The word and images we connect with this word likely varies with each of us based on our experience with the reality of it, our personality bent, or the season we find ourselves in.
For those reasons the word and reality may be one we view positively or very negatively. Perhaps neither is quite accurate. Maybe it has more to do with what has brought us to such a place and whether we chose it, or it chose us.
When our lives are overflowing with demands and busyness, we may desire and try to create some alone space to be refreshed and restored. I was so much aware of desiring that as I approached retirement a few years ago. It felt as if every minute of my days had been stretched to the breaking point. Despite my passion for people and a great variety of things, I felt parched for more alone time.
My desire and commitment are to have some alone time to start each day. For me that means I slip away to my favorite red leather chair with a cup of coffee in hand. On the table beside me will be stacked one of my Bibles that I am currently reading, my current journal, a resource or two, and my favorite pen. Quieting myself with these things for a period of time never fails to set me on a better trajectory for the day.
This aloneness is the very best kind. I have closed off connection with others in any and all forms, but in this aloneness, I am not truly alone. It is there the Lord adjusts my focus, perspective, attitude, and heart to more align with His.
I not only sense greater contentment and a long list of other things, but I then am propelled to accomplish all that I need to do that day. A great deal of experience has taught me that about this kind of aloneness. If circumstances interfere with this time or I need to leave the house for an early appointment or even feel there is too much to do to stop for this, I always get less done that day and how I experience the day is less positive as well.
There is another alone that we can experience that comes when we would prefer not to be. The enemy knows this one is where he can toy with us causing us to be believe a host of lies about ourselves, the others in our lives, and God as well. In such times and places, he taunts us with his quiet whispers.
The enemy wants us to believe we are truly alone, uncared for by those in our lives with whom we seek fellowship, and uncared for by God as well. If we succumb to these lies (Who of us can say we haven’t at some point?), he leads us down shadowy paths where we sense isolation from all that speaks and gives life to us.
Make no mistake. The enemy wants us to be and feel isolated.
It is there his temptations are most effective and we are often most vulnerable. It is in such times, he believes he can seduce us into believing God is not good, not committed to us, not “for” us. If he batters us long enough, our resolve to refuse the lies can weaken and then he will offer another way that he promises will be much better. He’s cunning and believes it will work, but he has been doing it for thousands of years with varying degrees of success with all of mankind.
Recently our family went to see the new Star Wars movie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). It is a series we got caught up in when the first movie was released (1977) and we stood in line with our two children to see it. This latest release found us going to the movie with one of our adult children and four of our grandchildren (2 of whom are adults).
I am NOT a big sci-fi fan at all, but the series captures my imagination and interest because of its themes of light battling against darkness and truth opposing lies. In those ways it reminds me of an earlier time when westerns on the movie screen pitted the good guys against the bad guys.
Back then it seemed to be easier to identify the good guys from the bad guys. Today the masks so many wear by design or without awareness make that more difficult.
In this new release there is a scene where the “good guys” call out across the universe for help against an overwhelming enemy that will surely destroy them. In the midst of the losing battle, the “good guys” are tempted to believe no one is coming to their aid and all will be lost. But then when the worst is upon them, they look and see the aid they sought has come and the sky is filled with those coming to be with and fight alongside of them.
In that moment, one of the “good guy” pilots (Po), says, “We are not alone.”
That makes all the difference.
It reminds me of the story in 2 Kings 6 about Elisha and his servant, Gehazi, who are surrounded by enemy armies and Gehazi believes they will be destroyed. But that is not how the story goes:
“15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
2 Kings 6: 15-17 (NIV)
If we are faltering with the temptation to believe we are alone and no one, not even the Lord, cares about us. May the Lord open are eyes to the truth: WE ARE NOT ALONE.