“The Exchange: Lonely to Never Alone”

At Gateway Church in Austin, we kicked off our series: “The Exchange.”  John Burke shared about an exchange from lonely to never alone at the McNeil campus. I shared at the South Campus.

You can watch the message John shared at the McNeil campus at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.

You can listen to the message I shared at South Campus here:

Here are some resources for this week as well as the upcoming themes for the series:

Sept 7 | From Death to Life – (Next Steps) (Leader’s Guide)
(What’s Next If I Want To Follow Jesus?)
Sept 14 | From Despair to Hope  (Next Steps) (Leader’s Guide)
Sept 21 | From Lonely to Never Alone (Next Steps) (Leader’s Guide)
Sept 28 | From Striving to Satisfied
Oct 5 | From Guilty to Blameless
Oct 12 | From Powerless to Empowered

If you’re not connected with a Life Group, now is a great time to jump in as we head into the Fall. Our Life Groups will dive deeper into this profound transformation God offers us and discuss the practical difference such change makes in our every day life.

Here are some of the notes from our message:

All of us know what it’s like to feel lonely. Henry Nouwen says at the root of our loneliness is a deep seated suspicion that there’s no one who really cares.  The fear gets reinforced every day:  through little rejections, sarcastic comments, overheard gossip, flippant remarks, a cold shoulder. Ironically, our fear of being lonely drives us deeper into loneliness.

God wants us to learn to face our fear of loneliness because when we don’t face it, it causes problems in our lives.  What we often do with our loneliness is we seek out cheap connections to mask the deep-seated fear.

When we become children of God, we can choose to exchange our loneliness for never being alone.

The secret to relieving our loneliness is not found in being together, but in first learning to be alone. Without learning to be alone with ourselves and God, our relationships quickly become needy and greedy, manipulative and clingy, exploitative and parasitic.  When we are not spiritually full people looking to give, we become empty people looking to take.

We want community. We want people around us who will relieve our fear of being hurt or used, people who will love us for who we are.  We also want to make an impact in life – to be useful and needed by others.  We think if we can find these, we won’t feel lonely.  Actually, it’s backwards. These things come as a result of learning to be alone with God. When we face our fear of being alone, and learn to be quiet and alone with God then we can find fullness to connect in love with others, and give and serve without having to take.

“Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Psalm 46:10-11  

This is the answer to our loneliness. We need to realize that God is with us.

You may feel lonely, but you are NEVER ALONE!  If you have put your trust in God, you are never alone even when you feel lonely.  What we really need is not just to hear this but to actually BE STILL – to be quiet, undistracted, not anxious, not talking, not reading, not planning, and just be alone with God until you experience His presence – to know Him in an experiential way.

This was the secret to Jesus’ whole way of life.  Scripture says, But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Luke 5:16  Jesus made it a habit to spend time alone with God.  It was of first priority to Him.  He needed it first in order to then connect and minister to others effectively. Jesus began his years of ministry by going into the desert alone for 40 days.  If JESUS needed 40 days alone in preparation, then you and I could certainly benefit from one or two hours alone-or even 30 minutes a day, before we try to connect with others and be useful to mankind.

There is this progression of life that Jesus modeled that we need to imitate—not only to cure our loneliness, but to be all God intended us to be:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. – Luke 6:12-19

Jesus began in solitude. Jesus was SO busy with people clamoring for him to meet their needs from morning until bedtime at this point. Jesus made time alone with God His first priority and then He moved into community. Then together in community, they served and gave to meet the needs of the world around them.

The exchange God promises: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” –  Jeremiah 31:3

Jesus said:  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”  John 15:9”

 

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