Loneliness. Where did it come from? I feel like it has jumped out from some shrub on Ferry Road and latched itself onto me, invading the flat and permeating my being. The silence it brings with it rings and echoes. I never really expected things to happen this way. I never expected His silence now. 'Any time but now, Lord,' I cry out, 'Now when I need your guidance so very deeply.'
Amy Carmichel once wrote, 'Bare heights of loneliness....a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to Him? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.'
I have been reading Passion and Purity again (by Elizabeth Elliot). I had read it when I was seventeen, but thought I'd pick it up again. See if my views on it had changed. :) Was this book written for me? Seriously. I thought that the first time and I am thinking it now. When all in my life - my purpose, my worth, my abilities - all seem uncertain and unclear....to have someone else recount their own struggles and doubts has given my soul something to cling to. Something Better. Here are some of the things she has to say....
'I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting our heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts. It is easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence - easier sometimes than to wait patiently.' 'Silence begins to drag on my soul. It is a kind of waiting which hears no voice, no footstep, sees no sign. I feel that I could wait ten years if it were not this waiting, this silence.'
'Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all.' 'When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.'
When it seems like all others have places to go and things to do, my prayer has been, 'Help me, my Lord, to shoulder this loneliness. To bear up under your sifting and burning that I might develop perseverence, character, and my hope might be proved a solid thing. For my Hope is in You. Christ in me, the Hope of Glory.' I feel like this is such an unworthy thing to lay at His feet. Such a small trial in comparison. Why has it been this hard for me? But He does not reject our sacrifices. He does not scorn them. No matter how pitiful, no matter how small. When I ask 'Why?' (which I have done countless times these past couple of weeks), He gently reminds me that He wants all of me. Whole and Holy. And He does not ask needlessly of me. He will not despise the perfume on His feet. It says in Proverbs that 'Each heart knows its own bitterness. No one else can share its joy' (4:10). But we have a Great High Priest who is not distant and who shares in all our bitterness and all our joy. Not only that, He takes our bitterness and gives us his joy in return.
There is something equally powerful that surfaces in the loneliness and silence, though. And that is longing. It is now this longing, deep within me and bursting to come out, that threatens to take over. This longing for there to finally be an answer, finally be a someone, finally be a definition for my life. It is in the painful beauty of longing that our hearts reach out for the eternal. In this we are not alone. He, Love, has entered into our world. Our hearts. And He has understood. Because of this, we can call out to Him, 'Abba, Father.'
She continues, 'My heart was saying "Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long." The Lord was answering, "I must teach you to long for something better."'
It is this Truth that wreaks havoc on my soul. This Truth that He is better. He is better. He is better. Let this sink in, Lord....Day by day. I am not alone. And the loneliness, though now a weight, will be far outweighed by glory. That is His promise. And He who promises is Faithful.
As Jim Elliot said, 'Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.' 'Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.'
It is this challange of living the eternal in the present that I am now confronted with. I have to look past the doubt that there is nothing for me to sink my hands into, look past it to the better that He is....
Let's join in this dance of His grace, shall we?
'I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.'
The Lord is good to those whose
hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord...
....Let her sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on her....'