Last Friday I spent an amazing day with my honey in Great Falls. We were not there for any special occasion; we were not celebrating a certain anniversary, or birthday, or anything like that. Honestly, we were in town to get groceries. It was definitely not a “romantic” or celebratory trip at all, haha! However, I had the best day!
Just after we arrived in Great Falls, I reached over and touched Lonnie’s arm as he was driving and said, “I’m so happy to be spending the day with you in Great Falls. I’ve been lonely for you.” Those words, as they were escaping my lips, struck my heart in a very unexpected way.
For those of you reading this that do not know my husband and me, we are very close. We have been together since 1987 and married since1994. He is my best friend. We are together all the time, whether it be at a basketball game, watching TV in the living room, or even just out and about buying groceries. Every day during his lunchtime at work, he calls me just to see what’s going on. Our days do not change much and you would think we would not have that much to talk about, but we end up visiting so long that I am sure he ends up scarfing his lunch down very quickly just to be finished in time to go back to work! We spend his days off together 24/7. Occasionally, one of us may go on a weekend trip with friends, but those trips are few and far between. And though I love my girlfriend time, I never have as much fun as I do when I’m with my honey! The point I am trying to make is this: it seems odd that I could possibly get lonely for this amazing man that I spend almost every waking hour with and when I’m not with him, he’s on my mind, we are texting one another, or we are talking on the phone!
Our lives have been a bit hectic lately. Basketball season has just ended and that is always a busy time for us… a “good” busy for sure, but busy none-the-less! Our evenings seemed to be shorter during the week, especially the weeks our boys had late practice. Our weekends had been consumed by travelling to near-by towns for basketball or enjoying home games in our little town. Again, we were still together the entire time. Now that our boys are both in high school, we never have to split up to attend two separate games as we occasionally did when one was in middle school. During the past four months, it just seemed we really did not share much “down-time” with each other.
So, back to my statement about being lonely for my honey… as I said those words, it immediately struck my heart that Jesus gets just as lonely for us. He is with us every minute of our life, He is there as we sleep, He is there as we awaken each morning. He is by our side throughout the day and amidst all of our busyness. As we go to bed every night, He is there with us. Each of us that know the Lord is the residing place for Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14 tells me that He is my leader. John 16:13-15 tells me that He is my Indwelling Guide. In John 14:17, Jesus names Holy Spirit as our Counselor and the Spirit of Truth and says He “lives with you and will be in you”. Jesus tells us in John 14:26 that Holy Spirit is a teacher: “He will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
As amazing and comforting these Words are to my soul, they are also sad to me when I consider my own actions. I am very aware of my own personal battle with distraction … it has been a challenge for me most of my life. I also tend to procrastinate whenever possible. One of my most favorite “jobs” I have ever had in my life is that of being a wife and a mom. I take it very seriously and love serving my family. However, I tend to focus on it too much most days and it almost becomes a distraction at times. I absolutely LOVE to study God’s Word. I have found more life, and comfort, and peace, and joy in the Bible than I could ever have imagined… surely more than I could put into words. However, as odd as this may sound, I have had periods in my life where I know my studies are getting in the way of my relationship with Jesus!
And that is what “it” is all about right? We hear and we say things like, “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.” I wonder if we consider that statement. It is for sure a true statement, and I am the first to admit the many, many aspects of religion that I detest! But we talk of this relationship and often take it for granted all in the same breath!
We have the ultimate Comforter, Teacher, Guide, Counselor, and Leader with us every minute of every day. He is God, living IN us! He loves us way more than we are able to understand with our finite minds. He is not with us to condemn us, but rather to convince us that we need the love of Jesus in our life. He is with us to talk about everything! I remember a time when I was very new to the things and ways of the Lord. I had a girlfriend who was a more mature Christian than I, and just about every day, we talked on the phone. No matter the subject we were sharing, it ALWAYS came back to the Lord. I learned so much during that time. After a season of this activity, I could sense that it was coming to an end. I remember asking God why, explaining to Him that we always talk about Him. I distinctly remember His response. “Tracy, if you want to talk about Me, talk TO Me!”
Being a stay-at-home mom and homemaker has brought many blessings, lessons, and trials. But the best thing of all is that it has taught me to talk TO the Lord. People, I talk to Him about everything! Nothing seems to be off limits! I talk to him about trivial things such as my hair! Of course I talk to the Lord about the “big” things, from racism and world leaders, to raising my boys the way He would have me do. I sing to Him occasionally, which may not be a blessing to Him… haha! Just kidding, but really, I should not sing! I dance with Him. I tell him my corny jokes. I tell him of my frustrations and hurts.
There are days, however, that I do not talk to my Lord. These are the days when honestly, I probably need Him the most! I get too busy. That is a sad statement, and I cannot even say it is a true statement… it feels like an excuse. I get too wrapped up in a problem or frustration. This is absolutely when I do need Him the most, and though it makes no sense at all, it seems these times I am the quietest with Him. If there are days that I do not feel good physically, I tend to rely on my blanket and TV to comfort me. I think that is the saddest statement of them all! After a few days in a row of just saying goodnight to God, thanking Him for His blessings, and realizing I did not talk to Him at all that day, my spirit is more lonely for Him than I can stand. It is then that I am hit with the reality that I have been “off course” and relying on myself. I am so thankful to serve God, who is always forgiving and understanding. I am even more thankful that He never leaves me, even when I am ignoring Him. I remember days earlier in my relationship with Jesus when I would feel guilty about one thing or another and would “steer clear” of the Lord. Those too, were silent days on my part. But never, ever did Jesus turn and walk away. He stayed right by my side, coaxing me back into his loving, forgiving arms!
Relationships take time and energy, to say the least. I want to share something with you that I found in the book Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler:
The name “Immanuel” first appears in Isaiah 7:14 as part of a prophetic word that Isaiah spoke to King Ahaz of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) at a time when Syria and Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had formed a coalition against Assyria. The prophet Isaiah counseled Ahaz not to join in their uprising against Assyria, the region’s greatest power, assuring him it would not succeed. He urged Ahaz to trust in the Lord rather than to appeal to Assyria for help against Syria and Israel, who were threatening to invade Judah for not joining their uprising. Then he invited Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign to confirm the prophetic word, but the unfaithful king refused, having already decided to place his trust not in the Lord but in Assyria.
In response to Ahaz’s refusal to trust God, Isaiah proclaimed: “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of human beings? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”
I am left feeling astonished after reading that! In the face of direct and purposeful disobedience, God makes one of the greatest promises ever! I remember thinking the first time I read this in the Bible that as Isaiah was “proclaiming” this to Ahaz, a judgment would surely follow. If you keep reading, it does indeed. But, it is proceeded by the promise of the Savior! And what did God say His name would be? Immanuel. In Matthew 1:23, we are told that the name Immanuel translates to “with us is God”. At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” When God initially promised His Savior to a people that were in disobedience to Him, He knew of the bondage that was coming in their lives. At that time more than ever, they needed a promise that would bring them hope. God never fails!
During this time in Israel’s history, as well as many times in my very own life, I can see our loving Father God saying, with tears in His eyes, “Okay, go then. Do what you will. But it will bring sorrow, pain, captivity, bondage… it is not good. I only want the best for you… but if you must, then go, do what you will. I am still going to be your God… you are still going to be my people. I WILL be with you, I will come to you—to be with you—in the form of a child borne of a virgin. I will not leave or forsake you.”
People, God has got His part of this relationship down! He is so faithful and trustworthy! We must not forget or get too busy or distracted to remember that He has established this amazing relationship with us! He desires to visit with us, to hear our hopes and dreams, to calm our fears and ease our frustrations. He is with us to guide our every step, to comfort every trying emotion as well as celebrate with us our joy! He IS peace and He IS with us!