Loneliness (Lent #11)

“Lone like the Tishbite, as the Baptist bold,
Cast in a rare and apostolic mould.”

“And Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1, NIV)

As I mentioned on the fourth day, wilderness or desert, in the Old and New Testaments, does not primarily signify a certain type of climate or wildlife. Of course we think of sand dunes stretching to the horizon, but most of the Middle East doesn’t look like that. Desert in Scripture means deserted—uninhabited, or desolate. Jesus’ call into the desert was a call to loneliness.

There may come a point in your walk with God when only you can choose to continue. Your parents will not be there to prod you forward; maybe no one will offer you a ride to church; sometimes even the person who led you to Christ will walk away from the church, or worse, take others with her or him. You must be ready to stand on what Christ has done in your life.

There is an inevitable loneliness that comes in walking with God. Sometimes even God’s voice is silent, where you felt that he spoke so clearly when you were newly born again. Then God’s voice is a distant whisper and you see the devil face to face. That is when God’s word must rise to the top of our mind, strengthening us to resist the devil.

Jesus came to his own, and his own did not receive him. He experienced the loneliness of a saint, misunderstood, with his eyes far above the rest of the world. But there is another loneliness that belongs to every man who ever lived. There is the loneliness of a world that has rejected a loving and personal God. We were made to know him, and while we live on earth, there is a crushing loneliness that longs for what Adam had before the Fall. We long to be back in the Garden, “walking in the cool of the day” with God. Jesus experienced this loneliness, not only as the Bearer of our sin, but because he entered into our world and among us.

In your life, it may not be the loneliness of walking with God—it may just be loneliness, undefined. Will you accept it as the one thing capable of driving you back to the Father? When the inner ache is crushing, will you turn to God and away from despair?

“How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.”

My friend Eli calls loneliness “the winepress.” You have to crush a grape to produce wine, but it cannot be merely crushed with power—there must be pressure, but it must be a controlled pressure. Crush it too hard, and you release undesirable compounds from the seed in the grape.

God does not want to crush us, but he does allow pressure in our lives. It is a controlled pressure, designed to release the best in you. Will you let it?

Father, show me how to let my loneliness drive me to you like a bird to its nest. May you be my home when no one else and nothing else can satisfy.

Amen.

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