grace. He is all I need. He is all you need. I pray you find your purpose and fulfillment in Him and that He meets your every need. If you are lonely today, remember that in Him, you are never alone. Run to the Father today.