I recently heard a sermon here in Bolivia on leaders in the church. With everything that the speaker said, I thought of you. There is one thing that he said in particular that I think was quite profound. He said “A leader is almost synonymous with loneliness,” and I think that he is correct. Jesus had an inner circle of friends, Peter, James, and John, but even so, when he was facing imminent death, he did not pour his heart out to those three, but to God. Despite the human companionship that Christ had on earth, his disciples would never understand his loneliness or the weight of sin that he carried so obediently. I have seen that you also have experienced a taste of this kind of loneliness and a taste is sometimes more than some experience in a lifetime. Even with human friends nearby, there are obvious things that you could never share with them and that they might never understand.
I know, that I am first and always your daughter and I love that, but just for a moment, I ask that I might also be your friend so that I might stand alongside you, encourage and comfort you, understand and love you in a way that only a friend is capable of. But, after our brief moment of friendship, I wish to offer you something on your birthday that is always quite within reach, but as humans, we often forget that the opportunity even exists. I desire to offer you something greater than any several moments of human friendship that I could ever provide. In John 1:14, it says that the Word, God, became flesh and lived amongst us. He was fully man and fully God. This is an amazing combination because it tells us that he knows exactly what it is like to be human, to be weak, and to be frail. And yet, he knows the exact weight of the burden that you so often and uneccessarily carry because he has carried it. He is what I offer to you. He is waiting for you to call his name so that he might relieve you of your burdens. He is vastly more capable than you or I could ever be in carrying such a weight of pain and loneliness. Why not let him?
You are not alone in that there have been many leaders before you who have experienced loneliness in their own ministries. I am sure that you stand amongst some of the finest including, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, and Samuel Wesley, names that you gave to three of your sons. I leave one son for last because even though he is named for no one in particular, his middle name, David, is shared with a man after God’s own heart who often shared of his loneliness in the psalms including the following passage:
Psalm 25:16-18, ESV
“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.”
My dad and my friend, I pray that you will be like David, that you will call upon the Lord to bring you out of your distresses, forgive all your sins, and carry your burdens throughout your ministries. I also pray that this year on your birthday, you will not feel loneliness, but friendship and wholeness in Jesus Christ.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30