This morning I was sitting in my office, working on a sermon for Sunday. Debbie is out, recovering from her surgery, so the place is pretty quiet. Barb Parker needed to retrieve forgotten items from the main building, left last night. I heard them come in, wonder if anyone was there, and listened as they came down the hall. I grabbed my keys and we headed out to open the other building. As we turned to leave Thomas (who is three or four) walked in my office, looked around and ask, "What are you doing in here all alone?" "Just hiding out," was my answer. I smiled and was mildly entertained by the question. Then I pondered the question over lunch. The answer is an easy one. I have a sermon to write and I do that in my office. That is where my stuff is. (As of this blog it is not done yet.)
"Out of the mouths of babes" is a proverbial saying. The question sent me down a mental road. I took a mental journey, pondering the idea of alone. There are two sides to aloneness on our spiritual journey. As with so many journeys, traveling alone is fraught with danger. So many things can distract us and we get lost along the way. We can make a wrong turn, or worse, crash and burn. We are much more vunerable to those who would do us ill. I believe one of the Proverbs speaks of safety in company. I fear that too many Christians, too many people, are trying to walk this road along.
Yet, on the other hand, there are times when solitude is necessary, nay I say critical. Jesus had times of solitude. The sermon I am working on right now is about Jesus' venture into the wilderness to be tempted. (Then again, the temptation might make this example fit better in the previous paragraph. The devil might not have approached Jesus were he not alone.) Many an evening and early morning Jesus would go off alone, to pray. Most major moments in his ministry were preceded by alone time.
We sometimes need to get away, alone. Get away from the phone, radio, TV, friend and foe. The constant background noise can mask the call of God, the voice of the Spirit, the word of the Word. People can be distracting. Music, while often helpful, can get in the way of inspiration. It is good, sometimes, to be alone. The challenge is to find the balance. One must be careful not to be alone too much, and careful to get away often enough. Wisdom is decided when each is important.
So, Thomas, "Why am I alone back here?" Today, I am trying to hear God. To discern the message that he has for me to deliver on Sunday. I needed to be back here. And thanks for stopping by, I needed a moment to journey across a parking lot with a three year old.