In spite of ‘flu shots, my family has been sick with the California ‘flu, which laid us all low for a couple of weeks. When I spoke to Nancy this morning, we had a real confession bout. We both had missed the chit-chat that we normally experience on the E, which of late has dried up a little. In fact it was your message about Job, Fred, that caused us to both admit that we still feel so lonely at times and were a little envious of your being able to have fellowship with Luli and John.
Nancy admitted that she was afraid that I was annoyed with her because I had not returned her ‘'phone calls. (I hadn’t received her messages.) This while she was experiencing the pain of leaving her church. We are both so thankful that we live in this electronic age of communication but how quickly Satan takes us into those feelings of “something being wrong”. We are so easily convinced that we are at fault when the message boxes are empty or the 'phone doesn’t ring. I admitted to Nancy that I too was missing the fellowship and also had that little niggle of self-doubt. All pushing us back into feelings of loneliness.
I had so many fears as a child. Growing up in London during the war, I was left with fears of separation, fears of war. As a sickly child I had experienced several long bouts of separation from my parents, between the age of five and eight, while in hospital or convalescent homes. I remember feeling so jealous of my younger sister when I came home because she shared memories of holidays and visits in which I had not taken part.
Then came the war and the evacuation of the children of London causing separation once again. In a one-room village school the radio was used as a teacher and my sister and I experienced the horror of hearing on the children’s news programme, which was the first lesson every morning, the usual report that London had been bombed again, with the resulting fear for our parents safety.
I must have seen these separations as a rejection. I was always trying to please my parents probably to ensure that they kept me and that I wouldn’t be sent away again. So I entered my adult life with all sorts of fears of rejection, of separation, of war and the separations that it causes, of illness and the possibility of separation again.
Twenty years later, in the midst of the tragedy of my young husband dying and of receiving a cable from England to say that my mother was also dying, once again having to fearfully face separation from those I loved, the Lord filled me one night with bubbling joy.
There were those who were critical of my joy in such circumstances and in answer to the criticism which was expressed, I said, “They just don’t understand that for the first time I feel ‘safe’.” One of the first promises that the Spirit gave me was that all things work together for good and I lived safe in that promise no matter how it appeared to be.
Safe, in God’s care for us during that year. Safe in our church family, who were so supportive during that year. So safe that my husband said it was as though the Lord had wrapped us in velvet.
Then twenty years later, now more than twenty years ago, I was separated from my family, the church.
Around that time I had a hefty group of about thirty meeting in my home every week, learning about union then a couple of months later, in one fell swoop, the group fell apart. Another separation. What doubts attacked then! Had God stopped it because I believed falsely? etc. etc. etc.
One of the experiences, which we all seem to share, is that of not being “of this world”. We no longer ‘fit in”. What we hear in church causes such inner conflict. It becomes unbearable to listen to one more sermon. Somehow, accepting the mystery of union demands this separation. We had become ‘knowers’ of such a different message from the rest of the church family, but at least at first we had Norman and others with whom we could share.
Then came the testing!
It was such misery!
Oh! It was so lonely.
For some of us it was necessary for us spend time completely alone, with no one with whom to share, sometimes not even God. It was stepping into an aloneness of despair, fear, rejection, self-hate etc. much of it coming from our church family, even worse was that some of it came from other ‘knowers’. Even in my knowing that all things work together for good, the agony of the loneliness of separation persisted.
For the last conference we had in Canada with Norman in 1985, the attendance had dropped from over a hundred to seventeen. In discussion about this, it was revealed that those of us who remained had all suffered. The one thing I brought home from that conference, apart from Fred giving an example of his weakness and God's strength in that weakness, was the fact that to walk this road one must suffer.
It takes the suffering, loneliness, rejection, ridicule and the separation etc. for us to be willing to "lose our life". Oh! How we cling to our vision of ourselves as we think we should be and our 'phony portrayal of who we are. We have to be broken before we are really willing lose our life. While life is worth living then we won't give it up. As Fred said, life has to be not worth living to make us finally be willing to let it go.
The fact that this morning Nancy and I were sharing our feelings of loneliness and later today we read that Fred’s friend was sharing the same thing, that he had known more barreness, aloneness, and despair since he had been with Christ than when he was an unbeliever and more abuse and unkindness from followers of His than from the world, which really shows our Oneness. Our inner-consciousness seems to be one and so very often our thoughts or the verses that we have read that day coincide with those of others with the mind of Christ.
Now I have just read Alex’s message to Nancy and how it fits in. We need to lose everything in the temporal to know the eternal. The ‘new man’ is a spiritual being and the loneliness was necessary for us to learn to walk in the Spirit. We are not ‘of this world’. The journey that we have to take to experience this must be taken alone. All the separations and its resulting fear were of the aloneness which each one brought.
We must experience separation from the world. It is this that takes us finally to ‘see’ the now of the Kingdom of Heaven. To leave all the ‘sludge’ of the world that appears to be, to leave all the false appearances of right and wrong, of good and evil, to see the heavenly realm in which we now live, with the single eye of love, light and life.
I thrill to find that we all share the knowledge that we were “worthless bums”, who now walk in the joy of knowing that, in Him, we are holy and blameless and complete and whole, lacking nothing. (Ephesians 1:4 James 1:4)
Holy, even though I am a worthless bum.
Blameless, even though I am at fault.
Complete, with nothing more to be added.
Whole, with no parts missing, and lacking nothing - all I need - I already have.
It took loneliness for me to know that!
It took loneliness for me to know eternal safety in His glorious, loving Oneness with Him and with each other. In this world of opposites I would never have appreciated what you mean to me if I had not known loneliness.
“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.” I sang that for years without ‘knowing’. Now I can shout it from the housetops!!!
Another confession this morning was that we often don't share our writing or thoughts because it makes one so vulnerable, which is another thing that Fred shared. I just want you to know that you all are my joy. My precious Ones who share with me our Oneness, I treasure you all so much and prize every word you write even if it just to say “Hi!” That is what this message is really about - it is to thank you all and to encourage you to share. With you I feel safe in our Oneness. I know that I can allow you into my innermost secrets for you will understand. I can feel safe in my ignorance because you will encourage me in love. I can share my fears because you are perfect love and will cast out my fears. I can share my joy because you too know that joy and will not belittle it in envy. We really need the fellowship that we all seem to miss with our leaving the church.
Thank you Fred, for your example of willingness to write and to take the hated ‘lumps’ when they come. Giving us the courage to add our voices. I remember Norman saying that we were like twinkling lights appearing in the darkness. Twinkling lights are like the stars - set apart in the darkness but we live in the world of Light and in that Light our lonely twinkling lights are One. In this day of electronic communication some of us cannot see each other’s light, we can only read it in our writings, so once again we need to share to know that Oneness.
Thank you Luli, for the bright spot in every day, no matter whether there are e-messages, 'phone calls etc. or not, your “Daily Thought” lifts me up. Love you and am beginning to get excited, now that Spring seems to be appearing, with the robins hopping about, thinking about Louisville in September, please God.
Love you all.