Overcoming Loneliness and Isolation

I was made a servant of the gospel by God’s special gift, which He gave me through the working of His power. Ephesian 3:7

The above verse is commentary from Apostle Paul, mentioning his implantation in God’s kingdom as a disciple of the most high. Paul says in the aforementioned verse, I was “ made a servant” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not that he went in his own volition or was a follower of Jesus. Quite the opposite! Many who are familiar with Paul’s story knows that before his conversion from Saul, he was a diabolical opponent of Jesus’ teachings and followers of Christ. Paul persecuted and killed those who followed Christ and deemed to eradicate the movement of the gospel. It was on the road to Damascus that Jesus appeared to Paul and reprimanded him for persecuting him, closed his eyes of darkness and thus gave him the gift to see (Acts 9:4-15).

So what does this so called “gift” have to do with loneliness and isolation? In Ephesians 4:7, Paul says that each one of us has received a special gift in proportion to what Christ has given. You see beloved, God didn’t just strike Paul blind, I believe the blindness was a metaphor for Paul’s spiritual darkness. Paul thought he was doing a noble, lawful thing by persecuting followers of Christ. He thought he was preserving the current religious laws of the land. God shut paul’s eyes to show him the evil, wicked, and immoral life he was living through pride, self-righteousness, and murder. And God, through Ananias, revealed to Paul that the only way His eyes could be truly opened to the spirit realm and receive true sight is to be touched by God! (Acts 9:12). Even Ananias pleaded with the Lord that this man was too wicked and evil! But I love how the Lord says in Acts 9:15, “Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before nations and kings, and the children of Israel.

Beloved, God chose Paul as his disciple, opened his eyes to a deeper understanding of the things of God that most Christ followers at that time couldn’t comprehend, and gave him many spiritual gifts. One being a gift of deliverance (or exorcism), when he cast out a spirit of divination in a girl in the village whom merchants were using for profit. (Acts 16:18). But the irony is that with these spiritual gifts will come loneliness and isolation! Even on Paul’s spiritual journey there were moments of loneliness and isolation. Recall when Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas when they were spreading the gospel in Pamphylia, which later caused contention between Paul and his cohort Barnabas and they too would eventually part ways.

Ephesians 4:11

It was He who gave gifts to mankind; he appointed some to be pastors and teachers. (12) He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. (GNB).

How many of you God has given a gift and you denied it because of  your own personal dreams, goals, or worldly ambitions. Or, how many of you have denied His gift because you feel like you aren’t qualified to represent God like Paul, or do not have your life together. But does not God say in 1 Corinthians 1:27, that He uses things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful (NLT). More, some even deny the gift because of concern with pleasing spouse or family. 1 Corinthians 7:33 says, a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; and he is pulled in two directions. And more — this part many women do not want to hear: 1 Corinthians 7:34, says an unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both body and spirit. There are so many woman who are depressed and feel alone because they want to get married and feel like God does not favor them because He has not given them a husband. I speak to many of these women and a common consensus, I find, is a lack of Biblical study, or even spending time with the Lord. Many, men and women, do not spend intimate personal time with Christ to learn His heart, His leading, His direction for finding a mate. They have a void within themselves, an emptiness that they think only a man or woman can fill when Jesus is already waiting at the altar; He already fell in love with you, but you’re trying to fill that love outside of Him! I wonder if women and men would concern themselves with the Lord’s work and be dedicated to Him in body and spirit first, how many would attract mates who are drawn to them because of their worship of Christ – because they are operating in their gift! Amen!

More, I find that the people God does truly call or give a spiritual gift, often do not want to go! It’s the ones that God does not call that are the ones that are happy to let you know with titles of a Dr., prophet, prophetess, a preacher a pastor etc. before their names. Sadly, some go to push their own agenda, or propaganda. But those that are truly called to proclaim the gospel, there can be, in the beginning, an inward struggle. It takes a letting go of the person’s plans, goals and ambitions; laying down of their life to follow Christ. Beloved that is not an easy task! The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12, that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted! Who in their natural mind would want to sign up to be persecuted? That’s why it is a struggle for some! Beloved, the spirits that operate in this world are wicked and evil, you are going to be persecuted anyway, so why not for Christ? The devil will only give you temporary satisfaction. The devil makes deals. Whatever he gives you he wants to collect something else  for it in return!

Romans 11:29 says,

For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable!

Amen! That means that when God gives it to you, He expects nothing in return! The “gifts” of God are irrevocable! Many people want to be in control of their own lives and the lives of others, so they turn to dealing in the occult to get gifts from the devil. You best believe whatever satan gives you he wants a return on his investment! Why do you think you read about so many people involved in these types of practices who commit suicide or murder, or perform other bizarre behaviors that are incomprehensible? Beloved, there is a spiritual realm and it is real! Granted, when a person submits to God’s call, as 2 Timothy 3:12 says, will suffer persecution because the devil will do everything he can to stop the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that will involve times of loneliness, rejection and isolation. Some people will simply think you have become too religious, some will now feel uncomfortable around you; feeling like they can no longer do things around you that they used to do in fear of judgement, and other times God will allow periods of being alone to teach you how to hear His voice; to teach you how to love Him, and to perfect your gifts.

Beloved, that’s why we must constantly do our part and work on our personal relationship with Christ. Work on learning His heart, what pleases Him, and learning His ways. If not, we will turn inward and blame Christ and develop and angry attitude towards Him simply because we don’t understand with our limited thinking. We will begin to blame God for our mishaps when the enemy is simply the devil, and not God!

As people called in Christ, God has given us a gift. In Ephesians 3:3, Paul says that God revealed to him the “Secret plan.” I love that verse because those die-hard followers of Christ know this secret! No matter how much they are persecuted by satan and his cohorts, they keep fighting because God has opened their eyes in the spirit realm. Like gifts, anyone can obtain the secret but some are too busy with the world’s system: money, recognition, power, wealth. More, some are just too busy with the ordinary day-to-day goings on of life to get His secrets or gifts to defeat the enemies in their lives! It has to be a strong desire to live holy and righteous and to want to know the truth of God to really receive this gift. Paul says in Ephesians 3:5, that God has revealed this secret by the spirit to His Holy apostles and prophets. Sadly, some people in church don’t have the gifts, though they sit Sunday after Sunday in their designated church pews only socializing with their inner church circles, while new converts are often isolated and lost in a new environment to eventually stop attending church altogether. Some are even so concerned about recognition within the church that they neglect their own family’s needs and do not even call or check on sick family members or neighbors in their neighborhood outside of their church, outside of their church ministry or without receiving recognition. Sadly, these have not yet received the gift! I say yet because beloved, I have been on both sides of the fence. I am so thankful to God that He has lifted the veil, and opened my eyes like Paul, and it is only because of deep prayer, and wanting God’s heart that He gave me true vision!

It is truly a gift to be sensitive to others’ needs. You never know what people are going through or if one day they may decide to take their lives because they feel like no one cares. Even if people may slight our greetings or invitations we must put our own feelings aside and not let a spirit of rejection enter our hearts and become embittered or angry. We must keep reaching out to God’s people, despite rejection. And this I will tell you takes much patience and diligent prayer. Somehow, we have turned into a me me generation. What are people doing for me, or how can this benefit me. I will be the first to vouch for this because I was this way for years. But what I had noticed was it was a generational curse passed down my lineage. It was a spirit of pride operating in my family and I was determined to break the cycle!

Moreover, sometimes God will allow loneliness and isolation so you have no other choice but to go to Him; so you have no choice but to cry out to Him! When God is ready to elevate you to the next level in your spiritual growth, He will remove the cushion of family, friends, and sometimes church members! It will seem like in the physical everyone is acting up or abandoning you, but in the spirit God is pulling up the weeds, planting new soil, killing the infestation of dead religion! — creating new fruit in you! A servant that is going to be used by God must first learn how to serve. Nowadays, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, everyone wants to be in the spotlight without first learning humility; how to cater to their brothers and sisters’ needs first. Sadly, with the resources of social media, I believe it is exacerbating selfishness, self-marketing and self-promotion. As humans we are so driven by our ego and the constant need of validation, recognition to prove ourselves, our worth or talent. Hard we may try, we still fall victim to the world’s propaganda and ideologies, when God calls us to be the exact opposite: to validate others, build up others’ self-esteem; help others to recognize their gifts and help nurture it! We look at shepherds as leading the flock, but in essence shepherds serve their flock: nurturing, caring for, and feeding each and everyone.

If you are to be a shepherd for Christ, you must grasp this lesson. Get it! Ingrain it! If we are to be used of Christ, we must put ourselves aside; our egos, and serve God’s people! I’m not just talking about in church, but in everyday life. Serve your family first: call your family, check in with them if you haven’t heard from them in a while – not text or email, but be a compassionate voice on the other end of the line. Serve at your job by being a listening ear to a despondent co-worker. Serve a person on the bus by giving up your seat, and showing the love and generosity of Christ. Serve your neighbors by introducing yourself, and letting them know you are available should they ever need anything. Beloved, that’s showing the heart of God and using your gifts! Serve from a place of humility, lowliness, not self-validation, recognition; putting others before ourselves, their needs, wants – most, putting God’s love before our own need for love. It was once said, “whatever you need, give it away.” Beloved, that’s how you truly overcome loneliness and isolation. Give yours away! It’s hard, I know because we all want to feel loved and needed, but for some of us, God has made us self-sustainers and has given us his self-sustaining love that we grasp stronger than most. These that understand this love in a deeper more profound way, He calls to spread that love to others who feel lonely and unloved; those who are weaker in the faith.

The problem is we began to get jealous of God’s love for others and turn inward and ask, “what about me, Lord?” When God has equipped us with all the love we will ever need in Him! We just have to learn how to tap into it!

So today I look at my Christian walk through new eyes, a new perspective. God calls us to go out and feed His sheep, only then will we cure our own loneliness!

-Puah Neiel

How to find the Love of your life!

Online dating websites seem to be the topic of much discussion today. I’m constantly bombarded with questions asking if I had tried it or will I try it. A Christian colleague recently asked me what did I think about online dating. He was freshly out of a bad relationship and had went back to his old habit of online dating. As I sat there and listened to story after humorous story of stalkers, weirdos, hook-ups, and heartbreaks–not to mention the money he spent for the service–his hope and faith seemed to lie in a few people he knew that had gottten married dating online.

I must say I am taken aback every time a Christian brother or sister goes the route of dating websites. Now they even have so called Christian dating websites. Website Christian Mingle is heavily targeting the Christian market. Makes one wonder if it is really concerned about the single Christian or is it preying on the vulnerability of Christians to push another dating website? A purported 84% of the population consider themselves Christian. Christendom means different things to different people: some are conservative in their beliefs and some are very liberal. What’s more, there are those who claim the title “Christian” but lifestyles are disturbingly contrary.

With such a wide array of different beliefs and attitudes towards Christianity, saints who put themselves in a position of online dating are setting themselves up as plenty of fish in a sea of sharks! Pun intended : ). This is dangerous water to tread as 1 peter 5:8 states “…Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour ” (NKJV). Sure there are some resulting marriages perhaps, but that’s the minority, not the majority! The question is, how long will they last? Several of my Christian friends and acquaintances have tried online dating. Quite frankly, more than not. And what’s interesting is their stories all seem to correlate with one another–not the happily ever after ending at all.

Take Gina for instance (name changed to protect identity). As Gina and I conversed about online dating her objective was to debunk my partial theory. She proceeded to elaborate anecdotes of men she met and dated online. Emphatically proclaiming a few “good” men wined and dined her, flew her to see them or lavished her with gifts. Shockingly, some were married! She deemed to paint a very glamorous picture of her mail suitors. Gina said she frequently dated lots of men online and was having fun.

Something was telling me that there was more to the stories than she was willing to admit. So I proceeded from a different angle–catching her off guard–delving more into her behavior; what was in fact causing her to date so many men, online or otherwise? That’s when Pandora’s Box opened! The picture was not as pretty as she painted it to be after all.

In our session it was concluded that Gina did not even know what a healthy relationship looked like and freely admitted that the men who gave her those fabulous gifts ALL expected sexual favors in return. When she didn’t comply they all abandoned her. Even the ones she did have sex with eventually left her. After further probing she confessed that it had left her feeling angry and hurt. Furthermore, she realized the root of her problem was loneliness.

By conversation’s end, Gina was soaked in tears. Turns out, God had been trying to get her attention for some time. Ain’t God good! Needless to say, Gina changed her perspective on dating websites and is now on the road to recovery. Hallelujah!

The internet is the devil’s playground. He is particularly on the hunt, hiding behind the computer screen to viciously attack those who live for Christ.

Moreover, as Christians if we desire a mate shouldn’t our first response be to go to God and ask in prayer (Matthew 21:22), then patiently wait on Him? Shouldn’t we put our faith in God opposed to the internet? Surely He can pick a better mate for us than we can for ourselves.

Women are most vulnerable in this area. So many women in the church desire husbands and may feel like they have the career, the house, the car and all they are missing is a husband. Many I know have prayed earnestly for a mate and many are struggling with loneliness. But are you really ready for that divine mate? Are you really ready for God to answer your prayer for a husband/wife right now?

Let’s take a test to find out:
(Simply answer yes or no).

1. Is God priority in your life over your career, money, friends, sports?

2. Do you make it a priority every day to talk to and meditate with God?

3. Do you have a reciprocal relationship with God or do you order demands and requests and expect God to comply?

4. Do you go to God only when you are in trouble or when you need something? Moreover, is God an afterthought?

5. Do you get upset when you feel like God doesn’t answer your prayers– lashing out in anger and temper tantrums? “Why me’s” and “You dont love me’s”?

6. Is your desire for a mate stronger than your desire for a personal, intimate relationship with God?

7. Are you sold out for Christ? Is He truly the Love of your life?

8. Do you desire to be constantly in the presence of God worshiping Him, loving on Him. Meeting with Him in His Sanctuary?

9. Do you talk to Him (prayer) and listen to what He has to say back to you (Bible reading) even though it may not be what you want to hear or do?

10. Do you go to God first when problems arise or do you seek counsel from momma, family, or friends?

If you answered “no” to any one of these questions maybe it’s time to reevaluate your Love walk. The Bible says that we as Christians are the Bride (Rev 19:7-9), so then if we are the bride…Christ is our husband.
If you say you love God then you have a committed, covenant relationship with Him right? Ok, if Christ is your husband, how are you nurturing this relationship? Are you giving God your first fruits? Do you acknowledge and honor God upon waking? Is God the the apple of your eye as He says we are to Him (Zechariah 2:8)?

I’m going to conclude Part 1 here. I felt God had so much to say regarding this subject that while writing it it became quite lengthy. We will recommence with the second part tomorrow.