Thank you, dear one, for joining me over the past few weeks as we explore Life on Loneliness Island. If you haven't been able to read the first two entries, why don't you take a few moments to catch up by clicking here.
I'm longing for a coffee date that I didn't ask for and that doesn't involve me needing to have all the answers or pray the prayer of faith. A friendship that doesn't rely on only me to do the pursuing. Frankly, I'm longing for a way out of loneliness.
And then I go back to the Word. Oh, His precious Word. The girls and I are attempting to memorize Psalm 91 this summer. This morning as I cling to the first two verses I am reminded: I need not be lonely if I'm placing myself consistently in His presence. "He who dwells…" Am I living in His presence, His shelter? Sure, I talk to Him everyday. He's in my thoughts, on my mind. But am I resting there?
Apparently not enough. I buffer the anxiety and manage well enough. But am I content? It's gotten to where contentment feels lazy. And yet I crave it. I have come to this conclusion, however: Contentment is not laziness when it's grounded in His presence. (July 2017)
Journaling for me has always helped me to process my thoughts. Sometimes my thought life can supersede my prayer life. So when I begin to write my thoughts down, I see the reality of their weight. I can't deny what I see there in ink on paper. "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks", or rather, writes. Ironically, the person seeking to connect women to one another often grapples with a sense of disconnect. It comes with the territory of ministry and leadership, I do believe. At least that's what we read from the psalmist David so often.
Loneliness Island can bring a girl down, if she lets it. And yes, we should throw out that life preserver for authentic friendship, even if it feels gutsy and vulnerable. But we cannot negate the treasure that we find when all that is left is a friend called Jesus. That almost sounds silly when I write that down: all I have is Jesus. It makes you wonder why that isn't enough, right? Because He is everything. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He's our Comforter, Redeemer, Provider. He forgives, listens, and disciplines. He is enough.
The treasure that can be discovered on Loneliness Island is simply the fresh discovery of two things:
Christ is enough. In the midst of one arduous or busy season after another, it's easy to become, first, satisfied with less of His presence, and then, depleted of His presence altogether. Without intentional effort to maintain a friendship with the Lover of our souls, that friendship will also deteriorate, regardless of how often we teach from His Word, lead others in worship, or pray for others' needs. Finding ourselves in need of authentic connection often, gratefully, leads us to a fresh realization that the Holy Spirit is waiting right where we left Him. Waiting for a few moments of our uninterrupted time. And there's just no greater friendship than that.
Contentment. This is designed by God Himself--the process of emptying ourselves to become available for more of Him. The apostle Paul wrote from his on-again-off-again home address at the local dungeon about his very journey from discontentment to contentment. He was no stranger to the presence of the Lord, nor from divine revelation. In fact, he had experienced manifestations that he said were too glorious to express with words. And yet he still had to learn how to be content.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take (the thorn) away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NLT emphasis added)
Paul reminded the believers in Philippi about the process of learning to be content. I wager he had to learn that lesson repeatedly. Human nature so easily defaults to selfishness. And just as soon as Paul and his buddies would get a few weeks, clear of consistent beatings or an enemy breathing down their necks, they might have breathed a breath of relief and thought to themselves, "Whew, we weathered that one. Let's enjoy this hiatus," only to enter another cycle of persecution, even from their so-called brothers in Christ.
10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. (Philippians 4:10-14, NLT emphasis added)
Those weren't just physical needs Paul was referring to. He was in need of their support in every way. But when he didn't receive it, he had learned the art of contentment--through Christ.
The ultimate treasure of Loneliness Island is found in the revelation that He is enough--and we can be content with that.
What lessons have you learned or are you currently learning on Loneliness Island? Have you found its treasure? The ultimate treasure of Loneliness Island is found in the revelation that He is enough--and we can be content with that. Discovering the treasure doesn't mean we switch gears and determine to not need anyone but God or authentic connection with sisters in Christ. We were made in God's image and even He acknowledged His own desire for authentic connection. He created man. Then He created woman. And then He proved His faithfulness for centuries through a messy menagerie of drama starring an unfaithful people.
God designed us for connection; yes, connection with one another. And yet, the greatest of all connections is a relationship with God Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. What a friend we have in Jesus.
The Treasure of Loneliness Island is ENTRY THREE in this month's series, Life on Loneliness Island. What is a lesson you have learned in a season of loneliness? Let us hear from you by commenting below or joining the conversation on one of our social media platforms.
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, and her husband, Chresten, have been married and in full-time ministry for 21 years. 20 of the 21 years have been spent in evangelistic work, both stateside and overseas. The couple has two beautiful blonde babies--ages 14 and 9--and base out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many ministry wives Bridgette often feels like a red flag on the tug-of-war rope with the children on one end and her husband and the ministry on the other end! When she finds time for personal hobbies, Bridgette enjoys entertaining, blogging, singing, browsing the local antique shops, and sipping on a cup of hot tea for a few precious quiet moments. Her heart is to lead others to the authentic presence of God--through worship, through Word, and through one-on-one connection.