Don’t Get Caught Out

Sometimes you read a verse or two from the Bible and it gets you, as if God was saying it for the very first time and that it was meant specifically for you. This happened to me recently when I read the following words from 2 Corinthians:

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened our hearts wide to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us…” 2 Corinthians 6:11-12

I am, in many ways, a typical bloke. I get on with life. I handle stuff. I do my best not to whinge or moan. I try not to spend too much time naval gazing. And, somewhere in my dim and distant past, I made a type of vow that I would always do my best to make things happen.

Now none of this ever presents itself as that much of a problem UNTIL…. Until events stop us from getting on with life. Until we find we’re not handling stuff that well. Our manly pride stops us from talking about this stuff to our mates, and at best we whinge and moan to our wives or family. Sometimes I do feel great sympathy for those closest to us when the wheels begin to fall off our chariots.

The descent into isolation for most blokes happens really slowly and its grip on our lives ends up being as tight as a vice.

When I recently read the verses above, it was like I could see clearly for the first time in ages. Most of us have got more people around us who are opening their hearts wide to us than we realise. There are more people around us who are offering brotherly love and affection than we possibly know. But the enemy’s biggest lie is that we are on our own and that we have to make things happen for ourselves. This lie is so widespread. Really! I mean, how easy do you find it to ask for help?

When we make agreement with that lie, we settle for isolation and we withhold our hearts from everyone around us, the very people who only want to help.

The next verse that follows on from the ones above reads like this: “As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.”

Don’t buy into isolation. Don’t be like a wildebeest that gets itself singled out and mauled by a lion. Understand that you are part of a band of brothers. These are brothers who have already opened wide their hearts to you, and you just need to open wide your heart to them in return. There is so much freedom when we live from a wide open heart.

As I am beginning to learn how to live from a wide open heart I am also learning to respond to whatever God is doing, even in the very difficult moments, as opposed to always trying to make things happen for myself and for those closest to me.

  • Good thoughts Jon. It is so, so easy to end up isolated. Thanks for highlighting this!

  • James fogarty

    Great piece of writing – many thanks

  • Louis Karmios

    Dear Jon and Joathan, I always read you posts but to date have never
    comment.

    I read them first thing in the morning and usually it helps put
    me in a better frame of mind to deal with the countless issues I have to deal with – but not today.

    For whatever reason, today I feel compelled to ask a
    question which I believe is relevant to me and your post. What do you do when
    you have opened your heart to anyone who will listen – especially within the
    church family, men’s group, home group etc. and the response is always the
    same; “I am really sorry to hear all the problems you are facing – I hope it all
    works out” and walks off.

    Unfortunately, I have become that isolated person you refer
    to – but not because I am not willing to open up – but after countless attempts
    to attract help – I have come to the conclusion that the church body whether
    individually or corporately is powerless.

    My experience so far is that our so called “brothers” are
    willing to help in theory as long as in practice it is not going to cost
    anything. I don’t mean money, most people are always willing to donate a couple
    quid – but not if it means standing up and being counted for what they believe.

    Jesus endured unimaginable suffering, physically and
    emotionally and even died so that we would have life! But life for what?

    The disciples and early Christians suffered and died for
    what they believed and our benefit – how are we repaying that debt – do we even
    acknowledge it given the opportunity?

    Most people I know won’t get involved in any kind of
    confrontation because they don’t want upset anyone. Unfortunately, the
    unbelieving secular society which I have to deal with daily have no such reservations
    – they will do whatever it takes to achieve their selfish ambitions while the
    Christian church keeps quiet and becomes ever more marginalised.

    Fast forward, where will the Anglican Church be in 10 – 20 years?

    The only hope I currently have rests not with people but
    Jesus.

    There are many good verses, but I have one phrase which is currently
    uppermost in my mind; the enemy (satan) hates nothing more than when a man feels
    like he has been forsaken by God but still remains loyal to Him.

  • Jon Stockley

    Hi Louis,

    Thank you for posting your comments. What you describe is a very tough situation, and when this happens to any of us it can often reinforce the isolation that we are already facing. The spirit of this age is driven-ness and busyness, and the effect of this is that sometimes the people we talk to feel as though they do not have the time to really listen. This is why they may say
    things like “I hope it all works out,” followed by walking away.

    Other times people may respond like this because they genuinely do not know how to help and support and that can be for so many reasons.

    Without knowing their situations, and your situation, it is
    difficult to know why you have been experiencing this response.

    The one thing I am very confident of is this: God wants each
    us to be in a community, a band of brothers, that functions interdependently and genuinely helps and supports one another. I also know only too well that Satan wants to isolate us and pick us off individually. It’s that whole ‘divide and conquer’ thing that he works for all it’s worth. Now, I know that blokes can have a real habit of getting isolated, and it is not always our fault and
    it is certainly not always our choice. But when it happens Satan works it for all it’s worth and then tries everything to get us discouraged and weak.

    So Louis, I would like to suggest two things if I may:

    First, if you are not part a local group that is linked to CVM then we would be very happy to point you in the direction of your nearest group. However hard our current circumstances are, we are always better equipped when we are part of a band of brothers.

    Second, when we feel isolated we are much more vulnerable to
    making agreement with that isolation. This always makes it harder for us to break that cycle. So I encourage you to believe that God wants you to feel connected with those around you, and if that is proving difficult at the moment keep praying that God brings this much needed friendship, help and support into
    your life. The tricky thing in this is, that once we start praying then we also need to welcome risk into our lives by getting out and looking for good brothers to work with.

    With regard to the Anglican church, none of us know where
    any church will be in 10-20 years from now. Personally, I believe God has big plans for His Church and that we just need to keep looking to partner with Him in His mission.

    I pray you have a really good day Louis, that God leads you
    to a bunch of mates who cover your back and to whom you can do the same.

    God Bless,
    Jon