The Lord is faithful. I’ve seen this much.
My friend Grace put my heart into words in a way I hadn’t been able to when she said that it seemed like I felt as though God had blessed me so richly in Alaska that I didn’t see how he could do the same in Georgia. I was staggered by her words that had supposedly come from what I told her, but she hit the nail on the head even though I hadn’t even realized it.
Now that thought doesn’t make sense when I take into account what I know to be true about the character of God, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the heart of my fear. And she called it out. That is why we must live in community and share our hearts, ya’ll. She called out my fear so that I could battle it. When we give our anxiety a name, we can defeat it with the declarations of our mighty savior Jesus.
As we prepared to move, I heard God whisper, if I take it all away, am I enough? And I knew my yes had to be a YES. And so I braced myself for a desert.
I share this with you all now because so many of you have prayed for us. For blessing and new mercies and abundant life wherever the Lord takes us. And I come to you today saying He is faithful. I see it. I see it already.
I braced myself for a desert, but God in his kindness has given me a rich spring, in the very land I thought would certainly be a wilderness.
I shouldn’t be surprised. [I’m pressing on for a life where I’m not surprised when my cup overflows.]
Do you ever consider how the Lord prepares places for us? The Designer is not rolling with the punches, but he has orchestrated and written down each of our days before they have even been thought of by us. The Lord prepared a place for us in Georgia. This is clear to me. I am so thankful that he brought us to Eden Church.
I am convinced that there is nothing like the body of Christ, the family of God.
I have spoken to a lot of people in the past few years about making friends, the challenges of it, especially after college. In an increasingly global and connected society, why is it that so many 20-somethings feel that they should’ve been warned and prepared for the difficulty of making real friendships after college?
Because we are surrounded by fake. We are immersed constantly in each other’s lives. But none of those interactions are of substance. They inherently lack depth and therefore leave us feeling empty and longing for more. So we pursue relationship through apps, social media followers, and the party scene, and we try to fill that longing with food, materialism, travel, pornography…the list goes on. I think it’s safe to say our generation has tried it all when it comes to fulfillment – most generations probably have if we’re being honest. But I have heard countless attest that it’s all empty. Ecclesiastes 1:14 says, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
I honestly don’t know or understand how people make deep relationships outside of the body of Christ unless they were from childhood, high school, or college – those times when friends are thrust upon us. But I just love how, when you’re part of the body of Christ, you should never be friendless. Now there may be seasons of feeling alone or unfamiliar or unknown, but those should not last if you are in Christ. Never have I seen relationships grow more rapidly than in the Church. A few years ago, when we started investing in real community, when we started giving not just our time, but also our hearts, emotions, doubts, fears, and struggles, to community, we saw our lives radically transformed. Life with Christ, but outside of his body, is never how he intended us to live. When we gave our whole selves to other people in the church, not foolishly, but with intentionality, wise authenticity, and vulnerability, we saw an overflow of deep, real friendship begin to pour out on our lives. Where before we felt loneliness and isolation, the Lord replaced it with not just a few friends, but an abundance.
And then he seemingly stripped it all away.
When we moved we prayed and our people prayed that we would find the same blessing in community that we had found at ACF. I don’t know if I believed it. When Grace said what she said I realized that I’m not sure I believed it was possible to get so lucky twice. I don’t think I realized this unbelief until she said it, but I am certain that’s what it was.
Abundant life in Christ felt like I had won the lottery, and no one wins the lottery twice.
At least that is what my subconscious reasoned. But that is not what we have learned in Christ! This lottery is so epic that, not only is it not just for a few lucky people, but we can unlock it at any moment, as often as we are willing to pursue it. Talk about a Father who gives good gifts to his children.
And I probably could’ve told you all that before the tracks were switched on us. But until I walked through it, I didn’t have a personal precedent to reference. We see this happen over and over and over again in the Bible with the nation of Israel, through Paul’s writings, and more. And though I know it may fall on uncertain ears due to no personal precedent for you too, I hope you might be able to hear me when I say, friend, you can win the lottery twice – more times and in more ways than you can imagine. Our Father has no cap on his “spending” and no desire to keep back for himself any good gift [“good” according to him, not me] from his precious kids. (Matthew 7:11, Luke 12:32)
But when we moved to Georgia, not only had the Lord prepared a place for us, but he pulled out all the stops. He brought us to a church that has blessed me more in a few weeks than I would’ve thought possible. As we came though the doors for the first time, it’s as if God said, let me show you how you can win the lottery again. And again. And again. And again, when you do life with me.
Once again I am blown away by the family of God. The barriers don’t exist when we do this family correctly, God’s way. What a beautiful thing! A family where you are known and accepted and loved the moment you say, “Here I am, flawed, but redeemed…nice to meet you.” And the rest of the family says SAME.
This is what the church should be, and what it is ALL OVER THE PLANET. And make no mistake, the Bride of Christ is alive and well. But we must seek her out. I would not be experiencing the blessing of being part of the family of God in the way that I am if I did not push myself in so. many. ways.
Satan lies to us through many avenues, and a good chunk of those lies are to keep us isolated, because Satan is well aware of the power and blessing that comes from living together in unity as the body of Christ. So he will tell you every lie he can twist up to keep you alone, isolated, and afraid…For example…
You will feel awkward.
You will be uncomfortable.
You won’t fit in.
You won’t be liked.
You don’t have time.
You would be more comfortable at home.
You are tired.
You don’t need people to help you.
You should clean your house. (REBUKE THAT)
They could never understand my story.
They would never accept me.
They don’t need you or want you.
Don’t show your emotions.
Don’t risk sounding foolish.
Don’t you dare expose your struggle to these people.
Or this…remember how you were burned last time?
That is all FEAR talking.
We must do battle against these lies to access the blessing that lies in living life in Christ’s community.
It will not be easy to step out. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But I’m here to tell you there is blessing on the other side. Right away. When you show up (not just physically, but emotionally and mentally), when you serve, when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and push past the awkward, immediate family lies on the other side. Not an earning, but an adopting.
The body of Christ isn’t perfect because it’s made up of humans – many messy people. But when you find a body that is pursuing Jesus, don’t run scared. Trust who they’re running after to be good, and try again. Even if you’ve been burned, even if it seems unlikely, even if it is hard, because it is so worth it. I’ve only lived here for five weeks and I’ve experienced it. It’s real, it happens, and it’s possible. But you’ve got to put in the work and battle the lies, or you will keep this opportunity for family at arm’s length for far too long or maybe forever.
Yes, feeling like you’ve known people for years after only knowing them for a month sounds impossible, like winning the lottery, but I’ve seen it happen once and now again in my life, and I’m nothing special. All I’ve done is try to be brave and do the things that feel hard, like showing up, speaking up, and stepping out, only because my Father is trustworthy and I can take risks with him. All I know is He hasn’t let me down yet.