And yet... I find myself lonely. All the time. But it has nothing to do with "being alone" and everything to do with "being other". There aren't many who are like me. Who else strives after God? Who else seeks to find Him? Who else studies, as well as reads, their Bible? Who else reads old-timey preachers? Who else gets excited over personally owning an actual hand-written page of sermon notes by Charles Spurgeon? Who else listens exclusively to Christian music? Who else prays on a daily basis? Who else CARES about Christ like I do?
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that my loneliness isn't so much to find common ground with someone about Christ, either. I also feel alone in church settings. I feel alone among other Christians. Even they are not like me. I suppose I have a certain mindset - I want to worship and adore Christ. I don't want to be superficial. I want to be all in, I want to pursue God with my whole heart. I want to dive in, head first, and never emerge from God's Living Water. I want to plumb the depths of the Bible. I want to explore the heights of Heaven. I want to know Christ as I am known, I want to soar up on wings like eagles. I want to run and not grow weary. I want to be genuine, I want to know the length and width of grace. I want to walk as He walked.
But no matter what church I go to, it is all "surface". Talk of tithing abounds. For a good chunk of the service. Worship is loud and the songs are repetitive. Bible translations closest to the original Hebrew and Greek are overlooked for more happy-go-lucky translations with modern slang and idioms that dangerously water down the Word of God. It's iffy if the pastor actually went to seminary, and the sermons are more like self-help seminars than expounding Scripture. If you actually find a church that exposits Scripture, there is no depth to the teaching like Spurgeon or Whitefield used to preach. Where are these anointed preachers like the men of old? They were only men, after all.
This loneliness within me is more like a hunger. I am ravenous for...something. For the longest time, I didn't know what I was hungry for. I felt empty no matter where I looked. I thought perhaps I was lonely for a Christian friend. Perhaps hungry for better worship. Or more solid teaching. I realized my loneliness was due to the fact that not only am I unlike those around me, I'm also unlike fellow Christians. Why? We worship the same God, the same Christ. And yet, they don't hunger for the same things I do.
I believe it is because the Church is stuck in adolescence. No longer are "Bereans" the norm in our churches today. It is very rare to find a mature Christian who's grounded in sound doctrine, much less one that looks up a teaching in the Scripture to see if what the pastor says is true. I say this because things that seem very natural to me always amazes others when I speak of them. Elementary things, like our sins exchanged for Christ's righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Resurrection of the Saints (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The fact that we're kings and priests of God (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10). And salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8).
I'm no learned theologian. I'm just a woman who reads my Bible and prays a lot. I also read a LOT of old sermons, because I collect them. There's a certain something about them that I cannot get enough of, what the old preachers called "unction" that seems to be missing from today's pulpit. It's as if these old sermons are perfumed with spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices... (Songs 4:14)
The more I thought about all these things, the more I realized I am lonely for Christ. I hunger for Christ. I wander around, looking for His fragrance, searching for His countenance, but He is elusive, like a young stag upon the mountains of Bether. One might find Him within in an individual believer, but the Church at large seems to have drifted from her First Love in favor of whatever Spiritual gift they might receive. Signs and wonders are the flavor of the day, not what Christ has done, what He is doing, and what He has yet to do. Experiences and tradition trumps the Word of God and Bible studies are few and far between. The focus is on blessings, not on the Blessed One.
O, Lord, what must it take for Your Bride to gaze upon you as the Chiefest among ten thousand? When will the Spirit and the Bride shout, "Even so, come Lord Jesus"? Fan a flame in us, Yeshua, ignite our hearts for Your glory. Elevate our view of You, high and lifted up, and allow Your spouse to clearly see, know, and love her Beloved.
I want to breathe Heaven's air, I want to look into Heaven's eyes, I want to hold Heaven's hand. I want to live the abundant life and experience Heaven on earth. I strive for this through my own prayer and study. But it pains me that others don't do the same. I have a sensitive soul, and it hurts to know fellow brothers and sisters are content in their plateaued level of maturity. I'm vexed that they don't seek more wisdom, that they don't seek God for the sake of seeking more GOD. My heart aches with the knowledge that they're only fooling themselves when they claim to love Yeshua with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, because His fragrance is not on their skin. His light is not in their eyes. How can we say we love Him if we don't act like we love Him?
Often, I feel like Jeremiah, crying out for the people to hear me. Christ is WORTHY. He is absolutely Glorious. I wish the entire world could see Him as I see Him.
I miss Him. Plain and simple. He's not gone from my life, in fact, Christ is at the very center of my life. My heart beats for the One who keeps my heart beating. But I miss Jesus in others. I've never met Spurgeon, but I miss his fiery zeal. I've never met Edwards, but I miss his resolve. I've never met Lewis, but I miss his wisdom. I've never met Tozer, but I miss his conviction. I've never met Bounds, but I miss his prayers. I've never met the Apostle Paul, but I miss his boldness. I've never met Mary of Bethany, but I miss her absolute adoration of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Only God can see the heart, it's true. But it is also true that if we spend time with Jesus people will recognize Him in us. Just like the face of Moses, we too shall glow. Pray for God to preserve you, to grow you, and to know you. Ask for Him to blossom your wisdom, your faith, and your love. Tell Him you want to shine the Beauty of Christ to others, and ask Him to teach you how to rejoice always and in all things give thanks. If we draw near to God, He shall draw near to us. How can we not want to get close and live within our Mighty Fortress? We were made for more than this! We are more than conquerors!
Brethren, do not allow the refined gold of your faith to become the tarnished brass of this world.