Look For Loneliness All Around And Be A Blessing To Others
When God is going to do a wonderful thing, He begins with a difficulty. When He is going to do a VERY wonderful thing, He begins with an impossibility!
“For nothing is impossible with
God.” Luke 1:37 I spent a day in jail once. (Man, talk about a conversation starter for a preacher!)
Now before the rumors start, it was a voluntary thing. I was doing research for a story and wanted to know what a real jail experience was all about. Some police friends in a small town in Oklahoma were more than happy to oblige my request. (In fact they downright cackled when I asked them.)
We went up to the third story of the courthouse. I had to put all my clothes in a plastic baggie and give it to the jailer. They gave me an orange jumpsuit to put on that was about three sizes too big and escorted me to the last cell down a very long hallway. The cells were pretty much empty except for a town drunk in the first one.
“We’ll be right down the hallway when it gets to be too much for you,” my Jailer friend said with a laugh.
“I’ll be fine,” I told him with macho bravado. “I’m good by myself.” And with that the bars to the cell clanged shut and I could hear the echo of his foot- steps as he walked back to his desk.
I looked around the cell which was made of concrete blocks and had no windows. There was a bare light bulb that illuminated it and a bunk that had a steel plate as a base. There were no sheets and no pillowcases. The pillow was an old fashioned feather pillow that was so old the feathers had turned to lumpy bits. The mattress was only two inches thick. I had no radio, no book and no way to pass the time.
When I started with the request, I thought I could maybe catch up on my sleep. Or maybe spend some time in solitude praying to God. Thirty minutes into it, I was ready to call it quits. When you’re alone, it’s hard to keep yourself amused. And when you’re alone, your thoughts start turning dark.
I questioned why I was doing this. “I’m a good guy,” I thought to myself. “This is stuff only bad people have to deal with.”
I started to wonder how long I had been in the cell. They promised lunch, but it felt like I had been there for days. I paced. I did push-ups. I paced some more. I tried to take a nap and only ended up pacing some more.
After what seemed like an eternity, I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. I rushed to the bars and tried to poke my face through to see who was coming. I was ecstatic! Someone to talk to! I just knew they had forgotten about me and knew I had been in there for days. When my friend got close I said, “Thank God! I thought you had forgotten about me!”
He looked at me in a quizzical way and said, “What do you mean, it’s only been two hours. I’m bringing you lunch.”
I looked at the peanut butter sandwich and back at my friend and said, “I’ve had enough.”
They laughed and laughed and laughed. They took a polaroid of me with the jailer and deputies, which to my knowledge still hangs behind the jailer’s desk. Under the picture they wrote, “World record holder. Two hours, 43 minutes.”
Ever since that day, I’ve come to fully understand just what loneliness does to a person. It makes the world a dark place and squashes hopes and dreams and makes life impossible. Right now, there’s someone you know who’s alone. Maybe they’re at a hospital or a nursing home. Maybe they’re your neighbor across the street or sitting in the booth at the restaurant. Go and be a blessing to them because God has blessed you and let them know through God’s love, all things are possible. Let us pray. Our blessed Saviour. Today we pray for all of your children who are alone and think that life is impossible. You give us faith, hope and love, and we pray that we may be able to show others that the greatest of these is love. In Christ’s name. Amen. PASTOR TROY CONRAD IS MINISTER OF THE FARMINGTON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. EMAIL: FARMINGTONCHURCH@ PGTC.COM.