It was the saddest funeral I ever conducted. It happened back in Australia when I was a newly ordained pastor. The local funeral director had called our church office to request someone to do a funeral service for a lady who had resided near Bondi Beach in Sydney. I was the Associate Pastor at the time, and there is an old adage, ‘Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, what the pastor won’t do, the assistant must.’ So, I was given the task of conducting the funeral service. The only person at the burial was the daughter of the lady who had died. Not another relative, not a neighbor, not a friend; no one except the daughter and she was all on her own – alone.
It reminded me of the Beattle’s song ‘All the Lonely People.’ The last verse reads, ‘died in the church and was buried along with her name, nobody came . . . . All the lonely people, where do they all belong.’
We live in a world with billions of people all around us, yet people still experience being ‘alone’ in various degrees. To some, it is a daily occurrence for a variety of reasons.
Let us look at the concept of being ‘Alone.’
ONE ALONE – LONELINESS
Back in 1943, a pretty 17-year-old girl by the name of Tini Weirings was passing a garden when she saw a farmer. As she passed by, she gave him a lovely smile. Not such an unusual things to most people, but to this man it was different. The farmer was Old Polling, the ugliest and loneliest man in North Holland. Everyone in the village shunned him for he had a shockingly mutilated face, so repulsive that nobody cared to catch sight of him. He lived a wretched life, and when he died, he left 10,000 pounds to that same girl, as she was the only person who had been good enough to smile at him.
There was once an advertisement in a Kansas newspaper that read like this, ‘I will listen to you talk for thirty minutes without comment for five dollars.’ It sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t long before that individual, who had placed the advertisement in the newspaper, was bombarded by about ten to twenty calls a day. The pain of loneliness for some is so sharp that they were willing to try anything for half an hour of companionship.
You may be feeling ‘alone’ at this moment for a variety of reasons, but God has the answer. Matthew 28:20 declares, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.’ He is there for you. Psalm 68:6 states, ‘God sets the solitary in families.’ There is a place for you in the church as part of His family. God understands your situation and is there to meet your need.
ONE ALONE – WITH GOD
There is a second way in which we may be ‘one alone,’ and that is being alone with God; spiritual solitude.
Look at the life of Jesus, and you will see the many times He spent alone with His Father (Luke 4:1, Matthew 14:23, Mark 14:32). After His baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness, a time of temptation, a time of preparation, a time of communion with God. Many times He rose early in the morning to go into the desert place to pray. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He left His disciples and went on a little way to pray. Studded throughout the brief biographies of His life are glimpses of spiritual solitude; one alone with God.
As a young Christian, I was taught the value and importance of what was called ‘A Daily Quiet Time’ or ‘Daily Devotions’; spending time with God as ‘One Alone.’ Four things are needed to have a successful ‘Quiet Time.’
1. A Set Time – morning, evening, or whatever works for you.
2. A Place – somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed.
3. A System – a Bible reading program and a way to pray.
4. Discipline – it takes commitment and self-control.
If anyone could have made it through life without praying, it was Jesus. What makes us think that we can? Let us spend time ‘alone’ with God.
ONE ALONE – FOR GOD
There is a further way in which we can stand as ‘one alone.’ It is when we stand as ‘one alone for God.’
There is a sense in which some of the greatest men of God have been the loneliest. In the wicked days before the flood, it was only Noah and his family that stood for God. When the children of Israel were to be delivered out of Egypt, so often it was only Moses alone that was for God. When the Israelites faced the Philistines, it was young David who went out alone to face the giant Goliath. When the people of Israel were tempted to worship the gods of Baal, it was Elijah who accepted the challenge and stood alone for God.
Someone has said, ‘The higher you climb, the lonelier you become. Elevation of the soul separates you from the crowd.’
When we view Jesus as He is nearing His crucifixion, we see the greatest example of the call to be ‘one alone for God.’ Look at the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane when his disciples slept while He prayed. Jesus was then arrested and taken before Pilate, and as the crowd screamed for His blood, He stood there alone – alone.
Jesus had previously said to His disciples, ‘Behold the hour comes . . . . You shall be scattered . . . . You shall leave Me alone. Yet, I am not alone because the Father is with Me.’ (John 16:32)
Maybe you are in a place where you alone are to stand for God; perhaps you are the only person in your family who is a believer; maybe you are the only Christian in your workplace. Even if we face ridicule, coldness and consequently loneliness, we must remember that this is what the Master faced as He stood as one alone for God.
GOD’S PROMISE FOR ‘ONE ALONE’
Let us remember God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:6, ‘Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear or be afraid of them, for the Lord you God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.’
CLOSING THOUGHT – RITE OF PASSAGE
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian Youth’s Rite of Passage?
His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone.
Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It
would be the only way he could become a man!
Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared, and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us.
When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.