Summary: Those who isolate themselves are without a shepherd and are wide-open to peril.
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do….
- Three Dog Night
As I was thinking about my message on isolation that well-known lyric sprang to mind.
I remember a time when I wasn’t just singing it….I was living it!
I was married at 18 years of age. My young wife had an idea of who I should. My in-laws had their idea of who I should be. My dad, who was also my pastor and mentor, told me who I was called to be. Everyone KNEW who and what I should be and I was busy trying to be everything to everyone. How could I be me? I didn’t know me. It wasn’t long before I found myself out of touch with all of them because I wasn’t being the “me” God created me to be. To be honest, with all the outside input and effort to be everything, I began to feel like nothing. I moved from feeling like nothing to feeling nothing, which as I discovered, was extremely painful. This “nothing” place of pain is the very place that isolation gains entrance into our lives. The enemy moves full-throttle to isolate us in our pain. We’re among the living but we no longer enjoy life. Imagine those with life-threatening immune deficiencies…living life in a bubble and unable to enjoy the scent of a rose. Isolated people are just that way. They no longer think about the happy times or what it was like to simply stop to “smell the roses.”
Recently, I received a call from a friend who said “I can’t believe he’s acting this way. I don’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to be around me or anyone.” I knew as soon as I heard those words that it was more than a spat or a dispute, it was a serious tactical assault from the enemy. I called my friend and left a message but he didn’t return my call. I would text my friend and he wouldn’t text back. My friend cut off the very people who loved him the most. This was not the open, loving, and loyal person I had to come to know and love. I remembered a similar pain. I could relate but I never had the chance to relate it to him. I identified with the pain he must be suffering and as his pastor, I began to consider the full-frontal, spiritual attack taking place in his life. Perhaps it’s similar to something you’ve encountered. Jesus encountered it!
Luke 4 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 3And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Jesus was 40 days without food! He was hungry! When was the last time you were REALLY hungry and passed? Ok…when was the last time you hadn’t eaten for 40 days and passed on a dinner invitation? Everything Jesus had been through assured Him of what He would gain if He would exalt what was written instead of what looked like the thing to do. When your mission is clear it gives endurance the extra push when needed. If you’re a parent…your mission is to train and protect your children so they have what they need in life. If you’re a teacher, you’re mission is to educate. Mine is to shepherd God’s people. People that isolate themselves, pull away and become scattered are as sheep without a shepherd.
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd…. Eze 34:5 The isolated are without a shepherd and wide-open to peril.
Remember, our fight of faith is compared to combat in an unseen realm. The enemy is tactical. His spiritual “modus operandi” runs parallel to combat procedure. First…cut off all communication and isolate the prisoner! If I could have communicated with him, I would have reminded him of God’s promise in trials. I would have helped him in any way humanly possible. But, encouragement isn’t possible without some form of communication…whether or not it’s in words, a touch, a deed…communication is vital to combat. I saw that he bought into the belief that he needed to be alone. My friend’s pain had become my pain but with the line of communication cut off, I wasn’t able to help him or to just be there for him. I’m still waiting for the day that my friend will reach out or he will allow me to reach in.