We all come into this world and we leave the world in an emotional situation that can best be called loneliness unless we are prepared for it. This weekend I was talking to a young girl who grew up in this church and she’s in a secular university and she said you know in class the other day nearing a weekend and somebody stood up and said hey we’re going to have a party this weekend at this house and you’re all invited. It’s going to be a fun time. We’ll have wine and we’ll have some safe drugs there. We want you all to come. And raise your hand if you’re coming so I know how much to prepare. One hand did not go up. This young girl said it was my hand and they looked and said Janet aren’t you coming? And she said I stood up and said no I’m a Christian. And I don’t do drugs or alcohol. I can’t do that. And she said a chill went across the room. Heads went together, whispers, laughter and not a single person in that room talked to me after I made that statement. She said I am so lonely. What am I going to do?
Where does loneliness come from? It comes from standing up for your values when you know it’s not going to be respected by power people around you. It comes from there. On the opposite side it comes from guilt. Things you did you know you shouldn’t do and you’re living with it secretly hoping nobody finds out. It’s got a lot of you tied up secretly because you have a mission and you want to achieve something and you’re going somewhere but you don’t dare to tell anybody; they’d not help you. They’d be jealous. Loneliness: we live with it from birth to death. From birth we’re born alone. Yes, and it’s in your ambitions, it’s in your moral decisions. You face it in a career, at school. Moral decisions, oh ambitions, lonely in success. If you make it you can’t go out and talk about it. You’ll be marked a braggadocio. You have live with your success all alone and not be able to share the joy or failure. You don’t want to admit your failure. Probably for good reasons but maybe you should face it, I don’t know, but loneliness: it’s a part of life, the opening of the last word of living you’ll be running into loneliness.
Loneliness and sorrow: oh the funeral was great, people were so kind to you and you kept getting calls for another week. But then the calls stopped coming and the next month you didn’t get a single call, but you were in grief, in sorrow as much as you were the day of the funeral. Loneliness and sorrow. Loneliness in trying to find God’s plan for your life. You claim to believe in Him, you are a believer and you’ve prayed for wisdom but you still don’t have the answer. Loneliness in the searching, oh in the goal setting.
Where does it come from? It is a unique human creature experience. It’s very unique; makes us human. Why? Because as humans we are designed to make decisions. We are designed to make personal, private commitments. We are accountable for our individuality. And God doesn’t ask those around us, He just talks to us maybe in the conscience. Wow! One thing you don’t want and that’s to be embarrassed. Shamed and disgraced or laughed at with people with twisting eyes or twitching lips talking about you. You don’t want that so maybe the best thing is to play it safe and not go for what you want to do and just live with your secret dreams, loneliness. You know why we are that way? We were created with that compulsion because that’s the inner call to a higher spirituality that wants to connect with us. The spirituality is called God.
Yes when Adam and Eve did their own thing and they were let out of the Garden of Eden, it really hit them because they were created to create children, all of them parents and children and the race that would develop would be humans who need to encourage each other, support each other, help each other. God created us to be connected not disconnected. When Adam and Eve got out of the garden they were suddenly disconnected with themselves, with the almighty and disconnect produces discontent. Remember that. Disconnect produces discontent. Call it loneliness. It’s because God created us to be gregarious creatures born with an instinct to have fellowship and a sense of community with other humans. Yes but we will be born alone. We will die alone but I’ve got good news for you this morning! You don’t have to die alone and you will not die alone if you connect with the power you’re disconnected with and that’s God. With the human being it’s not just being bones here and blood but we are soul, we are a spirit, we are a personality. Yes the forces will come and there will be conflict. You back away, you look for a safe corner, you look for a quiet place behind a wall or on the other side of the room.
So in stresses come. You look for a safe place. How do we handle? It happens in all levels of life. Yes, I think the answer is a lot in a sentence that I read first in Dr. Glasser, one of the great psychiatrist’s of the past century wrote a powerful book called Reality Therapy. Arthur Glasser had a sentence that I have memorized and learned and never forget it is: We all need one essential friend. Oh every human needs one essential friend. It’s got to be someone who we can trust with our darkest and our deepest secrets. Not easy. It may or may not be our spouse. But I think everybody can be helped if they find the one essential friend that I have and His name is God, Jesus.
Yeah, I believe in God. In fact it’s this universal compulsion to the possibility of loneliness that is almost a proof of a God to me. It’s God calling out through my loneliness ‘come to me; I’ll be your friend. That’s why you’re lonely. I created you that way so you’d call to Me and let Me embrace you and hug you and you can believe in Me.’ Wow! Jesus who came to this earth said it; “I will be with you always.” Think of that. You embrace Jesus in your mind, in your heart, in your soul and there is a human being who lived and died two thousand years ago who said “I will be with you always even to the end of the ages.” You can feel His presence here.
One of the ministers who influenced me so much in my life, some of you knew him, he was a pastor with me here for many years, was named Dr. Raymond Beckering. And he tells the story when he was a minister in Chicago, he got a call from one of the women that attended his church regularly. Her husband was a famous medical doctor, a prominent scientist and an atheist. She said “My husband just had almost a fatal heart attack, Dr. Beckering, would you go to the hospital and make a call on him?” So doctor called and said yes.. Beckering said “yes, I will.”
He thought to himself as he drove to the hospital, and went up the elevator to the room, what am I going to say to him? He doesn’t respect me. He’s an atheist. And he came to the door and prayed dear God what in the world will I say. He opened the door and the man saw him, immediately recognized him and said “Dr. Beckering, I’m so glad to see you.” It shook him up. Dr. Beckering approached the bed, famous doctor looked up and said “Dr. Beckering since I’ve been a patient here I’ve had a revelation. The revelation, Dr. Beckering is it’s not what you do in life that counts it’s what you are. I’ve done a lot. But I’m not the person I should have been.” It’s not what you do but who you are. And that led him to become a Christian. Fantastic Christian. That’s the beginning of finding a cure to loneliness. Your life will never be the same.
And then what? Well, it may be sort of like my brother Henry. I’ve only one brother, and I was home with him for the burial of his wife recently. And he and his wife never had children. She went to college, he never did. He was fighting in the World War II, baring litters, broken bodies in pieces of bodies. That’s where he came from. Anyway, I expected about 15 to 20 people because he’s 92 and the older you get the fewer people come to your funeral. That’s the truth. They’re gone. And the young people that are in the center of life never lived your life with you. So I expected about 22 people. The church seats, maybe 200, I don’t know. I thought except for the front two pews, but each side of the church was full. My brother Henry. Some would say he was just a farmer, don’t use the word just. Cut the word just out of your life. Don’t ever say I’m just this or I’m just that. Cut that word out. People will put you down but don’t put yourself down. He was a farmer. And here they came. And he was noticed immediately because probably the first man 92 years of age, walking with a cane that helped become the casket bearer, one of the pall bearers. Six pall bearers, all young nephews, but one old man was a pall bearer at 92 with a limp and a cane; it was my brother Henry. Never saw that before. He said “that’s the last thing I could do for her.” That’s my brother. We were taught this value in our faith as Christians in a good family. And I’m so thankful to God that our family, our five children, our 19 grandchildren, are all getting that same faith and holding to it.So oh Henry was known and there was a long line up to give their greetings to him. He would call on people in the hospitals. He would make telephone calls to friends. He was just a wonderful guy! And everybody wants to meet wonderful guys like that. You can be one. Most of you, I suspect, are. What it means is you find one essential friend who shapes you and makes you like you want to be.
So today, choose. I invite you to become a Christian if you are not. Now for many people that is a very difficult thing to do. You’ve never been exposed to the possibility, didn’t come from that kind of a family. You came from intellectual background but no faith, no super naturalness at all. How do you become a Christian? I have observed studying this for over fifty years how people who come from a non-religious background are able to connect with God and become believers. Almost every time it starts with what I call the big if. Oh what’s that? The big if. I don’t care how negative you are. You can still say the word if. And when you say the word if that’s an amazing opening of the other parts of your brain to receive and hear and listen to concepts that you never considered seriously at all. I can’t tell you how many people when I asked how did you become a believer and they were watching this program on television or another program or sitting in this church and they said I couldn’t handle my life anymore the way it was. Loneliness I couldn’t live that way. Disconnected. I finally said in my despair, Dear God if You are there and if You are real and if You are alive and if You know me, if You’re there will You help me? I need a God heal. And then they would always say something happened.
When I opened the door to the possibility of being willing to become a believer that I had never been, things changed. Of course so if I’m talking to somebody today and you don’t believe in God or you don’t know He’s real use the big if. Talk to God, talk to Jesus. If you can’t picture God and I can’t really picture God the Father and that’s why He sent Jesus. I can picture the man called Jesus in the Bible, yes. I’ll say Jesus if You are the son of God and if You died on the cross to save me from my guilt and sin and if You can embrace me and be my one essential friend until I cross the border and see You standing waiting for me at the other side, Jesus if You are what they say, I embrace you. I become a believer. Hallelujah, amen.