October 11, 2011

Spiritual Discipline XIX: Solitude or Being Isolated

Avoiding the Void of Being Alone

I honestly believe one of man or woman’s greatest fears is being alone. Most will not admit this, especially men because they are much too macho for their own good but why do we suppose drug use and alcohol abuse is so bad in singles circles? Substance abuse...an anesthetizer that helps quell the loneliness that sets in after prolonged isolation from others outside relationships or fellowship with other like-minded people. People were made in God’s image and as such are social or commuinal in their relationship needs. In the Godhead we see the Trinity. Health studies say the people that are happily married are less likely to suffer from coronary diseases and stress related chronic conditions. Why do we suppose this is? I believe it is because humans are meant to be with other humans and to subject one’s self to being alone for prolong periods forces the person into an uncomfortable situation that induces stress over the long haul. I used to avoid being alone except when meditating. I've begun to realize as have others that a person is never alone even in the absence of other people...they have the Lord. We are onl as alone as we allow ourselves to be. We are only alone if we chose to ignore the presence of the Lord that is as close or as far away as we want Him. God will rarely force Himself on someone that does not want Him. Your choice...

The Quiet Hours

The obvious things that surface in my mind when I am alone are my surroundings first. I look at the elements of Creation around me and ponder their complexity and wonder why they are there. This invariably leads my mind to thoughts of God. I think about my kids and my wife. I often will try to plan out things in my head. There are also things that show up in my head that I do not plan on thinking about and it is these things that I know are potentially from God direct. I of course discern the thoughts to make sure they are not rogue and potentially harmful. If I have ascertained they are not unbiblical or harmful I move forward with the logical train of thought that these new ideas present. These thoughts are usually non-linear do not follow the line of thought from before the time they popped into my head. They are a total mental non-sequiter.

Where Is The Mind When Alone?

If I am not thinking about things I am quite often reading or writing depending on which resource I have available to me. Sometimes it is the computer so I can type but most often it is reading because I have books laying everywhere, home, car, business bag, etc. Prayer during the day also surfaces sometimes but not as frequently as the other things. I also listen to sermons in alone time too.

Idle Mind or Empty Mind

The mind wanders if not anchored in God or things of importance. My fear is that I will be left with too much time on my hands and an idle mind is the Devil’s own. I try to keep my mind busy. In the past when it has gone idle it has drifted to things that are not of God. I begin to worry and follow things through to worst-case-scenarios that never happen and to worry and have anxiety like this is a sin.

Comfortablely Alone

I am most comfortable in my home near my library or at my desk. I am closest to my element. When I was younger I would’ve never acknowledged this as I would’ve felt to egg-headed but as I have aged I have found that studying God’s word and those things associated to it are where I find my most comfortable. I have volumes and volumes of Biblical commentaries (much to my wife’s dismay). I also have many Greek and Hebrew lexicons, dictionaries and other theologically based material. I can and often doe thorough academic studies based on my own library material.

Uncomfortably Alone

Surprisingly, the most uncomfortable place I have been is exactly where I believe God has been calling me. There are few places as humanly alone but divinely present as a pulpit. The gap between me and other people seems wider than the one between the pulpit and the first row of chairs or pews. Conversely, the gap between God and me never gets smaller than it does in that exact same place. The pulpit or podium where I deliver sermons is insanely uncomfortable for me and a human level but comforting from a spiritual. Until I settle into my pattern or speaking from my notes (which sometimes doesn’t happen and I struggle), my heart races and I am hard pressed to settle down. I feel the weight of the text press on me and I realize as I am speaking that I have become responsible for teaching all the people that are listening. It is a responsibility I take as serious as a heart attack. I believe God keeps me nervous and uncomfortable on purpose. If I ever get totally comfortable in front of a crowd when I am preaching to them…I have then stopped relying on God/the Holy Spirit to deliver the message whatever it is.

I guess some would ask. "If it makes you so uncomfortable, why do you do this to yourself?" Because I believe I have been called to. A calling and a career are two different things. A career I chose, a calling I was chosen for...and I have obeyed.

Sensing You're Not Alone When You Are Alone

When I am doing what I believe I have been called to do whether it be praying alone or preaching to a congregation, I know God presses in to assure what He wanted communicated gets across to His intended receiver. This means when I pray He gets His point across to me and when I preach He gets His point across to the body I am speaking to. The bulk of what I deliver comes from my notes which come from my study time. When I deliver the message I prepared it never quite comes verbatim from my notes because I dwell in certain places in the notes as I am convicted to do so to drive home points. The way it came out of my head writing is never the way it is delivered verbally

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