The overwhelming feeling I had during my crying jag was loneliness and isolation. I kept muttering (to God) about being so alone. I guess that's what I feel—though it would be hard to prove that it's real. I am surrounded by people who love and care for me. And God is right there beside me too. So, why do I feel so alone?
Usually the first step into a storm of trouble is losing our grip. We lose our grip on circumstances, relationships and habits. I can see how that has been happening to me. There are several circumstances in my life right now that, while not overwhelming in themselves, accumulate to make me feel helpless and out of control. I have some issues with my health (blood sugar); I have some issues with my job, and I have some anxieties about my future. Over the last months I've been losing my grip on those things and feeling less in control. Meanwhile, the relational attachments meant to stabilize me and reassure me that “all is well” even with the turmoil in my circumstances don't seem to be powerful enough. So, I lose my grip on them as well.
But I still wonder about this sense of isolation and loneliness. Why do I feel that way when I do have so many significant and committed relationships? I can think of only one ultimate answer. There is only one relationship that will really do the job in a storm. You know where I'm headed with this: it's Jesus.
As wonderful as my marriage and family are; as thankful as I might be for the friends and colleagues I have; as gratifying as it is to have vital ministries in the lives of so many people as a counselor, it all still pails in comparison to what I really need. It's the old “restless heart” issue. My heart will always be restless, no matter how many good things I might have, until it finds its rest in God alone.
Of course, this all begs a pretty important question. Just knowing all this doesn't make it so. Just knowing I need Jesus—and even just knowing he is there—isn't the same as feeling the everlasting arms. And that's really what I need right now: a sensory experience of his presence.
I've been doing a study on Bible meditation for my church and exploring the topic of intimacy with God in ways I haven't done before. There is no end to mystical and even bizarre discussions about how that happens. I'm not going to recount them here. But I will say that the only sure way to avoid some of the insanity is to have a Word-based approach to this. While we can meet God face to face and feel his loving arms (“Jesus hold me close, closer Lord to you, let the world around me fade away...”), we won't really know if that's what happening unless we meet God in his Word. It's the words that become vessels of that intimacy: the entrance of God's word gives light...
So, if I'm going to overcome this feeling of isolation and loneliness there is really only one way: I have to meet God in a more profound way, “behind the sacred page....”