Loneliness was sad. He was not allowed in Paradise Garden. It was the most  beautiful place ever. But was he able to even catch a glimpse of this lush and pure and innocent natural resort that was almost Heaven on earth? No. Loneliness had to stay in his cave. Day after day after day he would dream of what it might be like if he could only get past those, those things that were guarding the entrance to the garden. Oh, he had tried sneaking in before, but the mysterious winged guards, who had eyesight more keen than that of an eagle, made it perfectly clear that he was not welcome and there was no dwelling place for him in the garden.  You see, it wasn’t as much the garden, as breath taking as it must have been, that he longed to see, as it was to be part of a family and what better  place to start than with the perfect couple that lived in the garden. One of the most intriguing things about the couple was there close and flawless relationship with their Father.

Then one day the unimaginable happened. The perfect couple was put out of Paradise Garden, because of something …. something they did,  and they would never, ever be allowed to return. As the man and woman ran in shame from the garden, they passed directly in front of isolation cave, which happened to be the home of loneliness. At that moment it became most obvious to loneliness that he now had an open invitation to be a part of this family. With one instantaneous, giant leap he landed soundly in the arms of the fleeing couple. The man and woman felt pain moving through their chests, for they had never experienced this emotion before. As they ran further and further from the garden, with every step, loneliness could feel the beating of their hearts. He said to himself,”This is where I want to spend all my days on earth. Near the heart.  He would dwell with the man and with the woman as long as  they should live and when they, in time, had children, loneliness would spend a lifetime with them as well. Loneliness was happy……

When was last time someone asked you how you were doing and you replied,” I’m feeling rather lonely and blue today?” Chances are, you haven’t responded with those words very often, if ever. It’s not usually something we talk about, but yet, we all know what loneliness feels like don’t we? “Lonely”, can refer to the state of being alone, with no one else around. It can also refer to a solitary place, such as where Jesus withdrew to in Mark, ch. 1 and in Luke ,ch. 5. We might visit a lonely island and then we may, from time to time, find ourselves driving on a lonely stretch of highway or walking down a lonely path. Each of these descriptive phrases can also be used at times in illustrating a particular period of our lives. But most often when we feel lonely it is because we miss someone we once knew or we long to be near someone we love. Or maybe when we are waiting for someone we haven’t met yet to come into our life. Loneliness is there when we have to go through something in life alone. It’s there when we can’t see the people we used to see or go to places we once went. It’s hard to explain that tearing apart of your heart, but yet, it’s a real hurt that flows from our chest throughout our whole body, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Loneliness is a peculiar emotion, isn’t it? We can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. We can be in a sanctuary, worshiping the Lord with other believers when even there the sensation of loneliness can flood through us. Sometimes we may not even be aware that it has crept in and then suddenly,  we are singing a song or reading scripture or maybe standing beside a friend who turns and gives us a hug and we realize the Lord has just meet a need in our life. He has filled the cave where loneliness lives, with His presence, His truth, His light or with the love of someone who cares about us.  But it is so hard to put our finger on it. We can’t explain it. Where does it come from? Why is it there? It is an emotion that is elusive. We can’t say to it, “Go away!” You can try to ignore it or deny it, without success. No, loneliness has to be replaced by something that you long for deep down inside.

….. Loneliness stayed close to the heart of his new family and as they multiplied, he did the same. It was really quite remarkable how he adapted to every culture and people group on earth. And since no one could go back into Paradise Garden, everyone was fair game for loneliness. Oddly, he noticed, the longer time went on and the more people filled their lives with activities and things, the more room they had for him. This was quite puzzling ….

Do you think Loneliness has made a fairly accurate observation of us all? It is an interesting point he has brought up, huh?

We can’t see loneliness, but we see his reflection everyday. We see it in the eyes of the woman behind the counter. In the spirit of the child who doesn’t fit in at school. In the face of a mother as she watches her young child walk through the doors and disappear on the first day of school. We hear it in the voice of the man and the woman in prison. You may see the shadow of loneliness in the waitress, or your co worker, or your neighbor, or your boss. I have heard the sound of loneliness in a customer’s voice, who has recently lost her husband. It is obvious in the person who has lived alone for years. You can feel it in the college student, away from home for the first time and it is there in the father, giving away his daughter in marriage.

Tom was a friend of mine who lived alone in the later years of his life. I knew Tom for about thirty years. As time passed, due to brain tumors and surgeries, he had to put a great deal of thought into what he wanted to say, before he spoke.  His glasses were thick and his speech was slow. To the person who didn’t take the time to listen to Tom, they may have thought that he didn’t have much to offer. I found that because of the cautiousness in which Tom spoke, if I would be still and listen, what he had to say was quite insightful. Tom was very faithful in church attendance and involvement. He was in Sunday School and worship service every week. He would make all the fellowship meetings and was at choir rehearsal every Wednesday night and sang with the choir every Sunday morning. Tom didn’t sing on pitch, but he was always welcome in the choir. One night after choir practice, Tom and I were talking in the parking lot. He said, “Bob, I live a lonely life. But, when I sing with the choir, I don’t feel lonely. In the choir we are all a part of something bigger than any one of us. When I start feeling down, I use that as a reminder to spend time with my Lord, praying, reading my Bible or just listening for His voice. ” Tom went on to say that he thought Jesus allowed us to be lonely in this life so that we don’t forget how much we need Him. The last time I saw Tom, he was lying on a hospital bed that had been set up the middle of his living room.

At a Christmas party a few years ago, There were two teenagers who had been born with only a small percentage of their hearing. As we drove away, my wife, Becky, commented that it must be lonely, not being able to hear what people are saying around you or what they are laughing about.

I prayed with a woman once who struggled with memories from her past. She said it was so lonely not being able to talk about it with anyone. She longed for someone, who understood,  to come along side her.

I knew a man who, from childhood, had very low self esteem. Due to that he endured periods of incredible loneliness. He lived in denial that he had a problem.

We can’t escape loneliness. It is part of the world we live in.  It is common to think that no one understands what we are going through. Many times that is true. However, there is one who always understands. He has experienced more loneliness and hurt and temptation than we will ever know. He is working all things together to give us victory over all this stuff that can drag us down. He is the Lord, Jesus Christ, Our Savior and our God. If you are one who loves Him, then He is constantly doing this for you. Romans 8:28 is clear. If you are one who loves God, then you have been called according to His purpose and He is constantly working for good in your life. Even though we can’t escape it as long as we live on this earth, do you think God wants us to allow loneliness to have power over us? No He doesn’t! In John 10:10, Jesus said that he had come so that we may have life and life abundant or to the fullest. The Lord never will force Himself upon us nor will He force us to take what he has to offer us. But He is always there for us and what He has to offer us is always there for us to accept as well.

Of course, the Lord brings many people across our pathway to minimize the lonely feelings we encounter. But, there will always be a certain emptiness inside that can only be filled by the physical presence of God. Much like the perfect couple experienced with the Father while they lived in Paradise Garden, before the fall. Remarkably, through the Holy Spirit  we can know His presence here on earth. One day, we will no longer even know the meaning of the word, lonely, but until then God has left us a wonderful fruit to enjoy. We read about it in Galatians chapter five. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Ironically, if we give away this fruit to others, we will find for ourselves, whatever it is that our soul is longing for.

At times it may be tempting to crawl back in the cave where loneliness and all his cousins dwell, come out every now and then, smile and wave and then go back in. But that’s not the abundant life that our Lord desires for us. He died and was raised to life again so that we may know victory.

My prayer for you, is that if you have one or more of these dark caves in your life, that you will invite and allow God to transform them into lush orchards, overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit.

…… Down through the ages, Loneliness discovered that when someone invited Jesus to come and live in them, it didn’t leave a lot of room for him to roam. Then when that person died and went to Heaven, he had to go back into his cave. So, Loneliness had traveled 180 degrees. Once again he found that he was not allowed in Paradise.

OOOH! Doesn’t that fruit taste good! Have fun sharing it!

Bob

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