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Being a Gatherer

I think a lot building friendships with women out who women who have contrasting opinions to mine and hold diverse values. I used to be afraid of what (and who) was different than I was, but now I recognize the radical benefit that a new perspective brings.

I don't want to minimize the significance of seeking out and building these types of relationships, but today I want to talk about the importance of having deep relationships with women who are likeminded. Women who do hold similar beliefs and convictions - not exactly the same, of course, but women who are heading the same direction. These are the women that challenge me to move deeper in my faith, build me up when I am sitting too long in the struggle and accept me for all I am and all I am not.

This is my tribe.

Scripture tells us to "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2). What is the law of Christ? To love one another - the greatest commandment behind loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind.

Do you have women in your circle who bear burdens with you?

We were made to crave community. Introverted or extroverted, fellowship with other believers is vital to a vibrant walk with God. It is in these relationships that we learn how to share, minister, love and serve. It is in these relationships that we see our sinfulness, recognize our need for Jesus and also experience the love of Jesus.

For a long time I thought meaningful spiritual fellowship was unimportant to me - that all I needed was some girlfriends to go to dinner with every once in a while. But could I suggest that a deep kind of fellowship with other believers is actually extremely important because God used this kind of fellowship to change the world?

The Lord chose to use the friendship that Jesus had with twelve deeply flawed, selfish men that left everything behind to follow in His footsteps. These men worked out their struggles and misunderstandings together... with Jesus. These were men with whom Jesus walked out His everyday, monotonous life. These were men who followed Him, questioned Him and served alongside Him.

These relationships - the relationship that Jesus cultivated with these men - changed history.

If relationships - deep, personal and healing relationships - weren't important to God, why would He have chosen this avenue to change the world? Why would He have created us with the deep desire for community, a need to be understood?

But friendship is hard, sometimes complicated and doesn't exactly fit into our schedule most of the time. They take time to start, to maintain and to grow, valuing quality over quantity. We can be friendly to everyone but it is impossible to have meaningful friendships with everyone. There are only so many hours in a day, and our family is our obvious priority, but what are we doing to seek out and encourage those women that are in our inner most circle? Are we checking on them where they are? Are we letting them see our own real life?

The blessing of deep friendship is to be known right where you are - despite all your struggles, insecurities and idiosyncrasies. But we can experience this blessing if we don't let people in. And we can't bless others with our friendship if we don't make time to know others.

The church was founded on relationships that were established through the making of disciples - the same challenge Jesus gave us at the very end of His time here on earth. The gospel was built through this model. We cannot act as if deeper relationships are unimportant to the furthering of the gospel, let alone to the filling of our own empty souls enabling us to pour out the love of Christ on others.

Friends, we need to start gathering our people. We need to sit with people that are like-minded and after Jesus, walking together to learn and pray. Like I said earlier, seeking out those who are different is an important relational avenue too. But in a world full of division, we must make time to build one another up within our circles. We have to decide that this is important for our own walk with Christ as well as our ability to share a more well-rounded gospel with the world.

Women need a safe place to wrestle out loud with parts of scripture that don't make sense to our worldly hearts, the parts that are tough to swallow. There are many places of scripture that I would rather sweep under the rug than take the time to understand well. I know Satan wants me to act like the hard parts don't exist - but instead, what if we tried taking it to our friends to press through with them? They often offer new thoughts, encouraging words and fresh perspectives. Or perhaps all they can give is a simple "I don't know, but let's pray through this together." Either way we know we are not alone.

"This is how the world changes - little by little, table by table, meal by meal, hour by hour. This is how we chip away at isolation, loneliness, fear. This is how we connect, in big and small ways - we do it around the table." -Shauna Niequist

There's something so magical about not feeling alone, isn't there? There's something beautiful that happens when we gather our people to laugh loud, love well and pray hard. There is something wonderful that takes place in our souls when we pray through hard seasons together and watch our tribe overcome struggles hand in hand.

Let this post be a challenge to you this week. A challenge to gather your people, or even simply your person. Gather together, talk about the easy and the hard. Give her a phone call instead of a text. Let her know you are thinking of her and want to encourage her. Check in with your people. Everyone needs to know that they are prayed for - especially in the tough seasons.

If you find yourself without people in this season, let's start praying for your people together. It would be my honor to pray with you for that. I prayed for many seasons and God has abundantly brought some very special people in my life over time. Remember - it is not quantity. We need to count ourselves incredibly blessed if we have one deep relationship that has formed within our hearts.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34, 35


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