Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Alone No More

Dear Friends,

My heart breaks for those struggling through the quicksand of life and just trying to make it on their own from one day to the next. I’ve been there - done that. Most of you know my story. Born into a church-going Episcopalian family. Acolyte at age nine. Heard God’s call on my life as a teenager to be a priest. Disturbed by things happening in the church and walked away to focus on the world. Believed in God. Jesus had always been my Savior, and still was, but now He was no longer the Lord of my life. I was in charge now. I was still a “Christian,” but I was living my life without any input or interference from God! I was strong, independent and self-reliant. I was in control and stumbling through life my way.

I never had the nightmares when I was a child. They started when I was in my 20's and were terrifying dreams. Always the same. I dreaded them. In the dreams, I’d be grieving over a loss, an emptiness. I don’t have the words to adequately describe the gut-wrenching emotional trauma I was experiencing in these dreams. This over-whelming feeling of loneliness was so intensely deep and pervasive that I would sometimes wake up sobbing. My whole day would be ruined by the residual of the dream which just seemed to permeate my soul. I couldn’t shake it off. The dreams of this vividly intense loneliness were so horrendous that there were times I didn’t want to fall asleep at night because I was afraid I’d dream it again. I had them on and off for two decades and I’d obsess about its meaning. Was it the loss of something or someone that I was still processing? Were the dreams a prophetic projection of a future loss that would absolutely destroy me?

Then in 1994, I walked into an Evangelical Pentecostal church, gave my heart fully and unreservedly to God and the Holy Spirit seized my soul, and to this day, has not let go of me. Many years later, I suddenly remembered those nightmares of loneliness and realized I had not had one of those dreams since fully giving my life over to God. In the very next moment, I heard the small, still voice of God. He said, “That was your life without Me.”

In my sleep, my soul had been crying out to connect with God. It’s been said that we have a God-shaped vacuum in our heart that only God can fill. When that space where God should be is empty, we experience a spiritual aloneness. As did I for too long, many feel that emptiness but are unaware that the only One who can fill that void is waiting for them to ask Him into their life. That’s why my heart breaks for those struggling through life without the presence of God. They’re trying to make it on their own from one day to the next and doing everything they know how to do, but it’s just not working. Even those who go to church, believe, pray, recite the creeds, sing the hymns... 

Many people believe in God, go to church and check the “Christian” box under the “religion” question on the survey. They intellectually “believe” in Jesus, but because they’ve never accepted Him in their heart, they experience a spiritual aloneness without the One who makes life complete. Years ago I did a memorial service at a mainline liturgical (Lutheran) church. At the end of the service, I said, 

“Some of you have been going to church all your life. You pray the prayers and recite the creeds yet there’s an emptiness in your spiritual life. You know the truth of God but He feels distant and you’ve never truly felt His love for you. You’ve never felt a personal relationship with Jesus. Some of us love our church but after the last notes of the final hymn fade way, we again feel spiritually empty because our soul craves not a ritual, but a relationship with Jesus. If I’m speaking to you, you can invite Him into your heart right now. Everyone close your eyes and if you are willing to fully accept Jesus into your lives and truly give yourself to Him, raise your hand and look up at me.”
Of the seventy in attendance, twenty-seven looked up at me including the Lutheran pastor’s mother and brother. (I was not invited back to that church.) That response would be no different in many Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches today. Many Christians are like I was. Yes I was “saved,” but was floundering in life and feeling spiritually alone because I had never fully accepted Jesus into my heart. During that time, my soul grieved in my dreams because we can be “religious” in belief and practice but still have that God-shaped void in our lives that only He can fill. 

If any of what you’ve just read has resonated in your soul, then He’s reaching out to you today. God is persistent because of His unconditional and never-ending love for you. Until you accept Him as the Lord of your life, He will unrelentingly beckon you to give yourself fully to Him. Poet and Catholic nun Joyce Rupp calls Him the “Beckoner.” 


You tap at the window of my heart. 

You knock at the door of my busyness. 

You call out in my night dreams. 

You whisper in my haphazard prayer. 

You beckon. You invite. You entice. 

You woo. You holler. You insist: 

“Come! Come into my waiting embrace. 

Rest your turmoil in my easy silence. 

Put aside your heavy bag of burdens. 

Accept the simple peace I offer you.”

If you’re living life your way instead of His way, life may seem to you like that “heavy bag of burdens.” Run into His waiting embrace. He’s right here. Waiting for you...

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