Thursday Memo

Hi Five Oakers, loneliness 1

The image of being locked in a room with God from last weekend resonated with a lot of you. Maybe you turned back toward God and tried to make the best of it this week but you felt alone in the room. You asked him to make his presence clear—you asked him to help you feel he is near—and you still feel alone. Now what?

// Know you are not alone. The Psalmist often cry out to God about his silence.

"Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!" (Psalm 44:23)

"O God, do not keep silence…" (Psalm 83:1a)

This is such a painful experience and so common that hundreds of books address the subject.

// Understand the breadth of your brokenness. Your brokenness, because of sin and Separation, isn’t just physical and relational; it’s emotional. Your emotions need healing. Your senses are always off. No one will experience God’s silence or absence at the New Creation.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God." (Revelation 21:3).

But until then (when God will unlock the door for good), some of us will struggle sensing God at times, and some of us will struggle more than others with the sense of God’s presence.

// Listen to and trust God’s Word. The Bible is how God speaks to you. When he says he’s there, trust his words more than your broken senses.

"The Lord is at hand…" (Philippians 4:5b)

Commit to the practice of questioning your senses and understanding more than you question God.

// Get up and serve others in the room. It’s in the context of proclaiming the Great Commission that Jesus’ promises his presence.

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)

Some people are even wired to experience God’s presence most through serving. And no one gets a pass on making God's kingdom our highest priority.

// Learn to “see through” in corporate worship. You’re going to hear me talk about this a lot in my next series, but here’s what I mean. It’s easy to become addicted to the sounds, sites, beats, togetherness and tunes of worship and to fail to see through to whom we are worshiping. Don’t equate emotional highs with God’s presence. Last weekend’s worship is a great case in point. It was quiet enough to “see through” the words and the tunes in a fresh way.

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." (John 4:23)

There's a place for exuberant and loud worship, but make room in your life for simple and quiet worship too.

// Know you are not alone. Yes, I said that already, but this means you need to share your hurt with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes you will see and hear and feel Christ through them.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

God has designed us to grow and deepen through our brothers and sisters in Christ in his church. If you are hiding your pain or withdrawing you are declaring yourself smarter than God. Try it his way.

Blessings to all of you, Pastor Henry