It is a beautiful Friday in Georgia. The sky is blue and the sun is shining so bright through my office window. It seems brighter today almost as my Father reminds me how important He considers community.
So important, that even from the beginning, God felt that man needed a helper:
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
How often, as parents, do we think that we can make it on our own? From our planners to our smart phone reminders, we think, “I’ve got this, I just need to make it through the day . . . “ Unfortunately, I have wasted too many days thinking like this.
Another day becomes another day becomes another day until the inevitable happens and life begins to feel like a lesson in futility. What is the age old saying “survival of the fittest?”
But I would like to suggest that God didn’t create us just to “survive”, He created us to “thrive.” And I believe we need community to make this happen.
So who makes up the community that helps us to thrive?
God – Our Creator, the One who knew us in our mother’s womb. Yes, even our Heavenly Father exemplifies community for us in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prays that, “All of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. And in verse 23 “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” He calls us to be one in Him not only so we can be with Him but so that the love given to Him will be in us. His Love becomes our love. Through this gift, we begin to truly understand what unconditional love looks like as we learn to love with The Father’s love.
God reveals Himself to us through His Word and prayer, nature and through the loving actions of others. Not a day goes by that our Father doesn’t reveal Himself to those who love Him. In parenting, this becomes an eternal gift as we share the love He gives with our children.
Family and friends –As parents, we have an amazing opportunity to see a sliver of our Father’s love as we too learn to love as He loved us first. As children, we have the opportunity to receive His love from those placed in authority over us. This doesn’t have to be a blood bond necessarily. Family takes all shapes and sizes, even represented in the friendships we are given, and is a blessing from the One who created us first. His Love courses through those He placed in our lives, in the actions of serving, encouragement and friendship.
At family and friendly gatherings, laughter fills the air as we catch up on the little and the large things in life. We seek to encourage and lift each other up and set an example for future generations to follow as we seek to serve and love one another.
Family of Faith – Such a beautiful gift we are given as we recognize those He placed in our community of faith. Prayer partners, life givers, mentors, fellow serving hands and feet, this community encourages as we feel the Power in the vine which Jesus placed us. Like a conduit, we pass His Love from one to another and have the opportunity not only to be blessed but to be a blessing to others as we get to watch the Hand of God move. Paul instructs in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage one another and build each other up . . .” and Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I am so blessed to be part of a community of believers who pray and pour into one another. When my son was first arrested, our small group surrounded Tony and I covering us in prayer. Never once did I doubt that The Lord wasn’t with us through every step we took. And it was through the Love that God shared through the community of family, friends and faith that we began to heal and have confidence that God would see us through this challenging time.
We are promised that we will meet many challenges on the road of life. And when we allow ourselves to be surrounded with community, we can meet our challenges head-on, with confidence. Whether new to parenting or an empty-nester, allow God to bless you through the communities which you have been placed.
Father, thank You for the beauty of community. Thank You Lord that we do not have to strive to do life alone but that we can thrive as we seek You, as You love through us and as we serve one another. Father, I pray that You will draw us closer to You and to one another. I pray that You will strengthen the bonds of community which You have blessed us and give us a greater understanding of the unity You have called us to in John 17.