There’s something powerful about being home, about being with family. You get the opportunity, especially after a time of confusion and deep reflection, to get back your bearings, to be reminded of who you are, and to be shoved toward who you’ll become. I think this is why God described the church, the body of Christ, as a family.
I was talking to Beth about what the biggest problem in the American Christian church is today, and she explained how we’re not of one mind. There are so many different views on doctrine and so many different denominations that it seems utterly impossible for the body of Christ to be united. Regardless, He desires us to be of one mind, a team, a body of individual parts all working together.
Philippians 2 says this: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (v. 1-5, ESV)
Wow! What a challenge!
I talked also to my mother and to Aunt Lori and to Jacob and to others, and they brought up things like losing our love for each other, losing our focus of what the whole point of being a Christian is, losing our passion for prayer, and losing our desire and disciple-like mind set of applying the things we learn to further maturity in our relationship with Christ rather than trying to “learn” maturity over time and through just plain knowledge.
The more I dwell on these things, the more amazed I am that I never knew just how broken up the body of Christ is. In Jeremiah 2 it says, “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey?” (v. 14). If we take this question of becoming prey and apply it to the body of Christ, it implies that the now victimized body was once a predator, a conqueror, a victoriously intimidating power that transformed lives and brought people to the feet of Christ, where they could then be introduced to this God that died for the state of their souls. What happened!? But of course all of this reflection comes down to what specifically I can do, as an individual, to encourage my brothers and sisters towards this mindset, furthering my relationship with Christ and understanding that Christ is to empower me via His love and His character and His sovereignty and His will, not the other way around. The only way I can encourage any of my brothers and sisters is if I’m taking my power and my understanding from the wisest and most powerful Being in all of existence forever and ever. I can’t affect the hearts of others if my heart isn’t in the right place, which is in the ever-so capable hands of Jesus Christ, my Savior.
Today, other than having these fantastically encouraging and challenging discussions on the preceding topic, I woke up and decided to bike to The Land. Now (and I believe I’ve mentioned this before) The Land is fourteen acres of forest and campground owned by my grandparents, used by my entire family. Whenever things seem to be getting a little out of hand, especially mentally and emotionally, I usually, if I can, go up there to isolate myself in the quietness of the woods, where it’s just me and God and nothing and no one else.
So I, because my parents both had the vehicles, decided to bike there. That was a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid idea.
Okay, it wasn’t THAT stupid, but my mindset going into it wasn’t very mature or wise by any means. “I’m in great shape. It doesn’t matter that it’s four miles uphill all the way there. It doesn’t matter that it’s hot and the sun is out and it’s noon. I am invincible!”
Before I tell you of the trip, however, I wish to tell of before the trip. My neighbor, who is Native American, was mowing his front lawn. I hadn’t spoken to him in a while, not since I’d been home. For some idiotically pathetic reason, I was tempted to avoid talking to him, to go a different way so I wouldn’t have to engage in conversation. When I realized it was Satan being an idiot, I was like “well, ya know what that means!”
So I deliberately pushed my bike to the sidewalk in front of where my neighbor was mowing, waited very patiently until I got his attention, and had a really nice, wonderful talk with him. It’s not even that it was about Jesus, or about theology, but I was able to just be in his life, and that’s important. I’m so glad, looking back, that God gave me the awareness and the courage. I know it’s a small thing, but it was a big deal to me.
Anyway, about half way through the trip to The Land my legs tightened up and I felt like my muscles were tying themselves into knots. I hopped off my bike and walked it the rest of the way. I know, I’m pathetic. I was tempted to just turn around and walk back, and God was all like “My girl does not give up. I’ll give you the strength.” Needless to say, I got there perfectly fine, with plenty of energy left, a fresh mind, and minimal sunburn 😀
While I was pushing my bike up the road that led to the entrance, I found that the dirt road had been tilled, so the ground was uneven and thick. With the sun beating down and the heaviness of the pack on my back and the unevenness of the ground, I felt like I was Frodo climbing up Mount Doom in the dead heat of Mordor.
I walked my bike in, “parked” it, slipped off my sneakers and socks, and walked down to the pond, stopping every once in a while to listen to the emptiness of the air, to the silence of the trees and the whisper of the wind, to the quiet dialogue exchanged between birds and the subtle rustling of leaves as this hidden world was disturbed by my presence.
When I arrived at the pond, I set myself up on the edge of the dock, putting my feet in the water, drinking from my water bottle and munching on pretzels and a green apple. And I sat.
After a while, I broke the silence and began talking to God, sorting everything out and putting it all before Him, exposing my errors and my flaws, my shortfalls and my mistakes, until there was nothing left. I read through the beginnings of Jeremiah. I looked around and listened. I sang to God and talked to Him and listened for His whisper in my heart.
Riding my bike back was much easier than riding it there, mostly because everything was downhill. I almost lost control once, going down hill too fast and hitting a rough patch, but God instilled strength in my arms and I was able to maintain control of the front wheel. When I got home, I was exhausted. But Gracie and Jimmy and my father got home shortly after I did, and I had been wanting to spend time with them for a while. So I challenged Gracie to a game of Just Dance.
It was such a God thing that I had any energy left to even walk, much less to play Just Dance with Gracie. Afterwards, after my everything was absolutely drenched in sweat and my stomach was growling like a jaguar in a cello, after Mom got home from work and my father left for work, I helped set things up for dinner and cycled the laundry and hopped in the shower.
During dinner, I was voicing my frustrations about a certain situation, knowing that I was completely helpless to mend a certain relationship appropriately, my brother, who’s twelve-years-old, looked across the table at me and said, “Hunter, you’re home. It’s summer time for you. You have nothing to do. You just need to relax.”
Coming from the youngest in the family this had a huge effect on me, and as Gracie and Mom talked about all the things they do to relax, I began to realize how silly I was being. So, after dinner, I grabbed Knowing God and a few other books and sat on the couch, relaxing and reading with Gracie and thinking of nothing. This was also after talking to Beth and to Jacob and also to Hannah, discussions which encouraged me very much and reminded me that I’m home.
Speaking of Hannah! I get to see her tomorrow! 😀 She’s visiting her grandmother (Grandma Pat), who lives just a few blocks from me. So I will be spending the day with them tomorrow. Also, my mother, Gracie, and I are going to the movies with them for some much-needed girl time 🙂 How cool is that? I’m going to get to see my best friend, spend time with my non-biological grandmother, and then go out with a bunch of wonderful women of God. I would say God is taking care of me 🙂
Through all of this craziness, through all of emotional nonsense, through all of this doubt, God has come out on the other side. And, the silly part is, I don’t know why I thought He wouldn’t. It’s interesting and kind of impossible to see how God reaffirms His truth and His love through the words of others, through the love and encouragement and patience of other people who I love and who love me. There’s something powerful about being home 🙂
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” —2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV