Not wanting to be alone

My daughter announced victoriously that she had “figured it  out!”

She called  to us from the top of the stairs, declaring her grand revelation like it was the epiphany of the century.

“I know why Andrew won’t stay in his own room at night!  He doesn’t want to be…..ALONE.”

She paused for a moment of true drama and waited for us to applaud her deep psychological assessment.

We thanked her kindly.  But, of course, the truth is we knew exactly why my son wanders from his bed at night, every single night.  He shuffles sleepily to a new place because he does indeed hate being alone.  No grand revelation needed.

He knows it,  too.  I encourage him every single night to stay in his own bed until morning and  he protests right then and there: “But I don’t like being by myself.”

He doesn’t like to brush his teeth alone, or go into the bathroom alone, or  play in his room alone, and he certainly doesn’t like  sleeping in his own bed and in his own room without anyone else with him as a comfort.

So he perpetually seeks a companion. “Come with me.”

It’s not always easy, being such a relationally focused little guy, when you’re the youngest kid in the family and the only boy.

I’m generally happy and content all by lonesome self.  The quiet of “alone” is my comfort.

But my son reminds me to draw in, to invite, to be near, and to value the companionship and comfort of others.  He reminds me to look  to Jesus, to value and treasure how Christ didn’t keep us at a distance, but instead invited us in.  So, now, we never truly “go alone.”

Jesus  said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened” (Matthew 11:28 CSB).  He called to a tax collector, to a group of fishermen:  “Follow me” and to the rich young ruler, Jesus said the same, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4, 9, 19).

Jesus is inviting.

Charles Spurgeon writes,

“The nature of the old covenant was that of distance…in sacred worship both at the tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always prominent” (Morning  and Evening, 9/15).

Even when Moses climbed up that holy mountain to meet  with the Lord, there was a distance and separation there.  God said,“Do not come closer…Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”  (Exodus 3:5).

This distance from God—-could I  have endured it?  All day, as I wash the dishes, as I  swap laundry out of the washer into the dryer, as I pick up children from one place and drive them to another, as I walk and as I work, I share my heart and mind with Jesus.

Friends come to mind.  I pray for them.  I think of my kids and where they are in their school day.  I pray over the class they are in and the friends they are surrounded by.

I  ask the Lord to help me and to have mercy on me, to strengthen me for the task at hand, to give me wisdom that I surely don’t have on my own, to bring me favor and to make me fruitful and flourishing.

It’s the all day, every day conversations with Jesus that become my praying without ceasing.  I don’t think I could survive a day truly alone.

What if God’s presence now was distant and unattainable?  Behind a veiled curtain?  On top of a holy mountain?  For the priest, but not for the layman?  For Moses, but not for plain old me?

Charles Spurgeon continues his thought:

When the gospel came, though, we were placed on quite another footing.  The word Go was exchanged for Come; distance gave way to nearness, and we who were once far away were made close by the blood of Jesus Christ”” (Morning and Evening, 9/15).

This changes everything.

When I see my son longing–always longing–to be with, to have time with friends and to be near his family—I feel that challenge to my own heart to treasure and not neglect the nearness Christ offers.

Isn’t it so easy to take it for granted?  To strike out on our own until it’s too hard, and then and only then call out to  Jesus for help?

And yet, Jesus’s invitation stands:  Come.  Follow Me.    This is the peace we can have in the midst of the everyday and the mundane, as well as the crisis:  Christ with us, in us, beside us,  before us.  Christ nearby so  we are never alone.

Bible Verses About the Ways God Invites Us

Come all who are weary:

  • Matthew 11:28-30 NASB
    “Come to Me, all  who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is [b]easy and My burden is light.”

Come you who are thirsty:

  • Isaiah 55:1 NASB
    “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
    And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
    Come, buy wine and milk
    Without money and without cost.”
  • John 7:37-39 NASB
    Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, [a]If anyone is thirsty, [et him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From [c]his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
  • Revelation 22:17 NASB
    The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

Come you who are hungry

  • John 6:33-35 NASB
    For the bread of God is [a]that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”  Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
     Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Come for forgiveness:

  • Isaiah 1:18 NASB
    “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the Lord,
    “Though your sins are as scarlet,
    They will be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They will be like wool.

Come all who need healing and restoration:

  • Hosea 6:1 NASB
    “Come, let us return to the Lord.
    For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
    He has [a]wounded us, but He will bandage us.

Come like little children:

  • Matthew 19:13-15 NASB
    Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, [a]Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Come boldly:

  • Hebrews 4:16 NASB
    Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Come sacrificially:

  • Luke 9:23-26 NASB
    And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
     24 For whoever wishes to save his [a]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

An invitation for those who thirst

Just when I needed it most, my friend invited me to “come have a cup of tea.”  It was fifteen years ago, but I still remember, and not because the tea was fancy or the venue impressive. Not at all.  She was a fellow teacher who saw me about to have a mega-meltdown in the school office one day.  I was a young newlywed making my first out-of-state move and just when everything seemed to fall apart with our moving plans, she asked me to tea.

She gently took my hand and led me to her classroom where she had a “peace corner” set up with a small electric kettle, pretty cups and saucers, a variety of tea choices and sugar all laid out on top of her filing cabinet.

The tiny cup of tea she poured for me helped me pause enough to breathe and breathe enough to remember God could handle my need.

Now, I’m the one pouring cups of tea.

When a friend messages me because she’s scared, this is what I ask: Can we meet for tea (or coffee if you choose, but tea for me!)?

When my tween daughter stresses over a bad day, I put the kettle on the stove and set out the teacups.

It’s not the tea, of course, that soothes the soul.  It’s the invitation to be still, to breathe and rest and refresh.  It’s drinking in slowly and sharing it with someone who cares, someone who will listen, pray, and just be there, fully present in the moment, not scattered, distracted, rushed, and busy.

The beauty is in the offer itself:   Come as you are.   Come weary and come thirsty.  Come overwhelmed and beaten down.  Come frightened and anxious.

Just come, rest here, and drink.

It’s an invitation that echoes God’s heart for us.  After all, our God is an inviting God. He beckons us and draws us in when we’re broken, emptyhanded, exhausted, and when we’re thirsty.

The prophet Isaiah shares God’s invitation:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

When we’re filled with fear that nothing is going to work out because all our plans have fallen apart and when it feels like perhaps God has forgotten or abandoned us, we might wonder if God is even listening.  It can feel as if we’re banging uselessly on heaven’s door with our prayers, shouting in desperation, “God, hear me!  See me!  Answer me!”

Right in that place of emptiness and need, we can take comfort because we don’t have to fight for God’s attention.  He has already invited us to come, to bring that parched, dry, and empty soul right to Him.  He is the One, the only One who could fill us anyway.

So we can stop frantically doing.  Stop searching for the perfect solution and attacking the problem with all our personal might and resources.  Stop trying to make it all work out on paper or Google-searching our way out of the mess we’re in.

Isaiah tells us the invitation is for those who have no resources of their own anyway.  It’s for those who “have no money” and it’s the same invitation in Revelation:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 ESV

Let the one who is thirsty come but also let us drink.

Max Lucado writes:

“You can stand waist deep in the Colorado River and still die of thirst. Until you scoop and swallow, the water does your system no good. Until we gulp Christ, the same is true” (Come Thirsty, p.  14).

So, when He invites us to come and drink, let His peace seep down into the cracked places in our heart.  Let it saturate our fearfulness and drench our worry with the reminder of His might, His goodness, and His salvation.

This is the invitation to go together and not alone

“I want to come!”

This is my son.  He lives in a constant state of high-alert awareness, making sure no one in the family goes out for an adventure or for some fun without bringing him along.

We plan a movie day, just me and my girls to see a film that isn’t animated and isn’t going to hold the interest of my active four-year-old boy.

Somehow, though, without us talking to  him or even talking near him so he’ll overhear us, he manages to catch the word “movies” and pipes up with his current catchphrase, “I want to come!”

This is so hard.

I am an oldest child in a family of 5 kids.  Until I had a youngest child of my own, I had no idea how hard it can be sometimes to be the baby of the family.

He is the one who wants to play, but the others are too old to play.

He is the one who always wants to come even if we’re going somewhere he can’t go.  That means feeling left behind and that breaks his momma’s heart.

So, we try our best.  We draw him in.  We take him whenever we can.   That’s not everywhere and that’s not always, but we do our best.

Right in the middle of decorating our Christmas tree, last weekend, I ran out of working Christmas lights.  It had been a long and busy day full of projects, but unfinished projects are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.   I cannot do, “let it wait until tomorrow.”

So, off I went, grabbing my bag and prepping for an emergency dash to the Wal-Mart.

My son saw my bag and sure enough said, “I want to come!”

He didn’t even know where I was going.  He just didn’t want to be left out.

Of course, making quick runs into a store is much easier without children along for the ride, but I grabbed his coat and shoes and took him with me because I could.

We drove out of our neighborhood slowly, marveling at all the Christmas lights.  We bought our supplies at the store and as we walked back out, Andrew shouted to a group of unknown bystanders, “Hey, they have a lot of Christmas stuff in there!”  Then we drove back home a slightly different way so we could see the decorations on a whole new set of houses.

The best part  of our unexpected adventure was his presence.  He was there.  He didn’t miss it.  I had drawn him in to the journey and pulled him alongside as a companion and he brought all the joy when wrestling with the lights on that tree had left me joy-depleted.

This is one of the gifts of the Christmas season: Jesus draws us in and He draws us together with others.

This is what He did for Mary, as she was commissioned to be the mother of the Messiah, right when the calling was at its most overwhelming and she could have felt both overwhelmed and all alone.  That’s when the angel said:

And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren (Luke 1:36 ESV).

You’re not in this by yourself.  Come.  Share this experience and this calling with another.

That was the invitation.

It was an invitation to do the hard thing with another rather than all alone.

And the angels made other announcements.  The heavens displayed other signs.  They shared the good news of great joy with a group of shepherds co-laboring in the fields, and a group of wise men studying the skies and ancient texts together.

These men had been working together and searching together.   Now, they became fellow-travelers and fellow-witnesses, bringing their community to Jesus and bringing Jesus to their community.

So much of me wants to hide away and hibernate by the time we hit December.  The calendar has “no more room at the inn” and my depleted resources leave me with little left to give.

But Jesus.

Jesus draws others in.

He brought His very presence right into the middle of the everyday, ordinary, needy lives of people and then invited them to come and not just to come alone, but to come together .

Maybe this Christmas can be a Christmas of invitation for us.  Maybe instead of doing alone and going alone, we can ask another, “Do you want to come?”  It can be last minute, it can be messy, it can be casual, it can be crazy.  It can be formal and planned or it can be made up as we go along.

It can be a prayer as we begin the Advent season, “Lord, draw me to you….and draw me to others.”