8 days into my media/meat/dessert fast and I’m really starting to feel it. Maybe its having a day off after a ministry filled weekend. Maybe the post conference lull is finally getting to me. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s raining like mad right now (by San Diego standards, it’s like the end of the world… click map for visual). But I woke up this morning and felt very alone…
The feeling didn’t go away through the day and more than ever I found myself wanting to drown out the feeling in front of the tube, stalking people on Facebook, eating my room mates chocolate, or chatting away on AIM. At one point, I was looking at my iPhone and the games that I had left on my phone from before my fast had the same appeal to me as crack cocaine.
As I laid there in bed, trying to get my day started somehow, I began to realize how much “stuff” I do to keep myself from facing my poverty of loneliness. I mean I wonder how much of my life is driven by the need to feel connected to someone or something. The way I do ministry, the attention I give to my friends/family, the time I waste online… is it really all done to just cover up this gaping need in my heart to feel connected?
When I visited the International House of Prayer’s 24/7 prayer room this past break, I seriously spent an entire day in there. For 8 hours I worshiped, prayed, studied Scripture, and even napped. I remember leaving just feeling so full and refreshed. It was like drinking from a cool well after walking in the desert for too long. Reflecting on that day, I came to realize how much my soul has been missing and thirsting for God. I mean I can get so caught up being busy doing things for God, but I rarely spend time just being with God. But on that day, it was like my soul breathing in deeply for the first time in years.
Keeping today in perspective of my time at IHOP, I realize that what my soul is really yearning for today is not the distraction of the season premiere of 24, but rather to be deeply connected to my creator God. It reminds me that the true tragedy of the fall was not that man sinned and was punished, but rather that man was cut off from Him who had created him. And since that day we’ve all been struggling to reconnect in any way we can, not knowing that it is really Him we are hungering for.
So today, instead of giving into my temporary soothing balm, I faced my loneliness face on and pushed through. I chose not to cave into my emotions, but rather seek Him in the midsts of solitude. And as I worshiped and laid my burdens down once again, His presence ever so gently filled me. And although I am still very much aware of my aloneness, I know that God is with me in my solitude.
It’s still hard, but more and more I see the gift in solitude and long to choose God in the midst of it. As my friend Henri reminded me a few days ago, “The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.”