We are going through an interesting sermon series in church. It has to do with the “broken places” of the world and also includes a mandate to choose one person we will pray for who is a non-believer and how we may impact that person for Christ. Janet and I have both thought of someone we wish that we could impact in such as way as to be attracted to Jesus and surrender their life to Christ. But this weekend’s service was on the broken place of isolation – people separated from each other and from God. You could also think of it as loneliness, desolation or even solitude.
Clearly, since both Janet and I are believers, it is difficult to imagine ourselves separated from God – in fact, I can’t imagine anything more distasteful to me than to think that I would have to go through life without a belief in God. But I have found the sermon series very interesting – and I have wondered what it would be like to spend several days in solitude.
This week-end has been the perfect time to “practice” solitude. You see, I am not one who likes being alone and since Janet and I spend most of our time together, neither one of us ever spends very much time by ourselves. So, when Janet and her sisters planned a gathering in Williamsburg this week-end, it seemed like the perfect time to see how I would function by myself.
It hasn’t been a perfect exercise as Andrew decided to join me for church and it was good to see him. But other than that, I have been alone. That’s very unusual for me. You see, before Janet and I got married, I never lived on my own. And since I commuted to the University of Illinois in Chicago, I never rented an apartment or had to fend for myself.
In a way, that was a part of life that I missed. Thankfully, all three of our children have lived on their own at one time or another, as did Janet when she first attended university. So sometimes, when Janet is out of town, I practice solitude. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often but it is a good reminder of what it is like to be alone – recognizing that there are many people in the world who don’t have friendships or people to love them well.
That’s not the case with me. I know that I am loved and an important part of the lives of other family members, as well as friends. But since we have our dog, Hank, who hasn’t been himself the last several days, I have spent quite a bit of time with him. I guess you could say that I didn’t want him to have to be alone, especially because I think he misses Janet and has refused most of his food during the week-end. We did go on a 2 mile walk and by the time we walked this afternoon, I was ready to get out of the house. We had a great time and didn’t run into another soul the entire time.
Interestingly, the kids usually call me several times a day when Janet is out of town. They know that I am not the kind of guy who likes to stay home and entertain myself. But with Hank feeling the way he does, I just didn’t want to leave him. However, I haven’t heard from our daughters this week-end (I know they are both busy) and I could have picked up the phone if I was really desperate. And as I already said, Andrew and I went to church so I spent some time with him.
I have occupied myself by reading, watching television and working for a little while out in the yard getting ready for winter. Aside from that, I spent almost 5 hours yesterday making beef jerky downstairs for the first time this season. While elements of my experience have been refreshing, I certainly miss Janet and can’t wait for her to return home. This has been a good reminder of how wonderful my life is and how fortunate Janet and I are to have each other. It just doesn’t get any better…
Our verse for this evening speaks to the issue of how the members of the Acts 2 church shared everything and spent their time together – not in isolation or solitude, but as a body of people going through life together. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Notice how many things they did together? My encouragement tonight is that God wants us to live similarly – living together and taking care of others. My prayer is that we will be on the look-out for those people who live in isolation or desolation and that we may be the means through which they find community and life devoid of loneliness – hopefully, an eternal life with Christ. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…