Never alone

Later this month, I’ll mark the 26th anniversary of my family’s move to Georgia. My tenure in the home my late husband Ray and I chose as our “raise-the-kids” house will then surpass by a decade my second-longest-term abode, the house I grew up in. Neighbors have come and gone over the years and I’ve watched several crops of children, including my own dear daughters, grow up. Currently, the homes around my cul-de-sac are filled with a pleasant mix of young families and empty-nesters.

IMG_6001I was working in my garden one recent afternoon, when my youngest neighbor, sweet-spirited Sadie, paid me a visit. We were chatting about flowers and butterflies and bumblebees when she suddenly asked, “Do you have a husband?” I replied, “I used to, but he’s already in heaven. He planted a lot of my trees. That’s why I love them so much.” As I watched, belatedly realizing I’d given a much-too-detailed reply to her simple question, her countenance was overshadowed by a pensive consternation. Nonetheless, before I had a chance to offer up something more appropriate, Sadie’s expression brightened once again as she assured me, “But you’re not alone! You have lots of people around you!” I immediately followed up with, “You’re right! I have such good neighbors.”

With this, we took turns naming all the folks who live around us. Sadie finished the list, “And Sophie!” Yes, the boisterous ball of fluffy white fur, canine companion to our newest neighbors, is an established part of the mix. With our conversation thus concluded, Sadie skipped happily across the street and up her driveway.

I’ve reflected on our exchange several times since. It was such a life-giving reminder of the blessing of community. Created in the image of our Triune God, we are meant to live in relationship with Him and others. Early on, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Although the Genesis account refers specifically to Adam’s need of a suitable helpmate (wife), it’s also clear the animals couldn’t provide the requisite companionship fellow human beings could.[1] People need people. We’re not meant to navigate life alone.

Sometimes it’s tempting to try, especially if you’re an introvert or an I-can-handle-this-myself type. Or maybe you figure everyone else is busy with their own responsibilities and you don’t want to be a bother. Or perhaps you’ve gotten your feelings hurt one time too many and decided to withdraw. (Please note: each of these scenarios has applied to me at some point in my life and most likely will again!) Whatever your rationale might be, Scripture is full of passages on the importance of relationships as well as how to treat each other. We’re told to love our neighbors as ourselves,[2] to consider others’ needs before our own,[3] to share and forgive and encourage.[4]

In addition to our biological families, those who belong to God are part of a spiritual family, with unique benefits and obligations. For example:

  • The Apostle Paul says believers form the Body of Christ on earth, with each having a specific role, just as the various parts of our physical bodies have a critical part in keeping us healthy and alive. We are called to use our gifts and abilities to benefit others and to refrain from comparing ourselves to our brothers and sisters whose gifts and abilities are different.[5]
  • We’ve been adopted into the very family of God and are being conformed more and more into the image of our elder Brother, Jesus, the firstborn Son.[6] We are assured of an eternal inheritance and an eternal Home.[7]
  • Though spending time with God individually is essential to our spiritual growth and transformation, Hebrews 10:24-25 clearly states the necessity of corporate worship: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
  • There are numerous passages encouraging believers to pray for one another. Such supplications can unite us, even when we’re unable to be together physically.[8] Furthermore, Scripture tells us we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, those who’ve gone before us, persevering in the faith. [9]
  • We are blessed with the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide and counsel us. [10] Apart from this divine Helper, we’d have no hope of pleasing God; with Him, our sanctification and, ultimately, our glorification, are ensured. [11]

Throughout most of my career, I traveled to visit customers. Early on, there were no cell phones, much less apps like “Find Friends”. Sometimes I’d be driving on a dark, lonely stretch of road when a stark realization would enter my thoughts: “No one in the whole world knows where I am right now.” But, just as quickly, a comforting reassurance followed: “God knows.” And so it is for all his children. We’re never out of his sight.[12]

Family and friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, a loving Father, a selfless older Brother, the indwelling Spirit – sweet Sadie is so right. I’m not alone, ever!

 

[1] Genesis 2:18-23

[2] Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27

[3] Philippians 2:3-4

[4] Luke 6:27-38

[5] 1 Corinthians 12

[6] Ephesians 1:3-5, Romans 8:29

[7] 1 Peter 1:3-5, John 14:2-3

[8] See for example, Ephesians 6:18-19, Colossians 1:3-14, Colossians 4:2-4

[9] Hebrews 12:1-2. Note, this passage begins with “Therefore”, referring back to the long list of bygone saints who lived by faith.

[10] John 14:15-17, 25-26

[11] 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 2 Peter 1:3-11

[12] Psalm 33:18, Psalm 34:15

2 thoughts on “Never alone

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