Alone in a Crowd

Alone in a Crowd, acrylic on canvas

Oxymoron - a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.
"Alone in a Crowd" is an oxymoron, and yet we can relate to it. I take a lot of photographs because I like to paint from my own references. I was on a trip in Charleston, SC  with my mom and my daughter a good many years ago. We had taken a carriage ride through the city and were on the way back to our car when we happened upon a group of young girls on a birthday party excursion. The apparent "birthday girl" was for some undetermined reason very distraught. But the scene was so cute and colorful that I could not resist taking a couple of pictures.
Later I realized that I had captured the little girl in all of her misery in one of my photos and it so resonated with me that I had to make a painting of it. This poor child was probably exhausted from the events of the day and maybe a bit disappointed that her expectations had not properly played out. And no one else seems to "get it". We have all been there, haven't we?
Suzanne recently wrote so beautifully in her article about how we are never alone when we know the love of Jesus Christ, that I could not possibly say it any better than that. So I thought I would expand on the difference in being alone versus being lonely. If you are an introvert like myself, a crowd, which can consist of not many more than four or five people, can be a most intimidating place especially if they are unfamiliar. And as we all need face to face interaction with people, and I do, I also enjoy spending time alone.
Quiet time is good for prayer, for seeking wisdom and knowledge, for reflection, for praising God, listening to His voice and just plain refreshment. It is how we learn to love God.  We are also commanded to love people and we cannot do that without fellowship where two or more are gathered. We are to love spouses, children, grandchildren, relatives, other believers, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and enemies. Notice the order because we are not even the least bit capable of loving all of these people without first loving our Creator. And remember that love is more of a purposeful action than a feeling. It is a necessary balancing act and it is the key to defeating loneliness.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12   Spend time with the Father each day, fifteen minutes or more (the more, the better) depending on your schedule.  Make it a part of your schedule, it will change the outcome of your day. Take time for restful activity like a hobby, reading a good book, researching and learning, or taking a walk. I often talk to the Lord as I do some of these things. Avoid activities that are unproductive unless you just need a nap.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:25  Spend regular quality time with people: a meal or an activity (work or play) with family or friends (without phone use). Attend and involve yourself in church if you can. If church is too much of a crowd or it just doesn't work for whatever reason, start a weekly (or daily) Bible study with your spouse, a friend or a child. There are many online resources and we regularly share helpful links. And you cannot go wrong just reading and discussing the Word, singing, sharing testimony and praying together.
Behave wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of your time. ~Colossians 4:5  Use discernment in your interaction with strangers, but make an effort for outreach. Offer prayer for any who are sick or in need. Be kind always, and giving and helpful when and where you are able, but more importantly as the Holy Spirit leads you. Look for opportunities to share your faith and testimony. When you intentionally live this way, there is little to no room for loneliness.
Shalom Haverim (Friends)
I Am Not Alone, Kari Jobe:

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