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I Pray This Encourages You As It Did Me Today

This is from A.W. Tozer "The Dwelling Place Of God," Chapter 39, "The Saints Must Walk Alone." I read this earlier today. The chapter spoke to me clearly and gave me a deeper understand of what loneliness means in our christian walk. It helped me with my feelings of loneliness which I had been reflecting on today the eve of my birthday. I pray this encourages you as it did me today. (Partly paraphrased to achieve greater clarity)

Most of the world's greatest souls have been lonely. loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness. Enoch walked with God, and God took him. And while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path, quite apart from his contemporaries. Another lonely man was Noah, who found grace in the sight of God. And every shred of evidence points to the loneliness of his life, even while surrounded by his people. Abraham had Sarah and Lott, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story without sensing instantly that he was a man whose soul was like a star, and dwelt apart. As far as we know, not one word, did God ever speak to him in the company of men. He communicated face down with God. He heard the voice of God, and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor. Moses also was a man set apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks, while far removed from the crowds, he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting, and came to the rescue of his countrymen. After his break with Egypt, he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There while he watched his sheep, alone, the burning bush appeared to him. And later on, at the peak of Sinai, he crouched alone to gaze at the presence of God, partly hidden, partly disclosed within the cloud of fire. The prophets of Pre-Christian times differed wildly from each other. However, one mark they bore in common was their forced loneliness. They loved their people, and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of solitude and heaviness. “I have become a stranger unto my brethren, as an alien unto my mother's children.” (Psalm 69:8) cried one of the prophets as he spoke for all the rest. But most revealing of all, His loneliness, Jesus’ lonely way to the cross, His deep loneliness in the presence of the multitudes.

Tis' midnight, and on olive’s brow. The star is dimmed that lately shone; Tis’ midnight; in the garden now, The Suffering Savior prays alone. Tis’ midnight, and from all removed The Savior wrestles lone with fears, E’en the disciple whom He loved Heeds not his Master’s grief and tears. (William B. Tappan)

He died alone in the darkness, hidden from the sight of mortal man, and no one saw Him when He rose triumphant and walked out of the tomb. Though many saw Him afterward, and bore witness to what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but God’s to look upon. Oh, I am not lonely. Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. And lo, I am with you always.” How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me? Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true, rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by Christian society. The sense of companionship, which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly Christian people. Always remember, you cannot carry a cross in company. Though the man is surrounded by family and friends, his Cross is his alone. His carrying of it marks him as a man, set apart. Society has turned against him, otherwise he would have no cross to carry. No one is a friend to the man with a cross, “they all forsook Him and fled.” The pain of loneliness arises from the desire for human companionship which is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away even from the fellowship of good Christians, as well as from the unregenerate world. His God-given instinct cries out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ. Even our Lord Himself suffered the same way. The man is afforded a certain amount of social fellowship as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find, and he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim. And the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the Garden of his own relationship with the Lord and who but God walks there with him. The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and to ask no portion or share for himself. He delights, not to be honored, but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His glory is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest. In this very loneliness it throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek God. He learns in his inner solitude, what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is all in all, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in him we have and possess life and life abundant. The two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a “holier than thou,” he is likely to feel that he is the least of all men, and is sure to blame himself for his loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others, and to open his heart to some like minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it. So he remains silent and tells his grief to God alone. The second thing is that the lonely saint is not a withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the brokenhearted, and the fallen, and to the sin bruised. Because he is detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. If he should find himself in prayer and happens to remember that a poor widow needed food. He would break from prayer instantly and go care for the widow. After, he will take up again his prayer where he left off, and the Lord will make it up to him. The weakness of so many modern Christians, is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their efforts to achieve restful adjustment in this unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent by God to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.


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