As a single-again, one of my greatest struggles has been being a-l-o-n-e. In Christ, are we ever truly alone? There are moments that I do not “feel” God’s presence beside me. There are many sayings and stories that speak eloquently of Jesus walking beside us on our journey. The bible clearly says in Psalm 23, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” And several verses before, the psalmist says, “He leadeth me beside the still waters.” So why is it in the moments of my daily life that I do not “feel” Him beside me or leading me? Does one really have to feel it to know it? I think not!
How can I be so sure, you ask? My feelings have often misled me. They have often taken me down a path that I refer to as ‘Narrow Despair.’ Narrow, because it is self-centered and Despair, because it refuses to see the hope within. The feelings that well up from deep within my soul, I consider to be old companions. One’s that walked with me before I knew Christ. If I were to give names to these so-called companions (my feelings) as Hannah Hurnard did in “Hinds Feet in High Places,” they might be called “Hopeless” and “Despair.” She called them “Sorrow” and “Suffering.” I love this allegory because Miss Hurnard paints the picture of our relationship with the Lord so beautifully with words. The pictures paint the yearning of His children, the journeys we take in our lives from the valleys to the mountain tops and everything in between.
I am maturing in my walk with Christ because I do not get too far down this path before I realize the destructive direction I am heading. I remember just a few weeks ago when these feelings and thoughts started coming into my mind that I looked up. I raised my eyes to the sky. And I wasn’t really aware of the significance of that simple act until now. I remember waking up that morning with an overwhelming feeling of “another lonely day ahead!” My shoulders were low; I was not walking with purpose but dread. It was on the way out to the car that I looked up. And with tears welling up, said to the sky, to the Lord, whose eyes were on me, “Ok God, you and me today.” I got into my car and drove into the day. The day was not spectacular nor was it a disaster. By the time I had gotten into bed that evening, I had forgotten all about the feelings of the morning.
These past few weeks I have been asking God for some direction with
- Things that are hindering me from moving forward in my life, to stop standing still
- Discovering His desires for my life, to replace some of these currently in my heart that keep me from focusing on Him
- How to connect with others again, investing in interpersonal relationships (these can be messy when you have been hurt or rejected)
As I was thinking of these things today I thought back to the day that I raised my eyes and voice to God. I looked up because after being a Christian for 17 years I did not even hesitate to wonder where He was. I just knew. It was instinctive and that instinct took over. As a friend reminded me, just last night at bible study, sometimes our hearts do not know what our head knows to be true. I believe the bridge between the two is blocked because of the deceiving thoughts that slip in and out of my mind so easily. If I listen to them, they set me up for failure, for hopelessness and for despair.
I have to guard my mind and my heart by not allowing those thoughts to take hold. They get louder and more forceful.
“When is this ever going to end?”
“Why doesn’t anyone understand?”
“This is so hard; I can’t go on like this!”
“If he/she would have only done…..!”
“Why didn’t they accept me?”
“Will I ever know joy again?”
“It is all his/her fault, they ruined my life!”
“God, where are you?”
And on and on it goes….what I have discovered is that if I allow myself to follow these thoughts down a path, over time things can build up into anger and bitterness towards my life and others. That’s when I find that I am isolated and lonely. Now here is the lesson, when I come to this realization, I have two choices:
- To ignore the fact that I heading down a sinful path that will result in destruction of relationships and separation from God
- To turn back towards freedom by replacing those thoughts with scripture (truth) and walking in them, eventually experiencing, once again, the joy and peace of fellowship with God and others
Freedom only comes by hearing the truth and doing the truth. We have to choose freedom. Read these words spoken by our Lord in the Gospel of John. Verse 8:31-32 “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make your free.” God planned it that way and His son spoke it. “Abide in His word, you will know the truth, the truth will make you free.” That sounds pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? For the record, it has taken years to get that truth to become reality to me. In fact it is so real that now it is “instinct.”
“Why me?” without hesitation becomes Why not me?” Who am I that I should never experience one bad thing in my life? My walk with the Lord is based on a deep faith and trust in God. When I am walking in the spirit the question becomes even more in depth, “God, what is it you want me do with this thing you have allowed into my life?”
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6,
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Each thought that comes into my mind that sets itself up against the truth of God’s word becomes the very weapon the enemy wields to destroy me from within. You ever hear the saying ‘We are our own worst enemy’? Sometimes we give Satan far too much credit. Bottom line, although we may not choose the things that go on around us or the situations God allows into our lives, we can choose what companions we walk with by choosing to replace our thoughts with God truth. We can choose the paths we walk down.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”