Psalm 61:2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Verses six and seven indicate that David was already king when he wrote this, so we know that the imagery in this verse is metaphorical and/or emotional, but it’s still striking. We do sometimes feel like we’re “on the backside of nowhere,” disconnected from all we find familiar and comforting. The turn of phrase in the Japanese makes that a little clearer, using the same character in “ends of the earth” and “heart grows faint.” For all the fact that the earth is a globe, and thus has no “ends,” we would still agree, I think, that Antarctica, for example, would be “the ends of the earth” geographically. Few people ever have the chance even to visit there, but emotional isolation is a different matter. It is possible, and indeed not uncommon, to feel intensely lonely in a dense crowd. What we long for is the connection with others, the belonging. David recognized that God was the ultimate answer to that, because as Paul said, (quoting a Greek poet) “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) At issue is not whether God is near, but whether we feel He is near. The problems are always on our side. When we are submitted to Him, quiet before Him, then we can be aware of Him and our sense of isolation disappears. It is indeed nice to have other people in the picture, but as much as we might like that, it’s not essential. I’m reminded of the child who didn’t want to be alone in their room at night. When their parent reminded them that “Jesus is always with you,” they replied, “But I want Jesus with skin on.” When we have experienced such feelings ourselves, it is important for us to be willing to be “Jesus with skin on” for others.
I’m a member of a Facebook group for children of missionaries, many of whom, like I, are missionaries themselves. Frankly, a sense of isolation is very common in that group, not feeling like we “belong” wherever we are. From the standpoint of the “sending country,” the expression, “the ends of the earth” is often very appropriate! The community, the acceptance and understanding we feel in that group can be very sweet and affirming. At the same time, we need to remember that our ultimate acceptance and belonging is in Christ, and nothing less. I currently feel more accepted than I have perhaps any time since I became aware of the world outside my immediate family, but I must not let that be a substitute for abiding in Christ and letting Him abide in me by His Word and His Spirit. I can never be isolated when I am in Him!
Father, thank You for how accepted I feel at this point. It’s a sign of the depth of it that I haven’t thought about it in quite a while! I ask that You use me as “Jesus with skin on” to demonstrate Your love to many, so that they too may discover “the Rock that is higher,” for their salvation and healing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!