It’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Oh, I realize there are some which are more important, spiritually speaking. Why, just today, the social networks are abuzz with the correlation of John 3:16 with the statistics for a certain professional quarterback in a game which occurred over the weekend. I am reminded by the mild uproar that it is a verse (entirely apart from the additional hype of the fan club) which is one of the most life-changing in the Book in its perspective. That said, I still have my reasons for another favorite.
A couple of weeks ago, I related the circumstance of when I left home thirty-five years ago. It was an emotional time, with tears from my father; a first for me to my knowledge. What I didn’t do was to take you past that episode just a few hours and more than a few miles up the highway, and talk about my own tears. I was leaving my childhood behind, leaving my parents, my friends, my whole existence up to that point. In the excitement of preparing to go, that little detail had escaped me. I’m not sure if it was symbolic or not, but I remember, very vividly, stopping at the roadside park just past the state line of the great state of Texas, where I had spent my entire life up to that point, and sitting in my car with the tears coursing down my cheeks. I didn’t know why, but all of the sudden, I was alone.
The trip to that point had covered six hundred miles. Six hundred miles without anyone to hear me ask, “Did you see that? That was amazing!” Six hundred miles without anyone to ask me, “Are you tired? Would you like me to drive?” Six hundred miles without anyone to suggest, “Let’s stop for supper. I’m hungry.” The journey started with high spirits and hopeful purpose in the bright sunshine of the morning, but had dragged on until the dusk as the sun lowered to the western horizon on the left side of the roadway, with spirits flagging. Then darkness fell on the world and on the heart of this teenaged boy, as I realized that I was alone and on my own. Behind lay all that was familiar and comfortable; ahead lay the frightening unknown, and it stretched out just like the interminable highway in the darkness before me. I was simply…alone.
The years have flown past since then. There have not been many times of loneliness, and for that I am immensely grateful. I am painfully aware that I was not made to be alone. I don’t function well when I am alone. The Lovely Lady goes to visit friends with our daughter and grandchildren…I sit in the dark, quiet house and wait for her return. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Some would say that it is not entirely healthy, but I find that I need people around to function normally. When they are absent from my life, I get a little weird (yes, even weirder than is normal for me already) and unproductive.
So, at long last, we arrive at the short phrase which comforts me; those nine words which reassure me that God knows me. I guess it’s a bit presumptuous to think that He was meaning me specifically when He said the words, but they do describe me. In the first book of the Bible, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Sure, it describes most, maybe all of us, but I know who I am, deep inside. I am grateful for a Creator who also understands that I need someone, not necessary to interact continuously, but to simply be with me. I’m not foolish enough to think that this is true for me only, because it seems clear that we all have need of this companionship. Whether it is a spouse, or close friends, or even our parents and siblings, we are made to connect with other people.
I was reminded of this specific need tonight as we spent time with a young lady who was alone and more than a few miles from home. We enjoyed her company as much or more than she enjoyed ours. I don’t know why I should be surprised. But, I have to wonder how much better off this world would be if those of us who know what it is to have been alone, but aren’t any longer, would share a little of our time and ourselves with some who are lonely. It doesn’t cost much to sit and talk, or watch a movie, or even just drink a cup of coffee, together. It is not good for humans to be alone.
It might be that, had that first man known the trouble he was in for, he would have chosen to remain alone. I really doubt it. But, that’s probably a discussion for another day. Maybe, we’ll tackle it…together.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
(Mother Teresa of Calcutta~Albanian-born missionary and Nobel prize winner~1910-1997)
“Alone, all alone.
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here all alone.”
(Maya Angelou~American poet)