Chapter Nine - Loneliness Wears a Mask
The law of averages would support the fact that many reading this chapter are behind a mask of loneliness. You may be comfortable; you may be uncomfortable. Because loneliness does wear a mask, neither I nor the one next to you knows of your loneliness. Because of your poise and self-confidence, perhaps neither your husband or wife, at all times, knows your condition. If you are not lonely, don't just forget this chapter, but file it away in your mind for future reference.
Because Loneliness wears this mask, may we pray:
Our Father, we are grateful for the great Comforter, the Friend, we have in Jesus Who helps us in the hour of need, One Who stands in a state of readiness to aid us when we find ourselves lonely. Bless this chapter to our understanding, as it implements the true Gospel spoken and lived by Jesus. For this ve pray in His Name. Amen.
From Psalm 102:7 "I am as a sparrow, alone on the housetop." Or, the American Standard Version records: "I am like a lonely bird on the housetop." Or the Moffatt: "I am like a lonely bird on a roof."
We all, from time to time, have seen birds on housetops. Sometimes there has been only one. Maybe this bird thinks he is lonely, yet the Scripture declares that God watches over the bird. He feeds, He clothes; He knows the bird! If God knows that lonely bird, He knows you and He even more so. But, in our loneliness, we don't always recall that fact, do we?
The Scripture was: "I am like a sparrow, all alone, on the housetop." A visitor to a sheep farm noticed that a baby lamb had been separated from its mother. There was a great separation and a lot of confusion, but he fur. Cher noticed, by watching the Lamb, that it was placed in the same Large pen in which the mother had been placed. The little fellow gave its "baaing" noise. It was afraid. It was lonely, yet among many. Finally, after a lot of crying, the voice found a response in the mother sheep. She had heard the Sound of her baby amid all the confusion and turmoil in the pen on the sheep farm. Soon she was making her way across the lot to the sound of her baby. A very simple illustration - but, if the mother sheep could do that, what can God do In His omniscience) He sees us. He searches us out. He is as much aware of us as if there were no others in the whole world. As we find In Psalm 23:4, "I am with thee.' "I am with thee, God says, when you find yourself lonely.
Men see themselves in the middle of a great force where they cannot battle nor even, In a measure, understand or comprehend. At times, there is felt an overwhelming terror; there is felt a frustration and a conflict at every turn. But one of the great doctrines of the Church is the Omnipresence of God, which means that God is everywhere. Oh, the absoluteness of God in relation to His world order! We need never be really lonely) Though we wear a mask and think we are all alone, God is here. This, I say, is the absoluteness of God in relation to His world.
This means that He is everywhere present in space and time. He is in the office building near the roof; He is in the dormitory; He is in the bus; He is in the commuter subway. There Is no place where God is not, Now, Re is not the same in presence in a cactus as I-le is in a human person with a soul. There is a different reaction; a different response. There is a difference of His presence in a life uncommitted to Him, in comparison to a life committed to Him. For one, His presence means peace; for another, it means frustration and Conviction and even terror.
Before my two points: 1. Areas when the mask Is used, and 2. benefits when the mask is used.
Let us recall this great hymn of the Church - "Never Alone," the author of which Is unknown, but arranged by B.B. McKinney
"I've seen the lightning flashing, and heard the thunder roll,
I've seen sin's breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul;
I've heard the voice of Jesus, telling me still to fight on,
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
No, never alone...No never alone. He promised never to
leave me, Never to leave me alone;
No, never alone...No never alone. 11e promised never to
Leave me, Never to leave me alone.
The world's fierce winds are blowing, temptations are sharp and keen,
I feel a peace in knowing my Saviour stands between;
He stands to shield m from danger, when earthly friends are gone,
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
When in affliction's valley, I'm treading the road of care,
My Saviour helps me to carry my cross when heavy to bear.
My feet entangled with briars, ready to cast me down!
My Saviour whispers His promise, never to leave me alone.
No, never alone. No never alone.
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone;
No, never alone.
No never alone.
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.
This is the promise of the Living Christ today. This is the promise of this very hour in which you are reading these lines, First of all:
I. Areas When The Mask is Used
Keep in mind "Never Alone." In the routine of living the mask may be used. It may be in the daytime; it may be in the evening time. The other evening my daughter cried out in the darkness, "Mommy - Daddy, are you there?" We replied, "Yes, we are here." She evidently turned over and went back to Bleep.
I thought to myself of a similar experience of which I once read. A little boy looked Out the window at night into the darkness of the sky and cried, "God, are You there?" Unmistakably came the answer, "Yes," and the little boy went to sleep, knowing God was near. Whom need we fear, nor why should we be in a state of loneliness, if God, our Father, be with us?
This is where our faith is divorced from our practice. We shift our faith from God by placing our "eyesight" on the world; and, in effect, we are denying God.
In temptation we may wear a mask. (See chapter 14 on "Temptation") in affliction we may wear a mask. As parents we sometimes let our babies cry in the night. We are aware that they are safe and secure. We know that for the present time - it is best for them. In times of affliction and temptation, God hears our cry and is near and feels for us, though for our own good, He may hide His face and may not seem to hear. It is on occasions like Chis that we need to turn our hearts to Jesus. In illness we may find ourselves wearing a mask. (See chapter 13 on "Why did this happen to me?")
In the state of being afraid we may wear this mask of loneliness. A little girl was asked by her mother to go into Che bedroom and get a paper bag on the bed. But, seeing the room in darkness, the little girl became afraid and refused to go into the room, whereupon her mother explained to her that God was in the dark just like He was in the light. Hearing this, the little girl, ran into the room, victorious over fear. The same certainly is our Secret of mastering our state of fears or loneliness, whether we be children, young people, or adults-- at home or away.
When friendless, we should sing, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Yet, there is a message for us, and also a mission, for if we read, "A friend loveth at all times," and "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." "And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." This One, Jesus, is a personal friend, an intimate friend. Even when, as we read in Job 19, All my familiar friends have forgotten ¡ne," there is that One Who remains with us..that Unseen Friend. So, these are some areas in which the mask is used.
Jesus was aware of this mask during His earthly ministry. One day He saw a man working. His name was Matthew, He was a tax collector. He was alone, We can surmise that he was a very lonely man because of his position. Yet he was in contact with people throughout all the day. Everyone did not like him. Yet, Jesus came to him. His mask is removed, and he follows Jesus, "maskiess."
I think of the woman all by herself at the well. Her story comes to us from John 5. No doubt she has had a bad morning. She could haver been weighted down with problems - alone. Yet Jesus came and said to her, "If you draw and drink from this well, you will later become thirsty again, but if you drink of the water which I can give you, you shall never thirst again."
There was a woman who had been ill, for eighteen years. So sick was she that she could not straighten herself up, but was bowed together. Jesus saw her - I am sure, in a state of loneliness - and said, "Woman, thou art loosed from Chine infirmity." Then ¡4e laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight. The crooked mask was shattered, and a straight face of "glorifying. God" was seen. Yes, during the routine of living, during temptations, afflictions, a mask is used. Yet, "Never Alone" are we.
There are, however:
II. Benefits When the Mask is Worn
There are benefits. In fact, there are always benefits amid situations in Which we think that nothing good can come. When Jesus came to people who were alone, He expounded unto them. Mark 4:34, "And when they were ALONE, He expounded all things to His disciples." Reading the Bible when we are in such a state can benefit us.
Notice, also, He prayed. The words found in Luke 9:18 are ours: "And it came to pass, as He was ALONE praying...," This is a guide for us when Chis mask is placed - perhaps out of a necessity - upon our being. We can pray.
As pilots from time to time have to report in, perhaps. it would not be a bad idea if we, on our road of living, would tune in on our spiritual radio and "report" to our Creator. Once an hour, turning to Him; relaxing in Him; praying unto Him; trusting Him. We can let go of our tension and give ourselves completely Co His strength.
Sometimes a contribution can be made to the world. We can give a benefit to the world because of our mask. Fannie Crosby was .alone most of her life because of her condition of being blind; John Milton, Robert Stevenson, and others who were restricted and often alone, yet were great workers and made such a contribution to their world. Some of these, as can some of you, can understand Paul's words j II Cor, 12:9, Moffatt, with great understanding and meaning, "It is enough for you to have My grace; it is in weakness that My power is fully felt" ..."So I am proud to boast my weakness and then to have the power of Christ rest ing on me. It makes me satisfied, for Christ's sake, with weakness, insults, troubles, persecutions and calamity; for I am strong just when I am weak,"
III Benefits When the Mask is Used.
As a bird, alone on the roof - is our Society at one time or another, These words come from this context, (Psalm 102:1): "Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto Thee. Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily. For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so Chat I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop."
Alone as a bird on a housetop? No. "Lo, I am with thee." (Matthew 28:20). If we could only latch onto this great truth of the Church that so represents Jesus, "Lo, I AM with thee." Because of this, we can sing, "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God, Yes, the sparrow hath found a house, the swallow a nest for herself.,O Lord of hosts, my King and my God."
Enanuel means - "God with us," All of our days - days of sunshine, days of shadow; days of strength, days of weakness; days that are long, days that are short.
He was with the Prodigal Son, who in his state of loneliness, confessed his sin and returned to his father, The days soon came to pass when he was "No Longer Lonely."
On life's pathway I am never lonely, My Lord is with me, my Lord Divine, Ever Present Guide, I trust Him only,
No longer lonely, for He is mine,
No longer lonely, no longer lonely, for Jesus is the Friend of friends to me, No longer lonely, no longer lonely, for Jesus is the Friend of friends to me.
I shall not be lonely in my sorrow,
He will sustain me until the end;
Darkest night He turns to brightest morrow,
No longer lonely, He is my Friend,
I shall not be lonely in the valley,
Though shadows gather, I will not fear;
He has promised ever to uphold me,
No longer lonely, He will be near,
No longer lonely, No longer lonely,
For Jesus is the Friend of friends to me.
No longer lonely, no longer lonely,
For Jesus is the Friend of friends to me.
Let us pray:
Our Father, when we feel we are like the bird on a roof, all alone, may we have brought to our attention the words of Jesus, "Lo, I am with you." May we further hear the singing by angels of this hymn, "No, never alone." You have promised never to leave us, never to leave us alone. As a Christian individual, may this promise be claimed so that faith can be strengthened. As a lost individual, may the acknowledgment be made of sin, and the claiming of the friendship of the One Who sticks closer than a brother, the Saviour of the world, Above all, may the Consciousness be had of the ever-presence of the Living God, to comfort, bless, and sustain this reader. - Amen.
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