Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
– 1 Kings 17:1-6
Okay, this is not much of a heavy mystery. You cannot live in a total vacuum. If you are in a sealed container without any provision for air, even with only a slight vacuum, you will consume all the oxygen within the space. You will probably pass out due to carbon dioxide poisoning before all the oxygen is consumed, but at that point, it doesn’t really matter regarding the exact sequence. We breathe in oxygen, we exhale carbon dioxide. That is basic biology / chemistry. Without fresh air, there becomes more carbon dioxide and less oxygen at the same time.
No, my mother loved old sayings, and I heard “you can’t live in a vacuum” so much growing up, I just wanted to ‘argue’ the point.
I am an introvert. For a lot of my youth, I grew up on a farm, outside of town. My nearest neighbors were not near. I whiled away the hours of my youth playing the board games Monopoly and Careers with my three friends: Me, Myself, and I. And maybe a couple other board games that remain unnamed. Before spreadsheets were invented, I kept detailed records on the Careers statistics. I started young. In Monopoly, I had my favorite playing piece, but I tried to be neutral. I would walk around the card table, figuring what each person would do if that were the only position that I played.
Then, my mother would crash through the door and say her favorite saying about living in vacuums. As I got older, mentioning vacuums would elicit her next statement, “Now that I have vacuums on my mind, you can do something useful with your time and vacuum the house!”
What does the Scripture say about vacuums? Nothing. Elijah was not placed in a bubble and subjected to a vacuum pump sucking all the air from the bubble. But Elijah, for a while, was afforded what my mother referred to as a vacuum. He was blissfully alone.
Elijah was so far away from other people that he had to be fed by ravens. Welcome to introvert heaven!
Don’t get me wrong. The best definition of an introvert is someone who physically tires when they are around other people, assuming that they must interact with those people. About one out of every four people is an introvert. They don’t always act like they’d rather be alone. I eventually learned to speak in front of large crowds. My largest technical presentation had roughly 400 in attendance. I love doing comedy routines when it is appropriate. I am animated when I teach class. But when I go to the hotel room that night, my legs begin to cramp. If I don’t have a soothing ointment to apply to my legs. I will get very little sleep that night due to the total exhaustion and pain. An introvert can pretend to be the life of the party, but there is a cost, once alone.
Does God want us to live in a ravine and be fed by ravens?
A commandment, if you will, of Jesus is to love one another (John 15).
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:5 “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
The Apostle Paul gives reasons for our ‘vacuum’ time and our time with other believers. We need alone time for reflection and prayer, but if you spend too much time in your ‘vacuum’, Satan will take advantage of the situation to tempt. Therefore, we must also spend time with other believers. If for no other reason, other believers can help us in self-control. Alone, we can take a wrong turning in our Bible Study and meditation. But sharing our insights with other believers can become self-correcting during the ensuing discussions (not that a group cannot go down a rabbit hole together, but less likely).
I love my alone time while I am writing. I also love my time when my wife has read my draft and we get to talk about it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.