It was the perfect day. Gorgeous sunshine glinting off the water. A gentle breeze. Perfect except for one thing. I was alone. And I was feeling it.
Usually I love quiet space. Being alone with God in the midst of beauty feeds me. But this time it wasn’t enough.
Ever been there? Alone when you’re alone, or alone in a crowd? Feeling like God should be enough but somehow in that moment He just doesn’t seem to be?
A walk in the dog park
This morning I ran down past the off-leash section of beach where the dogs run free, chasing each other in and out of the water, sniffing and playing and making friends.
They’re not alone at home, of course. They have the attention of their family. They’re fed and cared for and generally happy. But they need this too. And their people bring them because they know it. To live fully, they need to run with their own kind.
When God says it
What is often said is true: we can’t look to people to fill the hole that only God can fill. No human person can provide the security, the unconditional love, the affirmation of our value for which we long. And if we seek these from them, we destroy the relationship, and hurt them and ourselves along with it. God alone can fill our center.
But it doesn’t follow from that that God is enough. He says so himself. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Alone? But the man isn’t. He is in a perfect, fact-to-face relationship with God when these words are spoken. He isn’t alone. And yet he is. He isn’t with others of his kind.
Alone with God is not enough. We need each other. And this is good. It speaks truth about who we are:
You, adam, human person formed from the dust of the adamah, are much more than the dust from which you were shaped. You are dust made in the image of God who, at his core, is love. Relationship. You were made to matter. Thus “it is not good for adam to be alone.” No, it is not good, for you were made for communion – with God and with your fellow human beings. God’s desire for you is as much about deep relationships with other people as it is about an intimate relationship with him. And your fullest joy will be found in doing whatever brings others into fellowship with you around the one whose heart binds you all together.
John knew this:
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:3-4)
Maybe when I tell myself that God should be enough I’m really saying that I should be enough. I should be able to manage life on my own. I'm beginning to suspect that my independence and individualism is often rooted in a misguided pride and forgetfulness of who I am. We are made in God's image, and God, the all-powerful three-in-one, lives in relationship, a relationship that draws all people, all things, into communion with him. Going it alone is not a strength.
Let me say it straight out. I need you. We all need you.
I haven’t had a comments box because I have wanted to offer you a quiet space in which to listen for God’s heartbeat. I still do.
But if I’m honest, I’ve also been scared. I recently read a quote somewhere which compared being published to standing at a crossroads with your pants down. Good writing, like any other form of good communication, is revealing. And therefore frightening. I’ve not been sure I wanted to know what you thought.
But listening for God’s heartbeat can’t be a solitary action. Not one of us has a corner on hearing God’s heartbeat. God reminded me of this as I listened, somewhat against my will, to someone who always seems to rub me the wrong way. Others find him helpful. But I just can’t seem to get past his sense of humor to hear what God might be saying through him. Until last week. Then I heard him speak on a story in Scripture that I hadn’t understood. What he said made it all clear. And it was precisely his different way of looking at the world that let him understand what Jesus was doing. The very thing that drove me crazy was the thing that let him hear and share a part of God’s heartbeat that I, from my more serious perspective, never could have heard without him.
We need each other.
So I’m taking the plunge and opening my comments box. When you need a quiet listening space, feel free to ignore it. Just soak in the stillness. But when something in you is jumping up and down to be part of the conversation, please jump right in. Call me on it when you think I’m wrong. Ask when something isn’t clear. Share how God is teaching you related truth in your own life. Often I’ll learn as much from you as you will from me.
Together we’ll listen for God’s heartbeat in our lives. My longing to offer you a quiet place of listening to God’s heartbeat hasn’t changed. But it needs to be a place where we’re listening together.