Joy in Loneliness

Over the next three months, our church is studying the book of Philippians.  Our pastor has entitled the series “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy” (the homepage for the series is located here).  Each week, we’ll be looking at a new aspect of joy in the Christian life.  Here’s the breakdown for each week, along with the scripture readings, as we move through the book of Philippians.

October 14: Joy in Loneliness (Phil. 1:1-11)
October 21: Joy in Suffering (Phil. 1:12-18)
October 28: Joy in Death (Phil. 1:19-30)
November 4: Joy in Humility (Phil. 2:1-11)
November 11: Joy in Temptation (Phil. 2:12-30)
November 18: Joy in Conflict (Phil 3:1-11)
December 2: Joy in exhaustion (Phil. 3:12-4:1)
December 9: Joy in Anxiety (Phil. 4:2-9)
December 16: Joy in Poverty (Phil. 4:10-23)

During the course of the series, our monthly magazine, The Vox Pop, will feature short stories on the themes from that month.  When I say short, I mean REALLY short.  These stories are 100 words or less.  This month’s magazine (click here to read it), features stories on the themes of loneliness, suffering, and death.

I got a little behind and didn’t submit my entries to the magazine in time (for the past issue), but I thought that I’d put my short stories on the blog each week, as a reflection on the sermons.  You can always find the corresponding sermons on the homepage for the series or at the Mars Hill Church website.  The videos usually show up on the Wednesday or Thursday after a sermon has been preached.

When you think about it, writing an entire story in 100 words is a fairly difficult task, something that I’d recommend to anyone interested in refining their ability to write as concisely as possible.  It forces you to trim back to the bare essentials.  Ironically, it can take a lot longer to write something shorter.  I think that Mark Twain summed it up best when he said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead” (Twain actually stole this line from Blaise Pascal, a famous French philosopher).  He means that to have written a focused piece of writing, he’d have to take the time to revise to make it shorter. 

So, here’s my first 100 words (or under) story on the theme of Joy. 

Joy in Loneliness

Two prisoners sat in their solitary cells contemplating their crimes-a tin cup and plate their only companions.  In a rage, one threw his utensils on the floor. A loud clattering reverberated through his cell. 

A moment later, he heard a clank, then a clonk, then two or three apart.  The prisoner screamed “Keep quiet!” but inwardly, he yearned for more distraction. A light of recognition crossed his face when he found meaning in the noise…a code: “The Lord is my shepherd…”

(Click here to listen to or watch the related sermon on Joy in Loneliness.)


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hiya Amy!

    Great blog…I just love what you’re doing here! Paul’s letter to the Philippians is certainly one of the biggest influences in my life.

    I just love the way God leads me in various ways to see his word; moreover, experience and live his word to better my own.

    Paul, in my humble opinion was a perfect writer for the letter. Have you ever seen the ruins of where modern day scientists believe the actual jail and cells that Paul and Silas we in?

    Just one more issue on Philippians for now: I believe that this is where the rubber hit the road for Paul. I truly feel that above everything in his life, Paul found out who, what, where, and his relationship worked with God. (More….maybe later!?)

    Anyway for what it’s worth: I took you up on the story in 100 words…Whew! Great exercise! I’ve altered mine a bit insofar as the story and what really sticks out at me:

    “Two destitute criminals in solitary confinement felt the loneliness of death. Bordering insanity, one hurled his eating utensils if only for the companionship of clamor; forgetting of course, he’d need the better part of day to find the makeshift tableware that provided the noise.

    Sprawling, his chest just inches off the ground; he traversed every entire inch of that cell. At dawns first light, unable to move he uttered his prayer. Was he dreaming? Sounds of music, praise songs, overwhelmed his ears. Picking his face up from the dirt he realized he was hearing communion between God and…” (98)



  2. So, so sorry!

    Third paragraph should read Paul and Silas were in? Fourth paragraph should read “…Paul found out who, what,…and how his relationship worked with God.”

    More blessings from our Lord,


  3. Thanks so much for your post! Great story!

    I’ve not learned much about Paul’s prison, but I bet the conditions were terrible. All the more reason why his joy is so supernatural and amazing. To be writing a book about joy when you suffer so badly, it’s just incredibly counterintuitive. But, that’s often how our God works, with his mysterious ways.

    Some of my favorite verses are in Philippians, so I’m excited to be studying the book with our church.

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