Built for more than God...by God
he COVID-19 virus rages on and social distancing rules the day. It has been said that the introverts have been preparing for this moment their entire lives. Meanwhile, the extroverts suffer what they consider the most hellish experience imaginable. As the days slowly creep by, and the stay-at-home restrictions are extended seemingly without end, what were new rhythms become old familiar ones. The uncomfortable closeness with a few family members may be getting easier but, at the same time, the once comfortable distance from all the many others is getting less so...even for the introverts. Everyone likes their privacy, but no one likes to be alone.
Without doubt, this quarantined existence has slowed us down and forced us to reflect on what is truly "essential" to life. This invisible enemy has made us feel small, vulnerable, and afraid. Like some sort of Ecclesiastes boot camp on steroids, this virus has revealed the depth of our vanity, the meaninglessness found in so many earthly things. Powerless and hopeless, many cease looking inward and slowly start looking upward. The Scripture tells us that if draw near to God, he promises draws near to us. And he does, especially in these extended quiet times. But even when that happens, many discover that even with God there remains, at times a emptiness...a distance...a loneliness. It seems we may need something more than God.
I realize that to suggest that we need something more than God may sound heretical. This is not to suggest that God is somehow insufficient in himself. It doesn't speak of God's insufficiency at all, but our own. God's story begins and ends the same way. The beginning of Genesis implies that God regularly spent time with Adam (and later Eve)--even "walked" in the garden with Him At the end of the story, as Revelation 21 reveals, we are back together again for "The dwelling place of God is with man." The main difference between the beginning and the end is that God declares something in the beginning not quite "good." At some point before Eve was created, Adam was with God and yet...alone. Even now, as many of us spend increased quarantined quiet time with God, we still long to be near, to be held, to be connected with others. We feel alone, even with God sometimes.
Recently, I happened upon a blog written by a man named Sam Jolman titled: You Need More than God. You should read it. I realize that a number of people won't be able to get beyond the shocking title and will dismiss the idea as dangerous. But, if you're daring enough to read the entire blog, you may find an explanation as to why, especially during this time, someone might feel alone, even with God. And remember...it's not gospel...it's just an interesting perspective albeit an nontraditional one.
All of this social distancing and virtual connection is helpful, but it doesn't truly resolve our loneliness--we need more than a virtual connection (it is my hope that this time reveals just that). Our great God created us for relational connection through family, friendship, marriage, and as a community--what the Bible calls a body. Without question, in order to be alive we need a HEAD (Jesus)...but it's possible even with a head we might feel incomplete if we're missing some other essential parts. Our relationship with God can be intimate and rich and yet, it can still feel like we need something more. Loneliness is not a result of sin; it existed BEFORE the fall when Adam was in relationship with God. Being alone, even with God, was the one thing that God declared was NOT GOOD. Truth be told, we were built for more than God...by God Himself.
In case you don't or won't read the entire blog, here is an excerpt that explains the heart of what he writes:
It is the humility of God to allow us to need something or someone other than him. I read that somewhere. And I believe it captures it best. God could have created us to need only him. But instead he created us to need so much else.
We need food and air and water. We need sleep and shelter and meaningful work. And maybe most of all, we need each other. We need love and touch and laughter. We need to belong and be held. We need deep conversations and smiles from others when we walk in a room.
Just to be clear, we need God too. We need God more than we need anything else. But we don’t need only God. We need a whole lot of other things. Of course it all comes from God. It all points to God. But its not all God. And that’s by design.
For the next several weeks, perhaps longer, many of us will endure a growing sense of loneliness that pushes against our natural design. It's no wonder that even the secular world is worried about the impact of loneliness as it relates to depression and even suicide. It is still not good. And even though ZOOM, Facebook Live, and the like may relieve some of these feelings temporarily, we know that it will never fully satisfy our deepest longings for real-life connection. Even though it feels like "God should be enough," I do not believe it is not wrong or weak to feel that the need for something or someone more--it is a sign of something very good and natural that you were created for. As one made in the image of the triune God, paradoxically, we are individuals who by nature are communal. We need to be seen. We need to be heard. We need to be held.