Sometimes it feels like it is only you out there, all alone, in the depth of night, and only the few shining lights breaking the darkness giving the illusion that there are others out there, somewhere. I have been battling loneliness of late, a profound feeling of being alone, but yet not alone. I know I am not forsaken, and that God is with me. I sense Him more than I ever have. I hear His voice, and I sense Him so near, even when not paying particular attention, I feel His nearness. I read a few verses of Scripture, or read an article, or a book, and in the words of the author, I still see Him and hear Him speaking to me. I sit in a coffee shop, and I hear music, that music that is filler in the air, and some of the lyrics cut deep into my spirit man and I know it is God speaking to me through those lyrics. Like David, there is nowhere that I can go, where He is not there! Even hell itself! As much as I know God has not forsaken me, I do feel alone.
Yes, I have my wife, and my two daughters, and close friends, but the loneliness I speak of, is the sense of being alone within the body of Christ. Lori (my wife) and I left the old housechurch we had founded, not once but twice. There were many relational issues and also theological issues involved, but the long and short of it, is that we have people more interested in ministry than in relationship and friendship and mission. It was all turned into self-realization and self-actualization, which seems to be permeating a lot of charismatic type church fellowships, be they housechurches, or traditional churches. It seems the charismatic church is in need of maturity, but is refusing to “grow up into the full stature of Christ.”
So, we left, we walked away, which caused much pain, as I thought I knew these people, but I did not. Even a decade spent in meetings doesn’t mean you authentically know someone. However, we stayed connected with some of our friends and also stayed and deepened relationships with others in the wider regional housechurch movement, but most of these friends are at least a half hour away.
Lori and I meet with a few people on an irregular basis, usually at a Williams Coffee Pub, and these are great times together, and important in sustaining friendship and fellowship. But there is more to be had. Lori and I both know what our “missional” callings are. She finds her Kingdom activity in her work as an addictions and crisis counselor while I find nothing fulfilling in my “work life.” I am even more frustrated in that area, as I re-reading (second time) Ed Silvosos’ book, Transformation. I am irritated enough, that I have pulled out my New Testament Greek books, a few Lexica, and Arndt & Gingrich, in order to take apart the one Scripture verse he loves to quote, or as I am convinced, “misquote” and “misuse”, especially the word “ethne” (nation) in the portion of the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew. The more I study it, the more ticked off I am becoming (that can be a good thing, provided I respond appropriately!). So, I for one am having the hardest time adapting to my “workplace is my mission” model that many are pushing and pimping! I am not happy and I am not content in my work. I will confess that I struggle with attitude adjustments and I can deal with it, on a daily basis, but I do not find my work satisfying in the least. Perhaps that is because I have chosen to live by, “I work to live, and do not live to work!”
I am a pragmatist and a realist, and view my work as a necessity in order to provide for the needs of my family, and leave time for the things that I believe really matter, that I want to be engaged in. So I work the best I can, and do the best I can at my work, but I don’t identify myself by my work, which explains why I loath with a great deal of contempt those introductions that include what a person’s title is, and what they do for a living. These addenda mean little to me. I want to know the heart of a person, what makes them tick, not what they do for a living! Then comes this book by Ed Silvoso and it throws me into a tizzy! I start wrestling, not with the text of Scripture, but the whole delivery of the message. It aggravates and frustrates, but again, that is nothing new to me, when I see a lack of fidelity to the the texts of Scripture. I will however update you on the ongoing developments of my discoveries on this text, on this blog. Stay tuned.
Back to my loneliness issue. So, here I am, I meet with three exceptional guys each Sunday morning. Doug, Claude and David. Great guys. Closer than real brothers. They are the epitome of what it means to be among a “band of brothers.” They will lay their lives down for me, and I for them. They will rescue me, if I need it, even from myself! They would give me the shirt off their backs, they would come to me at 3 AM, if I needed them. I count them as ver
y dear friends.
But there is more to just us men meeting and gathering together with Christ each Sunday morning at 7 AM. We need cross generational, and men, women and children, to come together. This is why I am feeling so lonely. There is no sense of family, belonging, and being more than ourselves. There is a genuine need to incarnationally have a fuller expression of Christ, as well as having it missionally expressed. I want to find a place where I can be myself, and not have to be known by my gifting, any more than by the job I work to earn my wages! I want to knit my heart with others who are knit to Christ, where I live, in my community, who have a sense of mission to the city, and a sense of mission to the province, and nation, and the world. But where are they? Where are the housechurch Christians in Kitchener Waterloo, fragmented and isolated from not only other housechurhes but even isolated from the wider body of Christ, who have no agenda, but what is on God’s heart, and His purposes to advance and release the Kingdom of God, right here, right now?
My wife is not interested in repeating the errors of the housechurch. The personalities, the dysfunctions, the heart issues, the agendas that all these people bring to the table, at which they try to maneuver, and outflank each other, it all makes for lousy body life. She has no desire for it, the religious meeting place that it became has wrought with it a lot of pain and sorrow. She lost too much during those years, and right now she just needs to heal and needs to find a place to be herself, to be authentic and unpretentious, to be set free from having to please people and perform and do “ministry.” That is the last thing on her mind, and the last thing on my mind as well. We both yearn to just connect and relate relationally, and become friends and family, with other Christ followers. This is the loneliness that I feel, the lack of connection and belonging, a sense of community and mission.
So if you are feeling lonely, you are not alone. There are others like you, who want to belong to more than a meeting, to more than a ministry, who yearn for authentic relationships, and connections, and a sense of family and belonging. More than this, there is a deep sense that we want to belong to something that matters, such as our part in the Kingdom of God, and our place in the body of Christ. It is both “being” and “doing” and right now, the lack of one affects the other in a profound way.
“Father God, draw near to us, who are called by the name of Your Son Jesus. Draw us close, and pour out your love and grace upon us, and let us be comforted by Your Spirit and the word, that says that we are not orphans. We are not fatherless. We belong to You. Father, by Your Spirit, make connections with other believers, and allow us to discover, face to face, that we are not alone, and that we no longer have to feel this haunting loneliness. Lord, we commit ourselves to You, and to those who comprise the body of Christ. Amen.”