Right now the whole world is waking up around me and my doctor has advised me to lay low for a little while longer. He has recommended me not to go to restaurants, not to go to movies nor even (perhaps) back to church until there is a vaccine. Now before you balk, let me tell you why. I am a very vulnerable person. I have lung issues and heart issues. Not to mention the fact that this is a virus that clots the blood and I have had, in the past, blood clots in my lungs. This all makes me sound very unhealthy but I am not – the meds are managing my health and I am healthy now. However, getting something as serious as COVID for me could be life threatening. So I am listening to my doctor – eyes wide open, head nodding – not afraid but confident in my future.
So I look around me and I see everyone opening their doors, having parties, going out like before for the most part. And I am here and I am perhaps experiencing the most lonely time in my life. I have dreams of going to a party where everyone is laughing and hanging out and I am alone at a table with no one to talk to. It feels surreal – like I am in a bubble while the world goes on around me. I remember when I was so insanely busy a year ago, and I sat down and I said, “God I understand the phrase stop the world so I can get off.” I so desperately needed to get off of my insane race at the moment. Last year, I craved a season like I am living in right now – right this very moment where there is no expectation; no where I am supposed to be; no one I am supposed to meet; no deadline to make. I was feeling burn out fast approach me and I didn’t know what to do but to duck.
But here I am. The world has stopped and I got off. But now, everyone else got back on – except me. And I feel like I was off for a long enough time. And because friendships fill me up, it feels like there is a world that is passing me by. It feels like there are friendships that will forget about me; whole people groups that won’t even remember that I exist. It’s like being dead while I am still alive; like I am paralyzed in my own world – completely aware of what is going on around me but absolutely helpless to join in.
When I am alone, sometimes, I get too inside my own head and I start to obsess and worry and think about things that I have no jurisdiction over or way of figuring it out. And then I reach an impasse of depression and boredom. It’s not always good for me to find myself there – that’s why I need friends around me. That’s why I need people and laughter and things to do. I am wired for that – people and out there-ness.
And then the Lord spoke very clearly to my soul. He said, “You can keep grieving and crying and lamenting this life you live right now, or you can roll up your sleeves and make the most of it.” He wasn’t saying it in a condescending way. He wasn’t telling me to stuff my feelings down into my shoes or that they weren’t important. He was giving me a choice. He was holding out a better way.
Sometimes when God pulls you away to a time of alone-ness it isn’t so that you can be lonely or miserable. It’s to bring you to a place of awareness. It’s to bring you to a higher place. It is often a place of breakthrough or of freedom. I need to reach that place. I need to understand what God is doing in my life and heart in this season and to embrace it. I shouldn’t balk at it. I shouldn’t scream at it. I shouldn’t disgrace it. I need to embrace it. I need to wrap my arms around it even if it’s painful and I don’t understand it. I need to ask God to give me understanding; to help me to make the most of this alone time.
When Jesus pulled away for 40 days and 40 nights what did his heavenly father do in his spirit? Could it be that that time away was why he was able to withstand the temptation that then came his way? Did this need to happen for his earthly ministry to begin – lame walking, the blind seeing and miracles that littered his path?
What about Noah who was called away to build an ark? Everyone else went home and relaxed in the evening or did whatever they did. Noah remained in solitude because God had called him to build an ark. Everyone must have thought he was crazy. I wonder how he felt? What went through his mind as the world went on without him? Yet he did it. He saved his life and that of his family. He rescued the whole animal kingdom. All this would not have been able to be possible if Noah had refused to come away alone with God – if he had failed to follow the instructions he was given to build the ark.
I am reminded of Daniel in the Bible. Because of the influence of some jealous colleagues, king Darius made a decree – no one was to pray to anyone but the king for thirty days. Praying to God was suddenly not allowed. Yet, Daniel did as he always did. He prayed – three times a day, every day. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t cower. He brazenly flung open the window and prayed for everyone to see. Was he the only one that prayed while the whole world forgot about God? And what were the consequences? He ended up in the lion’s den. But what a story to tell his friends – the warm breath of a lion passing over his face. The fiery eyes daring him to run. The hungry pride sized him up waiting for him to fall – waiting to strip the flesh off of his puny frame. Daniel paced the chamber, with the lions but they could not touch him. Somehow God had miraculously rescued him – much to the lions dismay. This would have changed Daniel’s whole outlook on life. He would emerge from the Lion’s den with a greater confidence, a stronger resolve, and calm determination. He would walk differently from those who had not survived his ordeal.
Much happens when you surrender to being alone with God – whether it is by your doing or an act out of your control. There are treasures; there are breakthroughs; there are promises that the Lord wants to place in your heart.
Don’t mock the days that God draws you to himself. Don’t push against them. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Roll up your sleeves and ask him what he wants to do in your life in this season – then run after it with everything that you have.
That’s what I am going to do. How about you?