Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 23 (Beyond the Manger,Loneliness)

I am writing today from my parent's beautiful icy home near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I am writing today from my parent’s beautiful icy home near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5 NKJV

I love being with my family and friends. I love people. But you know what? I also enjoy being a lone. When I moved to Texas, 20 years ago, there was no texting or -email (that I knew of at least) and it took time to make friends. So, I would go to restaurants by myself, and bring a notepad and write hand written letters home, the kind that you mail with a stamp, to family and friends while I enjoyed my meal. However, soon I started making lots of friends in Texas, and so I had people to go dine with, and so the letter writing stopped.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, living in Tampa Florida now.  I was sitting at a stop light, looking at a nice restaurant on the corner, which for some reason reminded my of my letter writing days long ago. I decided, even though I have lots of friends I enjoy dining with here in Florida, that I kind of miss the days when I would go into a restaurant alone and write old fashioned hand written letters, so I did so!

I don’t feel lonely when I am eating by myself. I don’t feel lonely when I take a solo bike ride down the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. I don’t feel lonely when I enjoy a good book on a park bench near the beach. I know I have friends even if they are not right with me at the moment. I know they are just a call or text away. So what does make me feel lonely? When people misunderstand me. When people misjudge my motives and intentions. When that happens it does not matter how many people are around. If they don’t understand me, that makes me feel alone. Thankfully I have good friends who are very understanding. Still, I think there are moments in our lives when we at least “feel” like no one understands. That can be a very lonely feeling.

Jesus knows how that feels.

 Yet through childhood, youth, and manhood, Jesus walked alone. In His purity and His faithfulness, He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him. He carried the awful weight of responsibility for the salvation of men. He knew that unless there was a decided change in the principles and purposes of the human race, all would be lost. This was the burden of His soul, and none could appreciate the weight that rested upon Him. Filled with intense purpose, He carried out the design of His life that He Himself should be the light of men.  -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 92 

We can ease that loneliness by joining Jesus in His cause. When we lay aside our own ambitions and join Jesus in His ambitions,  we have fellowship with Him.  In Gethsemane, Jesus longed for someone to pray with Him. Everyone was too sleepy and tired to appreciate what was going on at the moment. Jesus freely excused their weakness and human flesh, while in His humanity He longed for fellowship and someone to pray with. Some one to understand and join in His sufferings. It is not too late. We can have fellowship with Jesus today, by appreciating His sacrifice and praying with Him for the salvation of others, so that His sacrifice will not be in vain.

Just a few days before Jesus’ death, a woman anointed him with perfume. This was not just any perfume. This perfume was very expensive and potent. Back in those days, people did not shower every day, and so the perfume was made to last for days to make up for that. This perfume was especially rich and potent. Just a few days later, Jesus was hanging on the cross. When the people jeered and mocked Him, and Jesus in His humanity was tempted to think that He was alone, He pushed his feet into the cruel spikes, the heave Himself up, so He could take a breath. As He inhaled He took in the aroma of the perfume poured all over Him just a few days earlier. The aroma reminded Him, there is someone who cares and understands! It eased His  human loneliness.

So today, our prayers and gifts for the cause of Jesus are an aroma that Jesus loves to breathe, knowing His sacrifice was not in vain. He is not alone. We have fellowship in His sufferings and in His glory, and He has fellowship with us!

Matthew 8; He Healed The Loneliness With His Hands

I am writing tonight just south of Beautiful Naples, Florida.

  

 

 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  Matthew 8:2-3

  

Have you ever really looked at your hands? Ever thought about your hands writing their own auto-biography? They have quite a story to tell. Think of all the places they have been. My hands? My hands have been frostbitten as they built a snowman. My hands have been burnt as I put them in the hot sand. My hands have shook hands with people at church in Seattle Washington and patted little kids on the head in Peru. My hands have handled a baseball right after Hank Aaron signed it. My hands have held the hands of a dying friend in Texas. My hands have held a baby just hours after it was born. (I wont tell you about the mess the baby made in hands and how the parents laughed.) My hands have held over 100,000 UPS packages, Kayak paddles, golf clubs and baseball bats, Bibles, friend’s hands, dirt, sand, rocks, footballs, baseballs, soccer balls too but I got a penalty for that.

 

Take a look at your own hands sometime. They have quite a story to tell. Hands are important. When Jesus healed the leper in Matthew 8 He used His hands. Now Jesus did not use His hands to heal the leprosy. He healed the leprosy with His words, “be thou clean.” Jesus used His hands to heal something else. You see the leper was banished from society including his family. No hugs from his wife or kids. No shaking hands with friends. Jesus healed the leprosy with his words, but when Jesus touched him with His hands He healed his loneliness.

 

Jesus wanted to heal the whole man. Jesus knew that for the man to be physically healthy he must also be emotionally and socially healthy. It was the same with Adam. Think about this, God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. Now at that point Adam had a relationship with God. But God made man so that he needed more than just God. Adam needed a community as well. God created Eve so together they could create a community to meet their social needs that not even God could meet alone. God created us to be a part of a social community and not just to be monks or hermits.

I also like the way Jesus healed the man immediately. I love what the Desire of Ages has to say about that: “The work of Christ in cleansing the leper from his terrible disease is an illustration of His work in cleansing the soul from sin. The man who came to Jesus was “full of leprosy.” Its deadly poison permeated his whole body. The disciples sought to prevent their Master from touching him; for he who touched a leper became himself unclean. But in laying His hand upon the leper, Jesus received no defilement. His touch imparted life-giving power. The leprosy was cleansed. Thus it is with the leprosy of sin,–deep-rooted, deadly, and impossible to be cleansed by human power. “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.” Isaiah 1:5, 6. But Jesus, coming to dwell in humanity, receives no pollution. His presence has healing virtue for the sinner. Whoever will fall at His feet, saying in faith, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,” shall hear the answer, “I will; be thou made clean.” Matthew 8:2, 3, R. V.  {DA 266.1} 

     In some instances of healing, Jesus did not at once grant the blessing sought. But in the case of leprosy, no sooner was the appeal made than it was granted. When we pray for earthly blessings, the answer to our prayer may be delayed, or God may give us something other than we ask, but not so when we ask for deliverance from sin. It is His will to cleanse us from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life. Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Galatians 1:4. And “this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” 1 John 5:14, 15. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.  {DA 266.2}