When Lonely: Don't do this...Do this.

Loneliness is both a reality we'll all face and an opportunity that has the potential to launch us spiritually. First, we need to call out those pretenders. There are three things that vie for our attention when we get hammered with a lonely heart. These three things promise the moon but simply can't deliver. 

1. Things: We could also call this "stuff". Things or stuff want us to reach into our wallet and try to purchase something to fill the void of loneliness. Even a shopping spree can dull the pain for a time, but then the pain of loneliness will return with even more power when the material buzz wears off. 

2. Noise: There isn't enough music or sit-coms to dull the pain of loneliness. Noise can be a distraction for an evening but when we head off to bed the silence within us can be overwhelming. For some, the noise of life has actually become our friend. But this friendship can never truly satisfy. It leaves us with a hollow sense of lifelessness. 

3. Fools: When loneliness hits us we are tempted to find almost anyone to fill us up. Some lonely people have wandered into marital commitments with fools. More of us have given away our heart, our deepest longings, and our wildest dreams, to a fool. Fools can dress up in church clothing, talk with authority, and even feign compassion. But the person who, out of their own insecurity, is willing to trade confidences to climb a ladder of approval is dangerous. Fools will also contrive stories to climb in authority. Don't be on the same ladder with a fool. The temptation to become "tight" too quickly must be squelched. Watch and wait. See if they've thrown others under the bus in the past and stay clear until trust can be gained over time. 

The bottom line: No single thing, no noise, and no fool can fill the void of loneliness. Take the time, I mean to carve out time, to cultivate a friendship with God when no one else seems to be there. The whole idea of new life is that, in Christ, we now have a "friend". God gives us prizes in disguise. Loneliness can be a bonanza – getting to know the greatest friend on earth. He has a vantage point like no other friend and he can overflow us with his presence. Yes, we need friends to fill us up. But let God touch our deepest needs, first!

John 15:15

EVENT - College and Work-force Single Adults: Nite-out with Karl & Junanne on February 23rd. Karl will be sharing the Big 3 questions every single adult should be asking themselves that will transform relationships. Come to 180Chicago.church this Sunday for more info.

Abandoned no more...

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Abandonment is one of the most hopeless stations in life. It's when we're alone that we're susceptible to any number of varied emotional attacks. When we've been abandoned by anyone, we are at risk to a paralyzing sense of hopelessness. But imagine what it must feel like to be abandoned by both your mother and father. This pain is beyond imagination and pushes the bounds of cruelty. It's with this level of loss that God shows just how powerful his love can be at this point of crisis.

If we understand the extreme ends of God's grace and ability to heal a broken heart, we'll more readily believe him for good things in our own life. So here's the extreme end of God's care for the abandoned. "For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in." What a God! Even if a mom and dad have thrown a child to the curb, God will take them in. This extreme picture was not just for the abandoned child, but also for anyone who feels they've been left alone or left for dead. These feelings of abandonment can afflict us even when we're surrounded by others. The soul that is empty and alone is often the soul that is busy and appears to not be hurting in the slightest. But abandonment is an emotion that afflicts both those in dark alleys and those in plush dwellings. The common denominator in abandonment is not stature, it's the status of our souls - do we feel like we are loved? 

Here we go. Just when we feel like we've reached a place that no one can reach us, we find three words, "but the lord". Yes, the lord God will take you in. He will take in anyone who calls out his name. God calls to the rich and the poor who have feelings of abandonment and says "I will...take you in". Do a "180 Now". Let the God of all love wash away the most extreme feelings of abandonment. Listen to the voice of God who simply says "come in". A surprise is in the making. What once seemed like an impossible loss, God will fill the void far better than the best parents ever could. His perfect love knows how to love us, coach us, release us, and throw us shouts of encouragement. Because of the love of God, you're abandoned no more.

Psalm 27:10