Monday, January 30, 2017

BLUE, GOD IS WITH YOU

Dag Hammarskjold said, “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”[1]


Could it be that loneliness becomes God’s workshop in our life? In the apparent emptiness we look for deeper substance and meaning.

When we recognize the supreme value of having a relationship with God, we are better able to thrive through changing relationships and environments.  Part of loneliness is rooted in discontent.  When we are not happy with what we have, our negative emotions are amplified.


Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."


Sometimes loneliness comes from the amount of change that we experience.  Everyone and everything around is in transition and we find ourselves longing for the familiar.

A lonely heart is an open door for God’s Spirit. You are invited to leave the orphanage and move into God’s house. If you are willing to trust God’s love, you will find your place at this new family table.


John 14:
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 


If God is with you, who can be against you?




[1] Jerry Carrier, Hard Right Turn: The History and the Assassination of the American Left, Algora Publishing, p.162

Friday, January 27, 2017

BLUE, BE HONEST AND TRUE

Truth can be painful because it proclaims life’s situations as they are, and not as we hoped they would have been.  An important step out of loneliness is to be honest with God and with others.  If you are not being honest with yourself, there’s no way for you to be honest with God.

Sometimes we want to minimize our problems or live in denial.  We may be too proud to admit that we have a problem. 

There are many people who hide behind service to others.  They will do things for all kinds of people, but leave their own needs unmet.  Perhaps you find it harder to pray for yourself.  This is a false belief that it is wrong to ask God or anyone else to take care of you.  This lack of self-love will lead to isolation and self-loathing.

God will never belittle you for being honest with Him about your deep inner feelings.  He really does love and care for you.


1 Peter 5:7
“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”


God’s ability to work in our lives is dependent upon our openness to Him and allowing Him to absorb our deep inner hurt.  His power to heal our fears and pains deepens with our honesty.  He will not take away the anxieties that we keep from Him.

Many do not make themselves vulnerable to God.  They hold back in fear.  They think they are being childish, rude or selfish if they bring their complaints to God.  It’s as if we want to keep our relationship with God on a professional, adult level.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out too well.  We need to let God see the hurt and immaturity that grips us.


1 Peter 1:13
“Prepare your mind for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”


People of fate believe that they are lonely because it is meant to be, but people of faith believe differently.  They do not take loneliness sitting down.  People with faith cry out to God and look for an answer that will help them break free of their cycle of frustration.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BLUE, TAKE YOUR CUE

Time for that fearless, emotional inventory… If you are blue, take your cue! 

While life circumstances can contribute to one’s feelings of disconnect, circumstance alone cannot be always blamed. Sometimes we have no easy explanation for our emptiness and start to feel guilty for not having a good reason to feel this way.

Charlotte Brontë who wrote Jane Eyre said, “The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.”

Here is a list of common feelings and actions that lonely people get caught up in. 

  • Useless, feeling you have nothing to offer
  • Cynically lashing out against people who appear successful
  • Withdrawal into yourself to avoid conflict with others
  • Exaggerated self-pity
  • Fear of trying new social adventures

Listen to the ancient blues writer who stopped going to church.


Psalms 42:
 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long,  "Where is your God?"
 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I use to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.


The writer is lonely and depressed because of people who scoffed and misunderstood him.  He talks about the emotional fulfillment he used to have with the crowd at church, but now he’s not going.  There are many who end up this way.  But the writer does not stay away for long.

Verse five shows his response.  He realizes that is responsible for his own feelings and tells himself to put his hope in God.  He decides to offer God praise in spite of his downcast, disturbing emotions.  He takes his cue from his feelings and decides that God must have the answer he is looking for.

Sometimes people need a counsellor, pastor or good friend to help them get to this point. 

But, unless you can stop in the middle of your personal agony and recognize the tailspin you are in, no amount of counselling will help.  You have to own your feelings and decide to take steps to move ahead. Take your cue—you can confront the loneliness and strengthen healthy connections.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

LONELY AND BLUE

We expect that Christmas and New Year celebrations will be times of gathering with our closest family and friends. It’s also a time of increased drinking and drugging; some to add to the celebration and some to numb the aching effects of loneliness.

At Nilde’s funeral on December 30th, I had a conversation with one of the funeral directors and commented on how it seems to me that there are more deaths at this time of year, especially around the holidays. His eyes widened and he replied,  “Absolutely! This is the busiest time of year for us. In the summer, we have times when there might only be one funeral in a week. This time of year we have back to back funerals.”

How ironic and subtle that our celebrations remind many of their acute loneliness.

In ‘The Great Gatsby’ author F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the emptiness of materialism in the Roaring Twenties. The narrator Nick Carraway said, “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”[1]

If you find yourself lonely and unsure, you are not really alone. Other loners are also longing for community and a close friend. God inhabits lonely places and seeks out every lost sheep.

In the life of Jesus, we see the bipolar nature of community. There is the needy crowd and the retreat to lonely places. Like Jesus, we can turn lonely places into venues for positive change.


Luke 5:
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.


Let’s look at directions for the lonely that rhyme with ‘blue’.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

REMEMBERING NILDE



Revelation 21:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 


In the description of the new Heaven and the new Earth, God loudly says, ‘I make everything new’. The old earth that we live on will be reformed and restored to brand new condition.

Isn’t it interesting how you can look at someone’s baby picture and still recognize him or her? They may be 68 years old but something of their expression and personality is still here.

The same is true of children. When I met with Jessica and James to plan their mother's funeral, I saw physical and personality reminders of their mother Nilde. What a powerful thing that our generations bear a resemblance to that which came before.

It is a fact of cellular life that cells divide and are recreated continuously. Your physical condition has changed continuously through life as you age. Most of your parts have been replaced but your DNA and your spirit have remained constant. There is something about you that is made to remain through every change.

The early church writer Paul talked about the process of change and constancy when he wrote these words.


1 Corinthians 13:
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


As the writer looked at the future, he compared seeing a reflection to actually being face to face. You may see someone’s reflection in the mirror but it lacks the intimacy and presence of turning to actually face the person.

John’s vision of the new Heaven and the new Earth is like a mirror reflection for us to stare at. In the reality that the reflection reveals, the truth of who God is and who we are will be fully experienced.

By faith, Nilde looked to Jesus. She saw his reflection and felt his presence throughout her life. And now, she has turned to encounter Jesus face to face.

Her time in front of life’s mirror has been preparing herself as a Bride getting ready to meet the Groom. The best of what she has done has prepared her to finally be with Jesus.

When we look into the mirror at ourselves, what do we see?


James 1:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.


 Jesus came to teach us how to love. In loving God and loving one another we prepare ourselves to face the God of love.
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