I love reading your comments on these reflections, especially when I share something I am struggling with. It encourages me. As I replied to one commenter a few days ago, “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one–in fact I think being in community is something else that helps me stay on the altar.”
That reaction of mine has made me think more about how connecting with others keeps all of us from slinking away from God.
This really is God’s pattern from the start.** Throughout the Old Testament, the two poles of sacrifice and feasting are never solitary activities. God’s chosen people [not person, mind you, but people] are called to gather together as they make their offerings and celebrate the holy days.
In the gospels, one of the first things Jesus does is to call twelve followers, forming a traveling band. They saw Him heal, they heard Him preach, they watched Him pray [before they fell asleep!].
The author of Hebrews gives us a whole chapter of examples of faith** and encourages us to persevere “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” Then he reminds us:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
Study how He did it.
Because He never lost sight of where He was headed
—that exhilarating finish in and with God—
He could put up with anything along the way:
Cross, shame, whatever.
And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith,
go over that story again, item by item,
that long litany of hostility He plowed through.
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
[Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message]
That’s why we need each other.
We need to hear the stories
and unexpected sorrow
and of God’s amazing grace
and the Holy Spirit working in power.
We need to know that we aren’t the only one.
There are many types of stories and different ways to share
- Sometimes the story is small–a brief anecdote about God’s faithfulness or even just a simple ‘yes’ in a comment box.
- Sometimes it’s one chapter of a longer story. This year I’ve been meeting once a month with three other women. We come together to share the highs and the lows in our lives, and the areas where we’re hoping for growth. Then we spend some time praying for each other.
- And sometimes we can read a fellow traveler’s real-life story in a book. What better way to spend a lazy summer day than to discover how another person has followed Jesus through thick and thin.
What about you?
What stories do you have to share about how has God been loving you this week?
Whose story inspires you? Are there good memoirs or biographies that have encouraged you to keep following Jesus? I’d love hear your recommendations—and tomorrow I’ll share some of mine.
Links and Notes
**Even a program for something as earthbound as losing weight, like the Lose It app, comes with a community component. The app encourages you to add friends so you can share your progress and get support.
**Hebrews 11 gives a who’s who in Old Testament obedience from Abel to Samuel.
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