Now, don’t get me wrong. I usually enjoy my aloneness. A lot. But yesterday, my lunchtime of peace and quiet took a different turn. I had my sandwich and chips packed. I drove to my familiar picnic spot –a mostly empty parking lot near where I work. I parked my car in front of a vacant field, rolled down my windows, and proceeded to enjoy a peaceful meal drenched in solitude.
But then I got lonely.
So I did what a lot of Christians do, I reminded myself that I’m not alone. God is always with me.
To put that truth into action I invited Jesus to join me for lunch.
Maybe there was a tiny part of me that was looking for something special to happen like a whisper to my soul reminding me that I am a child of the King. But none of that happened. I sat in my car, ate my lunch, and still felt alone.
He didn’t show up.
Maybe I shouldn’t say he didn’t show up. That might not be true. But I can say he didn’t show up the way I was thinking/hoping he would. So then I not only felt alone, but I also felt a little rejected, until…
Until I really gave some thought to what it would have been like to have Jesus slide into the seat next to me. As much as I want to think about us sitting there chatting like old pals, I’m pretty sure that’s not how it would go. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to talk at all, and my steering wheel might be poking me in the back because I’d be trying to kneel down from the driver’s seat. Oh! The driver’s seat. I shouldn’t even be sitting there. What was I thinking!?
The reality of having God sitting next to me in my car wouldn’t result in me not feeling lonely and having a good ole time. It would cause me to be scared stiff and not sure what to do. Not because he’s cruel and horrible, but because he’s so much more than I’ve let myself see.
I like to keep God in my own little box where he takes away my loneliness and makes me feel better when I’m down, but he’s God, not my own personal genie. He’s my creator, not someone I’ve created. Somehow I guess I’d forgotten that a little bit. I’d forgotten how big he is and powerful and scary. Don’t get me wrong. He is love too. Full of grace and mercy. But it’s a bigger kind of love than feelings can tell. It’s the kind of love that lets us sit alone in a car experiencing the aridness of solitude, so that we can get beyond ourselves and make new friends and reach out. It’s the kind of love that doesn’t fix stuff for us that we should be fixing for ourselves.
It’s the kind of love that wants us to grow up, take risks, and move beyond our childish picture of him doing what we want him to do when we want it. He’s not in a box. And although sometimes he does fill my heart with blessed peace erasing the vestiges of loneliness, it’s really not his job to make my life feel better.
I wanted God to join me for lunch because I was down, but instead he let me sit there alone so I could learn something.
Hey, maybe he did show up, after all