Divine Summons 23

Loneliness is a Bitter Friend

My story so far has been one of significant loneliness.  The two years of college (2000-2002) following my deep inward shift of faith from my encounter with the Book of Acts were the loneliest of my life.  There is a loneliness far worse than the lack of friends.  It’s the loneliness of being surrounded by many friends, and yet having hardly one who can see into your heart, relate to your desires and share in your newfound passion and purpose.

These were years of growing alienation from my family, partly due to their inability to understand the new journey God had me on, but mostly because of the walls I had raised up between us.  My single-minded obsession with God and His Word resulted in an indifference to almost everything else — even good things like hanging out with friends, playing basketball or watching a silly movie.  I retreated into a world of ideas and made friends with dead Christian writers who lived on through their writings. I often turned down Friday night engagements with friends to stay back and spend the evening with John Bunyan or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The seminary years (2003-2005) were much more balanced on the whole.  I came through my season of fundamentalist retreat from society with a much more balanced view of the Christian life. The way God brought me through the fundamentalist tunnel and out the other side deserves an entire chapter of which we don’t have the space here.

My social life was back to normal and my relationship with my family was on the mend.  Most importantly, God gave me the gift of Keri, as down to earth and socially adjusted as they come, to keep me grounded in reality and balance out my introverted tendencies.

The loneliness I now felt in the summer of 2006 was more narrowly focused on the apostolic vision and call I had been carrying alone up until now.  A quick glance back at my entire story thus far will reveal very few references to friends and fellow believers on the ride.  This would need to change soon.  After several months of plodding away at Bethel Methodist with less-than-exciting results and very little sense of partnership in the greater vision, I was sinking into despair.  I was losing the vision and starting to give up hope.

As the warm summer nights rolled back into town, I began again my practice of prayer walks at night — alone.  I was hoping for another divine encounter, some reassurance that I was truly going to be used as an apostle to the teens of Mound.  Lonely and a bit afraid, I set out toward the memorial garden at Bethel Methodist to pray.

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