I was in Beijing, China with fellow community chorale members on a concert tour. We were in Tiananmen Square – which is far larger than it appears to be on TV! The guide on my bus was like the Energizer Bunny. She just kept going and going and going – lickety split! She paused at an exhibit of a very old and ornate throne, and I saw my chance to run through a little open space to get a picture of it. When I turned around, my group was gone! In the space of about 5 seconds, I was alone in Tiananmen Squiare, along with 1,000’s of my closest Chinese friends. Scared doesn’t even begin to touch what I felt. And then, my racing heart began to slow down as I experienced the sure and present awareness that God knew exactly where I was.
I started trotting back and forth about a two-block length of the Square, scanning the crowd for someone – anyone – who looked familiar. One of the men in my group was 6’7″ tall, and suddenly I saw his head reaching for the skies about a block away. No trotting now! Full running, not taking my eyes from this skyscraper guy’s head for an instant.
What did I learn from that acute alone experience?
I learned that even in my physical aloneness, I could trust in the God who created the universe to be over, under, and beside me, and I must keep my eyes on Him at all times.
(NIV) Psalm 139:3-6 You discern my going out and my lying down, you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
For a single person living alone:
- * It is God Who knows when and if you get home safely at night.
- * You can talk to God out loud and no one will think you might be just a bit dotty – in a holy sense, of course.
- * You can take necessary road trips and have your married friends call you “brave.”
- * You can trust God to help you make the big decisions you always thought you’d make with a spouse, like:
- Buying a home and all the responsibility that home ownership entails
- Buying a car
- Taking big trips
Now, lest you think I’ve totally arrived at this contentment thing about being alone, let me assure you that I still struggle at times. And, it can be the simplest of things which bring acute pain. Here are just a few of many:
While I know married folks don’t just sit around having meaningful conversations, at least the availability is there for that sort of spontaneous interaction – and I miss that.
Watching some couples walk hand-in-hand across the parking lot to their cars after church reminds me that even the simple pleasure of holding hands is just a small but poignant example of relationship which is not mine at present.
Awhile back, after several hours of pulling weeds and trimming bushes. I told God that I had certainly enjoyed our long chat, but it felt like I had done all the work. My guess is that He smiled, because He understood.
And then, I read a verse which showed me that Jesus knows exactly the depth of being alone.
(NIV) John 16:32 A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
At no time will I ever experience that total aloneness Jesus expressed when He felt forsaken even by God on the cross. (Matthew 27:46)
And, I also know that the word “alone” doesn’t just mean “quite by one’s self,” or “without a sharer.” My friend Noah Webster gives this definition: “Unique, rare, and matchless.” Not only does that last define who I am in Jesus Christ, but defines a unique, rare, and matchless God who will never leave me nor forsake me! (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Be encouraged, my friends!