This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Gustavo Figueroa (from Cuba. Gustavo Figueroa is an itinerant evangelist and writer, using a pseudonym for personal safety reasons), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
...Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
We know the loneliness which the great missionary David Livingstone experienced while serving the Lord in Africa. We also remember how Martin Luther spent his time in loneliness in a fortress, where he used this time to translate the Bible into the German language. No room for bitterness: 'Lord, deliver me from this place so I can serve you better.' No, he served the Lord right where he was, despite the limitations.
And what about John Bunyan, confined to a prison for 10 years, where he wrote his famous book: The Pilgrim's Progress?
Yes, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. From the Bible and from church history. People who lived by faith, not by sight.
At the same time we realize that sometimes we can live by sight, and not recognize God's presence. We feel like the two men on the road to Emmaus, who thought they were walking 'alone', while Jesus walked with them.
'...Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?' (Luke 24:32).
There are numerous examples from the Scriptures and from history which tell us that a Christian will never walk the road of faith alone. Whatever the circumstances may be, even if our feelings or perception dictate the contrary, the Lord will be with us, in us and for us. Hallelujah.
A moment of introspection: There is a common expression, to the effect that "if God seems far away, guess who moved." Believers in Christ know that His name, Immanuel, reminds us that God is with us; we are not in the experiences of life alone and, if God seems remote at times, it is most likely that we have stopped 'Practicing the Presence' or have taken our eyes off of God in Christ. Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) tells us that Jesus Christ is closer than a brother. What a friend we have in Jesus! Proverbs 17:17 (ESV/NLT) tells us that our Friend loves us at all times and is always loyal; a brother is born to help in time of adversity or need. God is never far from us; consider the account of the apostle Paul, in Acts: "Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In Him we live and move and have our being'. (Acts 17:27b-28a) Usually, when we feel alone, we are faced with some kind of problem or adversity. At such times, we might be inclined to 'hang it all up', 'throw in the towel', or just give up. We have counted on God to be with us, yet we don't sense His presence. In such times, "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." (Hebrews 12:3) God is with us. Practicing the sensitivity to recognize His presence takes just that--practice. May we say and truly believe, that wherever we are, God is with us? Perhaps, then, we will not experience the loneliness of David Livingstone, and others.
Yet one additional piece to mention is that idleness or inertia may contribute to feelings of being alone. In the short time left before the Lord calls believers upward, may we redeem the time; occupy until the Lord comes. To clarify what "occupy until the Lord comes" means, I contacted a current ministry with which I am affiliated, and the explanation is as follows:
Occupying until the Lord comes is:
"...more about understanding the whole counsel of God's Word. We are told to share the gospel as well as use the gifts the Lord has given us. Galatians 6:9-10 says 'Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.' There are plenty of parables talking about using our talents/minas, etc. Look at the Book of Acts. We are called to be disciples and that is a great example for us, to be about our Father's business.
Sadly, too many people today who label themselves Christians/Believers are so busy living in this world for the things of this world. Nowhere in the Word does it say to be complacent and to live according to the world's ways. The Bible says in Colossians 3:2 'Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.'"
Joanne Arnott, Ministry Coordinator, www.beholdisrael.org
God asks us to be active for His Kingdom. Serving Him and seeking His will while we serve, and keeping communication alive with our God through prayer can be two helpful ways to keep us close to Him while we work for our heavenly Father. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told a parable of a persistent widow "...to the effect that they [His followers] ought always to pray and not lose heart." To the Christians in the church at Colossae, the apostle Paul not only said that he was praying for those who were part of that worshiping body (they were not alone in their faith journey), but also asked them to pray for him in his work for the Lord (Colossians 1:3,9). The same type of requests were sent to the church workers in Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:11; 3:1)--in which the apostle Paul was praying for those active in the church in that city, and requesting prayer for his missionary work for the Lord. Good communication through prayer is essential not only to seek the Lord's guidance, and to ask the Lord to work through and bless the work of co-laborers, but also to establish and maintain a working relationship with Immanuel, God with us. In these ways, working for the Kingdom in the days remaining, we avoid complacency, avert loneliness by maintaining an ongoing relationship/linkage with the One Who empowers us, and ensure that we set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. Thus we shall not be alone as we walk the road of faith. Working for the Lord right where we are, and communicating with our heavenly Father keeps our love for God, in Jesus Christ from growing cold as Matthew described in discussing many people in our current times. (Matthew 24:12)
We are not alone; Mr. Figueroa encourages us as he wrote that "a Christian will never walk the road of faith alone. Whatever the circumstances may be, even if our feelings or perception dictate the contrary, the Lord will be with us, in us and for us. Hallelujah." Hallelujah, indeed!