Alone in the Crowd

“Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:16-17

Have you ever been among a group of people and felt distant, or somehow separate from them? Although you know and love them, and would normally prefer to be with them over most of the people you know, you feel almost like you don’t belong anymore even though you are warmly welcomed as part of the group. An undefined feeling like no other pervades your spirit, and you realize you belong somewhere else at that moment. In her book, Come and Dine with the King, my friend, Elaine Rumley, calls it the “Glass House Syndrome”. Being present, but feeling somehow separate.

When this happened to me recently, I realized I just wanted to be alone with God at that moment. As that all-too-familiar longing took hold of me, I began to wonder how Jesus must have felt. Agreeing to leave the glory and perfection of Heaven, He came to live as a man among people who were fully of the world. Oh, how He must have longed, at times, to escape the chaos and ugliness of sin around Him and take a mini-vacation back to Heaven! Perhaps that was why He so frequently went off by himself and prayed through the night?

I think the magnitude of what Jesus did is not only that He came to suffer and die through the betrayal, torture, crucifixion and death of that horrible day, but that for thirty-three years He lived separated from the perfection and glory of His Heavenly Home, away from His Father’s presence. How did He do it? How did He manage to love those around Him - even those who belonged to Him - while their hearts and minds were selfish, sinful, and world-focused? To me, that adds a whole new dimension to the depths of His sacrifice.

Jesus was completely focused on His mission to save and transform the lives of those the Father had entrusted into His care. I don’t think He had much time for self-indulgent walks along the Memory Lanes of Heaven. And the joy He experienced with each conversion, each life transformation, surely helped make up for the weariness he must have often felt when facing the overwhelming odds against Him.

Like Jesus, this earth is not our home, but in His grace, God has not given us a memory of Heaven to long for. Instead, He has given us the promise of Heaven to aspire to. I believe if we could remember what it was like to be there, we would be much less content to stay here. It is all part of His divine plan…to live fully in the moment and do His will, while remaining ever-mindful of His presence. When times get tough, remember His promises and press on, knowing that what awaits you is beyond your imagination. It is a fine line that is difficult to walk – living here, yet keeping our hearts and minds set on Him - but oh, the joy that will be ours when this life is done and we step into the Glory of His divine presence to receive His abundant rewards for our faithful labors!

Prayer: Father, thank you for the promise of Heaven and the gift of Jesus. Thank you so much for loving us and giving us the opportunity to serve You and know You while we live on this earth. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with an awareness of Your presence, even as You empower us to do Your will and accomplish what You have created us to do. We ask that as we work to accomplish Your will, You would give us glimpses of Heaven to encourage us along the way. We love You, praise You, and long for the day when we can once again be with You face-to-face, basking in the glory, splendor and majesty of our Heavenly home. Let Your will be done in and through us today in Jesus’ name, amen.

Additional Scriptures:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

"Do not love the world or anything in the world...For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world." 1 John 2:15-16

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” Matthew 17:17

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

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