Healthy Leaders


Reaching Out to the Lonely

Alan SmithAlan Smith

The story is told about a New York City policeman investigating a case. He made a phone call, but even before he finished dialing, he somehow knew he had made a mistake. He let it ring, though.

The phone rang once, twice – then someone picked it up. “You’ve got the wrong number!” a husky male voice snapped before the line went dead.

Mystified, the policeman dialed again.

“I said you got the wrong number!” the voice growled. Once more the phone clicked down.

The policeman asked himself, How could he possibly know I had the wrong number? A cop is trained to be curious – and concerned. So he dialed a third time.

“Hey, c’mon,” the voice said. “Is this you again?”

“Yeah, it’s me. I was wondering how you knew I had the wrong number before I even said anything.”

“You figure it out!” The phone slammed down.

The policeman sat there for a while, thinking. Then he called the man back.

“Did you figure it out yet?” the man asked.

“The only thing I can think of is nobody ever calls you.”

“You got it!” The phone went dead for the fourth time.

Chuckling, the officer dialed the man back.

“What do you want now?” asked the man.

“I thought I’d call – just to say hello,” the policeman smiled into the phone.

“Hello? Why?”

“Well, if nobody ever calls you, I thought maybe I should.”

We live in a world of lonely people (many of them, ironically, surrounded by other lonely people). And all of our technology hasn’t made things any better. Today, you can have hundreds of Facebook friends, but not have one person who will be there when you need them or who will listen when you have something to share.

Many in the world are like the Psalmist who said,

I am like a desert owl, like an owl living among the ruins. I lie awake. I am like a lonely bird on a housetop. (Psalm 102:6-7, NCV)

Sometimes, that loneliness expresses itself in gruffness and an apparent attempt to push people away. In reality, there’s an aching desire to know that someone truly cares, that someone loves them unconditionally, and that someone is willing to listen. Jesus reached out to those who were outcasts, experiencing loneliness. May we, as His people, keep our eyes open to those around us every day that live in loneliness, and may we share the love of Christ in a way they may have never seen before.

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Alan Smith