Sunday, February 12, 2017

Nothing Wasted, 9: Lonely Problems

"'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found'" (Luke 15:31-32).

The story of the prodigal son is one that has been told, preached, written, sung, and retold by many to many in circles of both sacred and secular. It is the story of betrayal and forgiveness. It is the saga of one man's battle with his own significance and acceptance, as the real battle surrounds his own loneliness. He searches for what he thinks will fulfill, only to find his loneliness continues to persevere. The story climaxes with his returning home to be nothing more than a servant, only to discover that his loneliness was never real in the eyes of his father, whose acceptance was finally realized. 

But what can be easily dismissed or overlooked is the reality of the loneliness that is found in the underestimated supporting character of the older brother. Though he had 'everything,' he remained insecure in regards to his own identity and purpose. His own loneliness robbed him of the opportunity to celebrate the restoration of his brother who had made himself 'dead' to the entire family. He couldn't see the point because of his own pain. The father, however, uses the story of the younger son to minister love and renewal to the older son. He reminds him that he, the older brother, has never been alone. He has always had the father. He has always had the acceptance. He has always had the access. He has been faithful and that faithfulness had not been unnoticed. The celebration of the younger brother was not an indictment nor rejection of the older. It can be difficult for some to celebrate the breakthrough of another when that same bondage still exists inside of them. The father redeemed the "nothing wasted" story of the younger brother reinforce the reality of his love to the older brother. 

Loneliness can be a very dark and debilitating emotion. It is used by the enemy to bring isolation and self-deprecation. It is used to confirm every negative opinion and perception that I can have about myself. Loneliness is a lie that reinvents the definition and reality of God. Loneliness demands that no one, not even God is there with me. But I know that God is omnipresent. He is there always. I know that His Word is truth and that He has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that there is no where that I can go or be where He is not already there. When I feel lonely, I will be reminded of the truth that God is there. I also know that God can call me to be alone. It is in the alone times that I can step back from what I'm facing so that I can see a perspective from God's view that I wasn't able to see from being too up close and personal. 

God will use the alone times for me to see the reality of what's going on. God will use the alone times to work freedom in the bondage areas of my life, so that I can celebrate in the breakthrough moments of others. The alone times allow me to see God in ways that loneliness never will. The alone times allow healing. The alone times make space for worship. The alone times help me to see me the way the Father always has. I will celebrate the alone times. I will allow God to use the alone times. The loneliness I have faced is nothing wasted as I allow Him to transform the lie of loneliness into the truth of being alone with Him.

Lord Jesus. You were the master of "alone time." You set the example by withdrawing from time to time in order to meet with the Father. You got alone and drew strength from Your connection with the One who was always and is always there. Even in the darkest moments of Your time on earth, You found strength in the presence of the Father. I thank You for the alone times that You allow in my life. I thank You for the strength and the courage that comes from You that empowers me to stand during those seasons. I renounce every moment where loneliness has been given power over my mind which would seek to infect my knowledge and my faith to believe that You are always there. You are God and I know that You never change! You are here. Where You have called me, You have already gone before me. You are with me, and You are behind me. You hem me in and surround me. I am never lonely, though I may be alone. I will worship You in the presence of Your holiness and in the reality of Your existence. Thank You Jesus for all that You are and have always been. I pray this now in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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