Yesterday I shared about how the Lord is leading me and some friends into sweet depths of biblical fellowship, and the inspiring humility I’m watching develop in our new church. As people are interacting on this topic, I’m realizing it may be one worth further exploring on this blog. So that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days.
Years ago, Kenneth Maresco, a pastor friend of ours did a message on the topic of relationships among Christians. He said something that has stuck with me for almost two decades:
Having fellowship with others is not about who you’re with but who you are.
When I heard this message I had a difficult time understanding it. At the time Benny and I were enjoying friendships with a tight group of couples. Nearly 15 years ago that season ended and most of us now live in various parts of the country. Since then, I’ve had to start over twice with new friendships — and it’s been challenging. I didn’t have history with these folks. There had been no laugh-till-we-cried halarity. We hadn’t “done life” together. There were no pictures of these new faces in my photo albums.
Then Kenneth’s words came back to me: Who I am needed to be my focus, not who I was with.
I knew what I needed to do. I started opening up my heart and confessing my struggles. It was risky. I didn’t know how they would respond. There were tinges of fear that I wouldn’t accepted or my confessions (especially as their pastor’s wife) would surprise or disappoint these new friends. As I opened up my heart and invited them to do the same, something delightful happened. They demonstrated love, compassion and care. And they started opening up their lives as well. Each of these ladies in my “Growth Group” still hold a special place in my heart because God used them to give me friends again. (And I have pictures of them in my photo albums.)
Now I’m starting over yet again. This time, I’m inching toward age 60! But something wonderful is happening. Faith is rising in my heart. I’m finding that biblical fellowship can thrive with people who aren’t like me. In the past, my God-chosen circle of relationships have primarily been with women in my season of life. However, the “Redeemer Girls” are primarily women who are half my age: single, married with young children, working outside the home, homeschooling a houseful, or divorced…with a few other “older women” in our little church.
Are you, too, in a season of change? Are you tempted to think that relationships would be better or easier or more enjoyable if you could handpick them? Do you find your heart missing a time in your life when friendships were dear? Are you afraid you won’t have “that” again?
I probably know how you feel. But how wonderful to know that we have a Friend who is there for us during times of providential loneliness. (More on that later.) And that biblical fellowship with others can actually begin with us! As we open up our heart –including our temptations, struggles, sins and questions — to the Lord we find the courage to risk opening up our lives to others.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:7). What a precious promise.