"So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." Romans 14:12
Being on my own allows me space to breathe, to think, to digest things with little risk of peer pressure or a provincial set of mores prejudicing the process.
'I am considering trading in my life verse for a life song. The first minute makes my point for this post. If you just have to listen to the whole thing, though, I'll wait for you. The final words of the chorus are…
"You know when I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself"
"I Drink Alone"
Profound, I know...
December, 1976, we left the USA for the mission field. Long ago, I chose to accept this life as the Lord's will. These comments reflect solely on me, not on anyone else.
My life in Cancun the last few decades might be characterized as "life in a vacuum". So here go a few thoughts about how I think that has affected me.
IT CAN BE A BAD THING
I lack the safety in numbers that Solomon recommends: "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22) Extended isolation is probably never a good thing. I often feel more like a "not-unscathed-survivor" than an overcomer. As a topic of friendly discussion, I think I could make a case against young missionary couples being allowed to go off on their own. Even Paul was usually surrounded by a healthy number of like-minded people in his travels. At the very least, being on my own leaves me open to a myopic, incomplete, pride-riddled perspective.
I lack the stimulus of being among colleagues in the ministry... regular interaction in an environment of a free exchange of ideas; a place where competing/imposing is not in the picture; no recriminations for my weirdness; no accepting/rejecting one another conditioned on agreement over a certain set of positions or opinions. This also includes the need for exposure to newer authors that I might otherwise not become aware of.
While writing a blog post, I can feel pretty insecure when I probably do not need to. Conversely, I can just as easily rip off some thoughts or touch a particular theme, quite clueless that I may have just parachuted myself into a field of active land mines.
IT CAN BE A GOOD THING
Being on my own, though, does have its advantages. It allows me plenty of space to breathe, to think, to digest things with little risk of peer pressure or a provincial set of mores prejudicing the process.
At the other end of the isolation-interaction spectrum, there could be so much extraneous input that I foresee myself refraining from entirely speaking my mind. You see, I really am a coward. When I do get to be with colleagues in the ministry, my desire to be accepted feels stronger than my desire for truth.
An honest, hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures requires that my head be in tune with big picture stuff a lot more than with day-to-day stuff. If I am not careful, I could end up just living a life of reacting to what is happening around me or among my peers. That would leave me vulnerable to straying from a purely Christ-centered walk.
So yes, speaking metaphorically, "I drink alone". But in things that matter the most, so do you.
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)
Jesus' call to discipleship is a compliment to our individuality (See: Bonhoeffer's "Discipleship", chapter 5). It is the opportunity to make an entirely personal commitment to the most important person in our lives. He willingly gave himself in sacrificial love to redeem us. Now he offers us yet another gift of grace: the chance to freely love him back.
At first glance, his invitation appears harsh, self-destructive. But it is simply the most genuine way possible to give us our space to make a decision entirely free of manipulation or coercion. We are allowed the same honor as were the very first disciples.
This is particular redemption at its most particular.
Yes, his call is peremptory, emanating from his eternally sovereign being. We dare not do less than the first disciples. When approached with Jesus' "follow me", they immediately left everything and followed him.
Yet, as we consider his invitation, we realize that it has been individuated. Each of us has a unique set of life experiences, skills, and personality traits that God determined to use for his own purpose... long before we were born.
How others respond to his call cannot be allowed to influence us. At the end of the day, we will be judged by one standard: "on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." (Romans 2:16)
When asked: "What have you done with Jesus who is called the Christ?" (Matthew 27:22), no one will be there to help us with the answer.
That's why when I "drink alone"... I prefer to be by myself.
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6