“I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.'
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” Hosea 2:23
I remember going downtown Vancouver alone one day after a friend cancelled plans. There’s a sandwich shop downtown that I absolutely love, and I had made up my mind to go even if it meant eating alone – something I’ve never felt comfortable doing. The seating plan was community style: long counters and tables flanked by benches and bar stools. If you were going to eat at Meat & Bread, you were going to do it alongside other people. Usually, new people are no problem for me, but I looked around the restaurant and saw precious few empty seats and knew: these were not my people. I did not belong here. I saw friends laughing, people wearing clothes that didn’t resemble the clothes I was wearing, and nothing to tell me I was welcome.
I turned and literally ran out of the restaurant, stood under the awning next door and cried. Why did I feel so alone? Why couldn’t I just order a sandwich and sit down?
The answer resounded in my head: You don’t belong. Those are not your people.
After the anxious tears stopped, I followed my prior instinct: it was better to go without food than to be somewhere I didn’t belong.
In this world, we are visitors. This is not our true home, and these are not all our people, but we belong as long as we remain close to the One who created us. We will face trials. We will suffer anxieties. He called us His people, became like us, suffered like us, and then opened the door to His kingdom and called us heirs. We are His people and we are loved. And we belong to each other, our churches and our families are supposed to be models of His kingdom, where all are welcome and all are offered life-giving love.
Lord, I give you my heart. My lonely heart, my anxious heart, my heart that sometimes finds it difficult to trust. I know that I belong to You, but help me to remember to invite others to know You and to be known. Give me opportunities to welcome the lonely into relationship with You, the One Who wants to call them His own. I love you. Amen.
You have been called to love, and to invite people into community. There is someone in your life that feels alone. Ask God to reveal them to you, and take a step towards them. Invite them out for coffee or to spend an evening with you and your people.
When was the last time you felt alone? The last time you welcomed a stranger? That you heard God say, ‘You are mine’?