The Loneliness of The Long Distance Journeyman.
One of the major changes in the new landscape is the vast change in the amount of people connected to your life and relating to you on a daily and weekly basis. For people who enjoy the buzz of having other people around or who need those constant words and presence of encouragement this can be the biggest hurdle to overcome, or be the thickest wall to pushing onward and upward to breakthrough and break away. It is an amazing revelation of where our true dependency lays, in God or in people. This can be the greatest cause of people swinging back into the familiar and known paths. For me personally the full schedule, which was full of people, either that I wanted to share time with or if I was honest many I didn’t because I could not really personally relate to them, yet had to because of my job description, expectations and it was a sign of true Christian love. This schedule was replaced with the loneliness of a long distant journeyman. No phone calls demanding my time, my advice, my counsel, my wisdom, my preaching, my company for coffee, just silence… And at first that silence is not golden, it is a spooky silence that communicates rejection. People then tell you that you should not be cutting yourself off from the Body of Christ or living the loose canon life, that you should not be neglecting the gathering together, and all this adds to the feelings and turmoil going on in the mind and heart. This often leads to the desire to go back to a ‘church’ situation which can be more intimate but still have the same expectations. Either this or something new is begun to gather like-minded people together. Before you know it something to go to regularly and religiously has been created. This may not be wrong in itself but part of the journey has not been embraced and experienced. We have to learn the richness of the place of isolation before the new land can be entered into. The pain needs to be experienced and embraced. We need this place more than we need people around us. Isolation will then create a stronger foundation for richer, truer relationships.
Shut Your Doors.
Elisha learned to shut the door, Isaiah asked us to go to our chambers and shut the door when shaking occurs in the earth, Jesus told us to shut the door when we prayed. There is a sense in which shutting the door behind us is the process to opening the door ahead of us. Isolation is the room of detox that we all desperately need to enter through the Gate to the garden, the new world, our wormhole, our Narnia. It is here we discover so much about ourselves and about our true walk with Jesus. It is here we learn to fall in love all over again not with the one who pours gifts upon us and the ‘church’ but with the One who remains when all else is gone. We rediscover the One who whispers and not just impresses with magic tricks. We rediscover lives so tightly bound together that isolation becomes a friend that turns into true intimacy. Everyone who is anyone in the Scriptures had a place where the doors to the past were shut. No one’s lives were about dynamic ministry 24/7, being public all the time, gathering weekly even 2-3 times. There may have been times and seasons when they gathered more regularly but they were exceptions to the normal path of walking out life and journeying often alone or with family and friends. Jesus met more people along the road than He did in meeting situations. Paul spent more time in isolation than he did preaching, yet we would swear all Paul’s identity was as a mean preaching machine. Many of his letters were written in isolation. John wrote Revelation from a place of isolation. It is a place to be embraced and not shunned or treated of as the enemy taking a swipe at us. It is rich, colourful, life transforming, painful, deep crying out to deep. It is time to shut the door behind us and not leave it ajar, because when it gets lonely and painful we will end up running back.
The New Landscape.
When the door is closed and we have experienced the deep working of the Beloved a whole new world opens up before us.
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
I’m like a shooting star
I’ve come so far
I can’t go back
To where I used to be.
This embraced place of isolation becomes the place of newer stronger relationships as you find others who are journeying. Others who are also looking for reality from a place of intimacy with Father. This is where connectivity and gathering will find a new home and have a fresh breeze upon it. You will spend time with people wanting to share lives together not out of religious ceremony but out of relationship and love. These will be regularly irregular, spontaneous, no agenda gatherings. Friends sharing, laughing, loving, crying, hoping, praying, rebooting. Parties instead of preaches. Jamming sessions instead of practiced worship. Drinking, eating, food loving gatherings instead of communion tables prepared with pretty doilies. Yet our dependence will not lay here. There will be no checking up on absentees. The encouragement will be not to come if there is no inclination too rather than come out of pressure and guilt. And not just if you have something else to do, it is fine to prefer to do nothing at all. When isolation is embraced the place of nothing becomes one of the richest places on earth. Remember when I once took a Sabbatical from ‘preaching’, God said to me ‘this time of doing nothing will be the most productive time of your life.’ We need to realise and see that when God is about doing nothing is never really doing nothing. No wonder I have learned to live in the place of not doing. Now life is a Sabbatical. I once was surrounded by people and demands and attention, the important things and One often got crowded out. Isolation was loneliness at first, but now I am never alone. I tried to create community and make church happen, but as I rest I realise I am part of a community that I have not joined and cannot leave in Him. I have discovered other long distant journeyman along the path and there has been instant connectivity without expectations. The new world is only beginning to get into view and already I am in awe at what I have seen. There is yet so much more to discover…