Where and when have you endured your loneliest times?
Are you a leader, a person who pioneers and passionately steps in faith to the plans God has for your life? Then, you’ve surely experienced times of loneliness. Perhaps, Jesus’ loneliest time was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He surely pondered his situation with heart wrenching thoughts like: really Father, is this the only way or where are my best friends when I need them most? Jesus felt the load of loneliness in doses greater than we can imagine as He prepared for His purpose – being the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. That’s why we sing, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know ; at the cross where I first saw the light; there is no greater love than this; up from the grave He arose; and what a friend we have in Jesus’ with deep love and appreciation for His commitment to His calling.
Jesus’ story in Luke 20 shows what true leaders do in times of trouble. He went to the Mount of Olives to pray. His disciples followed and heard his request that they pray so they would not enter temptation. The Bible says they were only a stone’s throw away from Jesus as He sweat drops of blood. He asked His Father to take the cup if it was His will, but made it clear it was not to be Jesus’ will but God’s will to be done. An angel came from heaven to strengthen Jesus. When he rose up from prayer, He found His disciples sleeping and told them to Rise Up and Pray! Praying in Gethsemane gave Jesus power for what He would soon face.
Gethsemane was also the place where Jesus was betrayed and arrested. His loyal disciple, who walked on water with Jesus and vowed never to betray Jesus, rose up to defend his best friend. Cutting off the ear of one of the guards brought a reaction from Jesus that got His followers attention and showed commitment in leadership. Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then, Jesus asked chief priests, leaders of the temple, and elders who went to Gethsemane with swords, if they came as robbers? He reminded them He was with them in the temple and they did not try to seize Him there. He told them it was their hour and the power of darkness. The stage was set for Jesus to face Herod, endure beatings beyond horrible, take the place of Barabbas, carry His cross to Calvary, hear the cheering crowds mock the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, watch His mother weep at His feet, and say, ‘it is finished’ and sacrifice His life so that you and I might be saved from our sins. Jesus understood commitment and sacrifice. He gave it all and gained it all back. He taught, by example, the importance of staying committed to our calling. Because Jesus completed His mission, He lives within our hearts and helps us face our Gethsemanes with gut-wrenching strength even in the loneliest of times.
Gethsemane can make people feel there is no way to win the battles that burden and belittle in seasons of feeling like the Lone Ranger. Leaders can feel left out, overlooked, misunderstood; yet, staying committed to the mission many would call ‘impossible’ makes one ‘the apple of God’s eye’! Gethsemane is the place where spiritual battles happen, loneliness looms like a heavy cloud, honesty is openly expressed, submission is necessary in order to survive, and strength is received to get us through the tough times and dark days. As the Eagles sing of no more cloudy days, so can leaders and followers who stay committed to Christ’s calling. What joy knowing one day we will celebrate eternity in a place our Father has gone to prepare for us where the sun will always shine!
So, have you decided on your loneliest time? There are many times that crowd my mind as I listen to falling rain and the distant song of a bird while I write. A season of loneliness came when God stirred my heart to write good news stories during Tim’s sickness. I stood on the porch and looked into the night sky with wonder in my heart as He called for my best just as I asked for His best healing for Tim. Not knowing how my heavenly Father would put all the pieces in place in His perfect timing, what to write, where to share them, or how to get started, I kept praying and trusting God to guide me. And He did! He knows what our hearts miss and fills the holes of heartache when we let Him in and learn to heed His call. Recalling things we miss and recognizing how God makes our hearts happy again testifies to His love for you and me.
What do you miss? I miss the months when God blessed me to feel the movement of our sons inside my body. I miss Tim’s gentle touch and loving messages through music. I miss the laughter of our big happy family on Christmas mornings and every night playing and laughing in the den after dinner, praying together, watching them play sports. I miss calling my mother every day just to say I love you and hearing Daddy’s silly songs while watching him unstrap his two man-made legs and sit them beside his recliner with never a grumble or ‘why me, Lord’! I miss Tim’s big bear hugs and James’ kisses on my forehead. I miss sharing cups of coffee in front of the fireplace while watching our Christmas trees twinkle and talking about our day. I miss James kneeling to pray with me before we jumped in bed and holding me in his arms every night. I miss hearing Tim say, “Daddy’s home’! I miss television shows with Christian family values and times when what was right seemed right and what was wrong seemed wrong.
Loneliness can loom like the rain that has ‘set in’ on this dreary Autumn day. We must commit like our postal system, delivering rain or shine! We must stay committed to our calling and stand strong as leaders in God’s army while finishing up the race we must run ourselves. No one can do it for us. When we face tough times courageously and call on Christ to keep us company while staying committed, we will never be lonely again. What joy knowing He will walk with us, talk with us, and call us His own!
Next week I will share what God must surely miss from His children?
Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.