Have You Ever?
Do you know what it's like to be lonely? So alone that your thoughts are your only companions? Do you know what it's like as a child to want to play with other children and meet only ridicule? Do you know what it's like to wish for a retreat in the quiet of your own home, but even there find laughter and sarcasm? Do you know what it's like to spend hours, days and nights in the lonely refuge of a mountain or desert? Do you know what it's like to sit high on a lonely mountain overlooking a city, wishing you could be someone's friend? Do you know how it feels to sleep on rough ground without a blanket year after year?
Have you ever walked through a crowd, attended a dinner party, or passed through a marketplace teeming with people yet somehow still felt alone? Have you ever watched from the shadows while others enjoyed an activity or game? Have you ever been invited by someone to get acquainted and then been asked to come after dark so no one would glimpse you together?
Have you ever fed a large crowd and discovered that the food you provided was more appreciated than you were?
Have you ever walked 30 miles to comfort a bereaved family only to be treated as if it were your fault the sick had died? Have you ever been turned away no matter where you went or whom you asked for lodging?
Do you know how it hurts to have no one to talk to, no one to share with, even if that person would only listen? Have you ever cried so hard that your eyes ached and, trying to talk, you could only moan between sobs? Have you ever spent nights in tears that no one will ever know of except you?
Have you ever thought you had found a few who accepted you as their friend and then watched as they left or ignored you so as not to be embarrassed by you? Have you ever felt the pain of rejection or the bitter disappointment of broken trust? Have you ever given of yourself until there was nothing left to give and then heard mocking laughter because you were so vulnerable?
Have you ever sat alone by the edge of a lake and watched gulls drift above the water, wishing you could fly away? Have you ever struggled against giving up the effort to give yourself, struggled until you actually sweat blood?
Have you ever spent entire nights worried and praying for a troubled friend? Have you gone to that same friend for comfort and understanding and heard him say, "I'm too tired to listen?"
Have you ever had people follow you so that they might distort something you say and justify putting you to death? Have you ever been rudely jostled by calloused men, helpless within their menacing circle, because of love? Have you ever had someone spit upon your bruised and bleeding face? Have you ever felt blood trickle down your back from torn flesh while being beaten by a leather whip with metal strips attached to it?
Have you ever felt the sharp pain of thorns forcefully pressed deep into your scalp and temples? Have you ever had to wipe your eyes with a blood--sopped sleeve in order to see through tears? Do you know how it feels to struggle through your own blood while dragging heavy timbers? Do you think you could stagger on, willingly, toward dying for those who hate, despise, and reject you? Would you bear screaming insults, laughter, and mockery as you collapsed beneath your instrument of death? Would you struggle desperately to rise and continue towards your place of execution?
Have you ever felt the tearing, grinding crunch of nails being pounded through your hands and feet? Have you ever felt, with every nerve, the jolting thud of a cross dropped into its deeply dug hole? Have you ever hung from nails, with open wounds gaping ever wider while crowds taunted, throwing rocks at your bruised and lacerated body? Have you ever hung outstretched as rain and wind buffeted your exhausted body against a cross?
Have you ever gasped hoarsely for breath, aware that you are dying? Do you know how it feels to have vision grow dim as your eyes glaze? Have you ever exhaled your last breath, knowing it is finished?
Have you ever hurt? Have you ever ached? Have you ever suffered? Have you ever died--alone--for those who refused to let you be their friend? While on this earth, Jesus longed for companionship. He still does. Will you be His friend?
Lesson 1 - Conclusion
Copyright © 1995, Lee Venden and Thure Martinsen