Despite having my own stuff I still have to work through and overcome, more and more often I find myself talking to people and being a sounding board for them. Sometimes I find people have a view something like one of these:
- God wants to take them into the wildnerness
- God wants them to come aside
- God wants them to be alone with Him
- God wants them to be isolated for a while
If that is you, then bear with me as we explore if this is God or not.
One of the best ways to figure out if something is God or not, is to study scripture. We agree that scripture contains the words of God and God does not contradict Himself. So let’s look at some scriptures to get a feeling for when God might call someone aside.
Is God Himself isolated?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. – Gen 1:1
That word which we translate “God” in the Hebrew is ‘ĕlôhı̂ym and in the Strongs Concordance it is H430 and it is a plural word. So the 4th word in the English bible is describing God in terms of being a plurality.
Which explains why He says “let US make man in OUR image”, also plural words.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” – Gen 1:26
That’s why we say God-Father, God-Son, God-Holy Spirit. They are individuals, but are so closely knit together in community that Jesus Christ said of His Father that they are “One”.
And Jesus Christ’s connection to us is also a mystery, which the bible compares to a marriage.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church. – Eph 5:31-32
In marriage two separate people choose to become one flesh. I once read a rabbi’s writing where he described intimate love in this way: he wrote that when a husband and wife are being intimate and it’s a real and deep and meaningful connection, to them it feels like their skin is getting in the way. What a wonderful image!
They (God) are in submission to One another, and yet they are equal. Their connection is so close that Jesus said if you have seen Him (Jesus) then you have seen the Father. They are equal and yet Jesus says the Father is greater than He is – the is the humility They share toward each other.
It’s all wonderfully confusing and intimate and connected.
Is God isolated or surrounded by others?
In the prophetic books of the bible people see visions of Heaven. They see a wide variety of creatures surrounding His throne, and God interacts with countless millions of angels, plus He has elders.
God gives out crowns and people love Him so much that they willingly throw their crowns down at His feet!
So what I am saying is, God is not isolated, He is surrounded by those Whom He loves and Who love Him!
Does God isolate people or connect them?
Jesus taught this parable
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ – Luke 15:3-6
God doesn’t just save the one sheep and leave it alone, but He connects that one sheep into the flock of 99 other sheep who He also found.
In the prodigal son story the father rejoices when his son comes home and throws a feast and re-integrates his son back into the family. The other son gets upset, but that doesn’t stop the father from creating a larger family again.
God is all about building a family! Right now He is preparing rooms in His house for us.
Who wants us to be isolated?
Let me say that it is the enemy who wants us to be isolated. He walks around like a roaring lion. Do you know why a lion roars? Because it scares the herd of buck and they scatter, leaving one or two alone, so he can pick them off.
Are there instances of God isolating people?
For a while God took Elijah to the Cherith Brook, but only for a while and then He took Elijah to the widow’s house. Having Elijah with her blessed her, as it blessed him too.
When Jesus went into the wilderness, He was led by the Holy Spirit. He always had a very real communion with God. So He wasn’t totally alone. And when He went into the wilderness, He knew it was a time of testing and He was willing to go through it. It was for 40 days. It wasn’t years, it wasn’t alone and it wasn’t without a defined reason and goal.
Moses left Egypt to go for 40 years to tend sheep in Saudi Arabia. Was he alone there for 40 years? Probably not, since he got married and got to know the locals.
Joseph was thrown into jail for at least 2 years before he began to interpret for Potiphars but after that he was taken into Potiphar’s own house for 9 years and then promoted and made overseer of Egypt.
The big picture
The bible begins with a perfect marriage before the fall, before sin, between Adam and Eve.
And it ends with a perfect marriage… between Jesus Christ and His bride – the church, all of us who believe in Him.
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. – Rev 21:9-11
Just pause for a moment. This whole story, the fall of mankind, the rescue at the cross… it’s all a love story written in Heaven. The story begins and ends with a perfect romantic marriage.
In between its all about an intimate connection with us
And between the beginning and the end, in the middle bits, God is protecting His people – sometimes violently – and He is desiring they to trust His words. He is encouraging them, and warning them. He says clearly that He prefers the intimate tent that David had when David sang and danced before Him, rather than the big expensive house of cedar up on the impressive hill.
Church is meant to be like a warm family
So I think the evidence is in! Scripture is that it is possible that God is calling you into a wilderness, but it would only be a for a short time and for a defined purpose that you have agreed to.
However, scripture shows clearly with overwhelming evidence that God is relational and He wants us to be in relationship with Himself AND with one another. That’s why He gave us so much advice on how to behave towards one another.
God sets the lonely in families – Ps 68:6
Church is meant to be like a family, that’s why the bible says that a person who leads a church should already have been a husband and have had a family. Why? Because it’s really good practice! 🙂
My point is… God is not isolated. He is in an extremely intimate community. And we are made in His image – so therefore we will work best in an intimate community too! This is why a massive glamorous modern church can leave you both feeling excited AND feeling empty at the same time. So many people, but so little intimate connection.
Getting into a small warm intimate home group is often a better way to go for some people. Jesus had a “home group” of Himself and 12 disciples!
Words of caution… boundaries and safety
Now let’s be careful. Let’s take another look at this verse…
God sets the lonely in families – Ps 68:6
Is it just any old family? Will any old relationship do? What if the people are abusive? What if the church I am going to leaves me empty and I don’t feel loved?
By far THE most important thing to understand about emotional healing is that it was a lack of healthy relationships that resulted in us getting hurt. And it’s the restoration of healthy relationships that heals us – and then keeps us healthy.
The key word there is “healthy”.