Dear Fellow Children of God,
Perhaps you noticed (or maybe you didn’t notice) that I did not write a devotion last week. I was in moose hunting camp from Thursday, September 3 until Saturday, September 12. So, with no computer, and a cell signal that was spotty at best, I skipped writing my devotion for a week.
I did not shoot a moose, even though I came home anyway. I saw quite a few moose. I even saw 2 bulls, but at a long distance. And, I had drawn a coveted “any bull permit.” The cows were responding to my calls, and I think that if I had stayed I would have finally had a chance to harvest an animal and provide much meat for my family and for others. We do like moose meat.
So, why did I return home if I didn’t have a moose? Well, for one thing, the weather was ugly. I think the only day I was in camp when it did not rain this year was on Saturday, September 5. Also, the wind blew many days, and I’m told moose don’t move much during the wind because it is difficult for them to hear predators in the wind. One day I woke up to especially strong winds. I arose at 5:30 a.m. to the sound of popping and banging, and worked to protect our tarp garage until about 1:30 in the afternoon. Another group of hunters told me that they lost 2 tents in the wind, and had to tie down their airplane to four 4-wheelers, even crawling into the plane, so that the plane did not blow over. That was quite a wind storm! The weather did not make hunting as pleasant as it often is. Ten days in the wind and the rain was wearing.
But, there was perhaps another reason I decided to return home. I guess you could say I got lonely. My hunting partner for 28 seasons has been Gerry Zellar. But Gerry was ill with symptoms of vertigo and spent only 2 nights in camp. Pastor Tony Schultz did come out two nights to hunt with me. He even commented that we had “solved all the problems in the world – if only others would listen.” So, I spent about as many nights in camp alone as I spent there with others. I came to realize that, as much as I enjoy the hunt, I enjoy spending time with others in camp as much or even more. We talk about the world around us. We share family joys and concerns. We read God’s Word together and pray together. My personal experience of moose camp has been a time of camaraderie and Christian friendship. That has been as important as the hunting.
At the same time I also missed my family. My wife, Kathy, was at home alone. My children and grandkids were living their lives in these crazy times. But, I was in camp alone, missing my friends and also missing my family. So, I decided 10 days was enough.
Did you know that loneliness may be the first problem addressed in Scripture? In Genesis 2:18, as God was creating our world, we are told, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’" God intends for people to live in relationship with other people. These relationships, including marriage, provide the opposite of loneliness. Healthy relationships provide companionship, friendship, even love.
But, God does not just provide us opportunities for relationships with other people. God tells us HE is with us. For example, consider when God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. The conversation following Moses’ call is instructive. “11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" 12 He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you,” (Exodus. 3:11-12). Then, when Joshua replaced Moses as leader of Israel, Joshua experienced doubts. The Lord encouraged Joshua. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Jos. 1:9) Our Lord is with us through the joys and trials of life.
We hear God’s same promise in the New Testament. As Jesus instructed His disciples concerning forgiveness he promised, “20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Matthew 18:20) And, as Jesus leaves this world and sends His disciples out to bring others to His saving love, He promises, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) Not only does God give us relationships with other people to keep us from loneliness, He is with us Himself, providing grace, forgiveness, and salvation. In fact, one of the names given Jesus’ in a prophecy in Isaiah 7 is “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
When the wind and rain of life blow in our lives we don’t have to face these storms on our own. God gives us family and friends who care for us, who listen to us, and who walk beside us. When the storms of life rage GOD is with us, especially in Jesus who came to this world to love us, to forgive us, and to save us.
Can you personally remember a time of loneliness? One of our Lord’s intentions for His Church is that we encourage and support one another. God helps us to be there for one another because, in Jesus, He is “God With Us.” With good friends and family we can face anything. With the Lord by our side we will not be overcome by anything. I personally thank the Lord for His presence through the storms of life. I thank God for family and for friends, especially for Christian friends.
How do you face times of loneliness?
A Child of God, Facing Times of Loneliness with Companionship Provided by God Himself,
P.S. Here are some pictures from moose camp. https://photos.app.goo.gl/S5N6as1rrdLpiGJYA
P.P.S. The day before I went hunting I happened to go fishing again. There had been a lot of rain. The water was high and fast. I caught no fish that day, but did see a beautiful rainbow. https://photos.app.goo.gl/wpG42pAgcUo3fNbN9
ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I am now retired from serving as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Palmer, AK. My weekly devotion was previously titled, "Thoughts from the Pastor." However, with life's changes I now call the devotion "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it. If you know someone else who desires to receive this message, have them e-mail me at email@example.com. I will include them on my distribution list. You can also view this message on my Facebook page.
HOWEVER, A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME WHY THEY ARE NO LONGER RECEIVING MY DEVOTIONS. Since I’m only sending these e-mails to people who ask for them, many are no longer receiving these messages. BUT, if you read this on Facebook and like to receive these devotions by e-mail, or if you know someone who would like to receive these devotions, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will add you to my distribution list.
Child of God
Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather
Pastor Emeritus, St. John Lutheran Church