Life is a journey. It has its share of twists and turns, valleys, and mountain tops, days filled with sunshine and days so dark you can’t seem to see your hand in front of you. Trials are inevitable. Even Jesus told his disciples that we would have troubles in this world. So if times of testing will come, how are we to navigate through those difficult seasons?
First, let me tell you how NOT to attempt making it through the storms of life. It is something I have seen people do time and again and it always breaks my heart. All too often, people will run and hide from others. Why does that happen? The answer is simple. The enemy of our souls loves to isolate God’s people from each another. So he waits for the perfect opportunity…for those times when a person becomes overwhelmed by the trials and storms of life. He comes in and begins to spew what I call the “If people really knew” lies. Those lies sound like this:
If people really knew…
how bad your marriage is…
what a mess your kids are…
that your finances are in shambles…
that your spouse lost another job…and on and on and on!
Sound familiar? We have all heard these lies at one time or another in our lives. The sad part is that if someone does not have a strong support system in place, the lie is taken …hook, line, and sinker! As a result, the person retreats into his or her isolated shell because they are convinced that if others really knew the mess they were dealing with, they would be judged, shamed or pitied.
So back to my question. How does one navigate through those hard places in life? I believe one of the keys to making it through is knowing that you are not alone.
Think about this. On a battlefield you never see one isolated soldier take on an entire opposing army of soldiers on his own. It is ludicrous to think he would stand a chance. My friends, believe it or not, we are in a war…a spiritual war…every single day. To think we can do battle effectively on our own is no more ridiculous than the scenario of the isolated soldier. It is imperative that we remain in fellowship with others.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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. –Hebrews 10: 24-25
This passage in the book of Hebrews gives us an exhortation telling us not to give up on meeting together. It goes on to say that some are in the “habit” of doing this very thing. Hmmm…I don’t know about you but when I read this verse, it is pretty clear that we are not to be an island unto ourselves. We were created for FELLOWSHIP!
If we look at Genesis 1: 26-27, we see that fellowship was God’s plan for mankind from the beginning. In this particular scripture reference, God created mankind…male and female…and instructed them to be fruitful and multiply.
God’s intention for man was never to live alone.
Isolation was not his plan in the Garden and it is not his plan for his people today.
So if fellowship is vital to Christian living, how are we to do that? Where do we do that?
A good Bible teaching church.
Being proactive and inviting another sister to sit and talk over a cup of coffee.
Friends, having fellowship is not meant to be complicated, difficult or stressful. The suggestions I have mentioned are just a few basic but very important ways to find others who are like-minded and are striving to live a fruitful and victorious Christian life. In doing so you can be built up, encouraged, strengthened not just in the stormy seasons but every single day.
I know what some of you may be thinking right now. You are reading this and thinking to yourself, “I am not a ‘social’ kind of person. I just don’t do well in group settings.” My friend, please hear me on this. This is not about being “social.” This is about SURVIVAL! The fiery darts of the enemy are flying and we are the target. The wolf is on the prowl for the one isolated or weakest sheep from the flock. We will never be able to fight those spiritual battles effectively without a group of people who we can depend on to pray us through, stand shoulder to shoulder with, and even hold us accountable in those fierce battles.
Again, a soldier does not isolate himself. He stays with his battalion. A soldier does not wait until the war has started and then try to find men to do battle with him. He joins up and stays connected to his fellow soldiers before he finds himself face to face with the enemy! Don’t try to do warfare alone. Be willing to let others into your life no matter how messy things get.
Please understand that I am not advocating you use every form of social media and tell the world that your spouse left you…or your son is back in jail…or your daughter has an addiction to drugs…or any other number of things that bring a crisis into your life. But, my friend, you need people you can trust, true friends who will love you through the mess, to come alongside you when your world is being shattered.
There is one last thought I want to share regarding the beauty of fellowship. It is like a diamond that is hidden within a piece of coal waiting to be discovered. That gem is the gift of friendship which will shine a light in your darkest moments. I wrote a blog post entitled “Listen for the Bell” awhile back which I will share with you through this link. I think you will find the story to be a beautiful example of what meaningful fellowship is about.
Dear friends, hear me on this truth because I speak from experience. Over many years of various trials and engaging in one spiritual battle after another, I have learned this fact. There is no way that you can bare your soul to another person, pray with that person, cry with that person, or stand in the trenches of war with someone, without that relationship being forged into something far more precious than mere fellowship.
Something beautiful happens as you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable with others. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you will find yourself blessed with a precious friendship you never even knew you needed. This type of friendship, however, will never develop unless you take that first step of faith to become a part of some type of fellowship.
In my book, Nuggets from the Heart, I devoted a chapter to sharing the story of one of my closest and dearest friendships. This friendship has grown stronger in the thirteen years that my friend and I have known one another. But do you know how it started? My dear friend took a step of faith in her search for fellowship when she joined a prayer group in my home when I lived in Illinois. Long after the prayer group no longer met, Lori and I have remained closely connected in heart and spirit. If you ever want to read that story, my book is available for purchase at this link.
If you are reading this today and you feel overwhelmed with problems but have no one to talk to, my advice is, first of all, to pray. Seek God for answers. In your prayers, ask him to bring at least one or two other people alongside you that will stand with you. Yes, in time the battle will be over and you may be thinking that you will wait it out alone. But believe me when I say this. There will be another battle in time. That is life. Don’t wait until you are surrounded by an army of evil only to find yourself doing battle alone again and again. Finding fellowship is not about joining a social club but rather about finding a community of like-minded believers who will be there for you no matter what you face tomorrow.
So in closing, I challenge you to step out in faith to pursue the gift of fellowship. I promise you the rewards it will bring are very likely to be some of the richest blessings in your life.
You are invited to read what other sisters at Telling Hearts have shared on the subject of FELLOWSHIP:
Maryann Lorts emphasizes need to understand and admit the need for fellowship:Fellowship: Accepting The Need
Jerusha Borden shares insight into the realities of church fellowship and also inspires us to take the time to get to know the stories around us: Fellowship Series: Life Group Changes Everything, Stories
Stacey Wells is an encouragement and consoles us as she shares humbly about her journey to find fellowship and to keep her focus on God and family first: When Fellowship is a Journey, I Had to Lay My Isaac Down
Tammy SD summarizes the definition of fellowship and speaks to being persistent in the pursuit of GOOD and WONDERFUL fellowship: Good Fellowship vs. Mediocre or Bad, Introduction to Telling Hearts Fellowship Series, 6/2018