Where is God in the Loneliness?

I’ve actually put off writing this particular post because, to be honest, I’ve grown increasingly reluctant to say that God does this or God does that, or point at an occurrence and say, “Look what God did!” Over the course of my years I’ve often said and done precisely those things only to have life teach me profoundly that I was mistaken.  I promised, though, in the last post that I’d reflect on this question, so this is a small part of what I’m thinking at the moment, humbly offered.

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you have set in place, what is the [human] that you are mindful of [them]?" Psalm 8:3

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you have set in place, what is the [human] that you are mindful of [them]?” Psalm 8:3

It’s true that things have worked out really well for me in the year or so since divorce ruptured my plans – and some would see that as a sign of God’s blessing my life. I’m slow to draw that conclusion, however, for at least two reasons. First, just because things have worked out for me doesn’t necessarily mean that the Creator of the Cosmos has taken a greater interest in me than in multiple other 60 year-old men (at least as deserving as I) whose lives have fallen apart at a very inconvenient time and who haven’t landed on their feet the way I have. And second, if God takes a minute interest in the details of my life, my ex-wife and I could’ve used some clearer insight back in our early 20’s as to her sexual orientation. That would’ve been a huge blessing for both of us.

Alas, I do not believe that God micromanages my life.

But, might it be that as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown more sensitive to promptings rooted in wisdom and improved in my ability to make something good emerge from my brokenness? Perhaps God DID present my ex-wife and me with the data that our marriage wasn’t going to be the best thing, but we were both too intimidated by the toxic brew of the cultural, religious, and family systems in which we were raised to brave the deprivation of blessing an authentic response would’ve entailed.

You see, I believe that whatever God does, God respects our essential humanity and treats us as adults, even when we’re mistaken in God’s “eyes.” Flaws warp every human system, including even the best nuclear family. We inherit those flaws and our psychodynamics will always involve those flaws. Sometimes, we’re liberated from the more harmful traits of our systems. Sometimes wisdom gets through and we muster the courage to walk a less beaten path.

A less beaten path, though, always leads through the desert that lies between the previous “captivity” and the anticipated “promised land.” Sure, the waves parted and I got through on dry land, but the wilderness is a lonely place, and I feel the temptation to flee back to “Egypt.” But I know I headed in the right direction when I embarked on the less beaten path. If I flee the loneliness now, I’ll turn my back on the promised land.

I think God has been involved in my process by wooing me through wisdom over this long and stumbling journey. When I have paid attention and made decisions rooted in wisdom, consequences have been positive. As it becomes steadily clearer to me what constitutes wisdom I get a better sense of the Divine Presence. As a result, I’ve been freed from fearing the ridicule and rejection of institutional religion and those who adhere to it. I’ve been given the gift of a wider perspective so I can marvel with Job when he “heard” God say:

Can you bind the shining Pleiades?
Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Can you bring forth the constellations
in their seasons,
or lead out the Great Bear with its cubs?
(Job 38:32-33)

Something eternal resonates in me every time I sharpen my awareness to the fact that I am a tiny part of a huge, magnificent, and ancient process. It’s not about me, so I’m not going to attempt to convince God to rearrange the details of my life so they appeal more to my predilections. Rather I’m going to focus on the more joyous and manageable task of changing myself so that wisdom might grow in my soul.

Whenever I consider wisdom, God is involved in the process of my living.

And then, there are those “coincidences” which seem to defy explanation – more on that in the next post.

About Drexel Rayford

Drexel has been senior pastor of four churches in Kentucky and Virginia, a psychiatric ward chaplain, denominational bureaucrat, and an erstwhile indie singer/songwriter/story-teller and seeker of authentic human vocation. Currently, Drexel is working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center in the capacity of The Support Team Network manager, a hospital-based community partnership aimed at nurturing healing communities for discharged patients. He loves kayaking, road cycling, hiking, and all kinds of photography, but he loves his wife Vicki and blended family of three adult children more. He holds a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion and a pastoral counseling certificate from the University of Louisville, Department of Psychiatry.
This entry was posted in Divorce, God's Language, Insight, Loneliness, Spiritual Maturity, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Where is God in the Loneliness?

  1. ruth says:

    With age comes wisdom. God works in mysterious ways. That has always been my motto.

  2. Mary Dell Sigler says:

    So appreciate and am helped by your blogs. Thank you.

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