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February 13, 2017 “This Lonesome Valley”

Life can be filled with many lonely experiences.  We can be lonely when we are completely to ourselves for extended periods of time—ask anyone who has lost a spouse.  We can be lonely when we are going through difficult experiences and when it seems no one really understands.  We can even be lonely when in a room full of people!


There’s a song that sings about Jesus’ lonely experiences.  The words go, “Jesus walked this lonesome valley.  He had to walk it by himself.  Nobody else could walk it for him.  He had to walk it for himself.”


I drove the winding road from Commerce to Neese, all alone in the dark.  It was an entirely different experience from the many times I had traveled the road in the day.  The twisting lane with the long stretches between houses seemed lonely and forlorn.  I found myself ready to escape—ready to be back at home with lights on in the house!


Suddenly, though, a cross popped out at me in the night sky.  It was set a significant distance from the road and a sizeable stretch from the house where I imagined the persons who constructed it lived.  Though I had seen the cross in casual glances as I made my trips in the light, on this night it leaped out at me.  Draped in white lights, it seemed to speak out of the darkness that surrounded it.


It spoke to me about Jesus’ many lonely experiences in his life in this world—experiences that surely must have made him wrestle with his difficulties and to want to escape into some safe places with light surrounding him.  But the escape route he never pursued.


Instead, he placed himself wholely and completely into God’s hands.  He prayed the prayer about the cross, “Father, if this cup can pass from me, let it be so; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done!”


The long road to the cross most certainly for Jesus was lonely.  Even when he was surrounded by followers, even when he was surrounded by those who loved him, he experienced loneliness—loneliness because no one could completely understand his path of service to God, loneliness when sometimes they denied him and abandoned him, loneliness because the task of breathing the last breath and passing from this life to the next is a path each of us must travel without benefit of others to accompany us.


The thought reached out and grabbed me as I glimpsed the lighted cross by the side of the road in the dark—Jesus made his long, lonely journey so that I would never have to be alone.  Jesus made his long, lonely journey so that ultimately I would never be alone or afraid or helpless or hopeless.  In all these experiences, Christ is there—and that makes all the difference!




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