Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Lonely Place by Yourself

Have you ever felt the need to go off somewhere and be by yourself? You know what it’s like when the daily grind of work and the noise all around you, real and imagined, just get to be too much and you just want to be alone so you can sort things out. Maybe even talk with God about the why and the where of things. Have you ever been there?
I have. And I find its not always easy finding a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts and with God. Oh it’s easier now that the kids are grown but when they were young and clamoring for my attention when I would come home from work that was different. There was no peace or quiet or alone time, except very late at night or very early in the morning.
Jacob knew what it was like; Jesus knew what it was like and so did Paul. They all felt the pull of the Spirit to be alone with God. Because when they were alone, alone with God, they could get rid of all their burdens and talk with Him about all the things that were troubling them. They could wrestle with their problems; sometimes they even wrestled with God. That’s what Jacob did. And it changed him physically and mentally. He was a different person after being alone and wrestling with God.
Jesus often when away into the wilderness or up on the mountaintops to be alone, to talk with His Father. Sometimes he succeeded in being able to have some privacy but other times like in today’s scripture lesson the people would find him and his alone time was interrupted.
Do you think it’s important that we have time alone with God? I believe that it’s very important to spend time alone with God every day. Do I always get to? No, I don’t but I try because I’ve learned or I should say that God has taught me that it’s necessary to be alone so he can communicate with me and I can listen to his voice without being distracted by the noise of my daily life.
I come back to the pulpit today after having been able to have some alone time with God in some of the most beautiful places in his wonderful creation. One week I was camping alone every night in my tent as I biked across Iowa. The early morning and the late evenings were the best times for me. I woke to the sounds of robins, wrens, and cardinals singing their hearts out welcoming the sun and in the evening while lying on my sleeping bag I listened to the world quiet down. It was then I could talk with God and thank Him for all he had done for me that day or thank Him for a restful night as I woke in the morning.
And last week in the North woods it was the same thing. I woke to the singing of the loons and when to sleep listening to the sounds of boys talking as the recounted their adventures fishing and swimming in the Minnesota lakes. I thanked God for all of it.
We all need to find that lonely place so that we can talk with God and listen to Him as he fills us with his peace and love. These lonely places aren’t always idyllic places where everything is easy. Sometimes they are places where we encounter our problems and struggle with them all night and maybe, like Jacob, we may even wrestle with God trying to find answers to some personal life’s questions.
But no matter what the outcome, whether our time in the lonely place is quiet and peaceful or a wrestling with God we still need to find lonely places.
I pray that God will lead you to that lonely place where you can hear his voice and he can hear you give him your praise and thanks. I pray that he will show you the lonely place where you can be relieved of your burdens and finally be free of your sin realizing that you have been forgiven and know that you are loved.
Thanks be to God for the lonely places. Amen.

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