‘Music in the making’

Selwyn, now talks about another form of darkness – the darkness of spiritual silence.

He says: “I mean by this, those times when we enter a situation where it seems the heavens are silent and God no longer directs us.” I don’t know what to say about this form of darkness, for me, when I’ve experienced periods of silence – there has, always been, an expectation that I would hear God’s voice – at the right time – and, at that moment, it wasn’t the right time!

I liked today’s Scripture, Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NIV): “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright, but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness … “

Are you standing, at your watch and waiting for our Lord?

Pause – and consider

Well, I guess it has been a long pause – for me to consider all the good things Jesus has done for me.

I’ve found that having prostate cancer would not be half so bad; if, it wasn’t for the medication. On hormone therapy you go through mood swings and periods of lethargy; these would be tolerable if the treatment was effective, however, with me – that’s not the case.

After Christmas, I go on chemotherapy – another medication that has some challenging issues – there’s about 40% chance that it may slow the progress of the cancer. As a follower of Jesus – I’ve no fear of death – it’s just the ‘lingering process’ which causes some apprehension. Yet, I know that He will carry me through – whatever happens.

Now, onto today’s study: Selwyn is considering the subject of loneliness.

He states: Some people bring loneliness upon themselves – they are lonely through their own actions and attitudes. … We can sometimes be so concerned with ourselves and the way we feel things should be, that others find it difficult to be around us.”

Some people are lonely through unfortunate circumstances – through no fault of their own. So, the following does not apply to them: I think it’s true that ‘anybody can have friendship who will give it’.

Plus, I think, Selwyn’s conclusion is excellent: Christ’s presence in your heart will help you be a friend, and being a friend means you will never have to concern yourself about having a friend.”

In Romans 12:9-18 (NIV), an excerpt from today’s text, we read:Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. … “.

Now, if you practice hospitality and love others in the same way that Jesus loves you – I’m sure you will never be ‘lonely’. Do you agree?

More of God

I agree with Selwyn’s comment: “If, as we have been saying, there are treasures to be found in darkness, what is the treasure that can be discovered in the depths of loneliness? It may sound trite to some, but the answer is this – a deeper sense of the presence of God.”

When you think about it, this increased awareness of God’s presence is not unusual. Jesus loves us – He knows what it’s like to feel isolated – if, we are suffering because of the lack of genuine human companionship – then, I think, He will give us a sign – that He is with us, all the days of our life. It’s a natural thing for Him to do!

Do you agree?

No one as lonely as He

I thought that this part of today’s study, was very good: “Did Jesus ever feel lonely?  … There were times when He was bereft of human companionship … The disciples it seems were incapable of entering into Jesus’ feelings as He agonised in the Garden of Gethsemane – how would He felt about that, I wonder?

His self-sacrifice mystified the people who were his closest companions. Not one single soul understood why He allowed men to take Him and string Him up on a cross.

However difficult it may be to face the darkness of loneliness, we know one thing at least – Jesus knows how it feels.”

Our Creator knows exactly how we feel in every situation – it is He, who has given us the ability to feel. The most important point is that Jesus loves you, He will always help you through periods of darkness – you are not an orphan, struggling by yourself. He is close to you – always!

“Mankind’s biggest problem”

Selwyn now looks at the darkness of loneliness. He writes: “By loneliness I don’t mean ‘aloneness’. It must be understood at once that there is a great difference between ‘loneliness’ and ‘aloneness’; it is possible to be alone and yet, not lonely. … So what is loneliness? It is the feeling we get when when we are bereft of meaningful human companionship: it is a sense of isolation, of inner emptiness, deprivation and worthlessness.”

I don’t fully agree with Selwyn’s definition. As a follower of Jesus – I don’t have a sense of inner emptiness, deprivation and worthlessness – it’s His sacrificial love which gives me value, and fills me with His Spirit. However, there have been times when I’ve felt isolated – because of the lack of genuine, human companionship.

To make sure that I was on the same track as Selwyn, I’ve had a look at the issues he addresses, over the next few days, regarding this topic.

First off, it’s important to realise that there are a number of personality types. Some people are very gregarious, and have lots of friends – they feel comfortable and relax the most when they are with a group of  friends. Other people are more introverted, like exploring ideas and being creative in solitary tasks – they may feel more comfortable with just a few, very close friends.

Just look at the mix of people that you encounter on social medium forums  – like Facebook. Some people have hundreds of friends and spend a lot of time on these forums. While others have few friends and don’t update their status – all that much. The point is that there is a range of personality types.

I’ve found that I don’t need a lot of close friends to be contented. The times when this darkness has descended on me is when one of my close friends has died or they leave the area where I live and contact is significantly reduce because of the distance, which separates us.

A few years back, when two of my closest friends died; and at around the same time I retired from work and moved to a different location. This was the time I experienced a deep and painful loneliness.

Yet, it was also a time that when I cried out to my Lord for some comfort – He came close to me and I experienced His presence in a way that I had never felt before. Travelling through this period of darkness gave me the confidence to completely trust in Our Lord’s everlasting and dependable love. Since that time I’ve not felt the heaviness of loneliness.

Finally, some people are lonely because they choose to remain in that darkness. Friendship involves two people – if you make no effort to be a friend – if you seal yourself off  and remain in your human fortress and never open the door to others, you will lose some of your skills to interact with others in a friendly manner. You will be lonely, and you will stay that way. Yet, even in these self-imposed times of isolation, God’s love can break in, and set you free – to be a friend! Ask Him, in prayer – to unlock the door for you.

The following piece of Scripture doesn’t have a direct link, with today’s topic. But, I’ve just read it, and I found them to be so great that I want to share them with you, my friend (Psalm 119:169-176 (NIV)).

” … May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.

May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.

I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.”

Grace that abounds

I found a lot (as follows) in today’s study, which – to me – was really good.

… one of the treasures we are likely to find in the darkness of bereavement is a new discovery of God and a new understanding of His Word. We may think we understand a truth of Scripture, but we will never really understand it until that truth is the only thing we have left to hold on to.  …

Out of our personal sorrow comes a sensitivity and a concern for others that impacts their lives in a greater way than ever before.”

We, the children of God are receptive to His love and He helps us to learn empathy and sensitivity, from the experience of our difficult times. I think this is a major difference between Christians and those who are not followers of Jesus.

For example, in Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV), we read: ‘Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of goldwas brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” ‘

To show mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love – which is born out of our heart’s desire and not just intellectual assent (to make ourselves feel good, or because it is expected of us); is an act of love nurtured and developed, by God’s own love for us. I think, those who do not have a relationship with God, that they cannot fully forgive another – from their heart.

Do you agree?

When diamonds look their best

Not much to say, but this bit is perhaps a good summary of today’s study: “Just as a precious diamond is best seen against a dark velvet background, so does the truth of God shine more beautifully when set against those black moments of life such as death and bereavement.”

It has been my experience that you can’t think about much, during these terrible dark moments; it’s more the case that later on, you can look back and see just how much Jesus carefully held your head above water and did not let you sink. He is an awesome God.