Family, Community, and the Blessing of Being Connected

Everybody is alright, but yesterday we had a bit of a scare. My sister started feeling ill all of a sudden. We had to call 911 for an ambulance and then she was carted off to the emergency room.

To say that I was a little freaked by it would be somewhat of an understatement. I am not typically an outwardly emotive person. I like to think that I can and do remain composed in difficult situations. However, when your little sister, who is a nurse, is in some medical distress and she does not know what’s going on, you can get flustered. And I did.

I was at the office when my dad left to go check up on her. She had finished her night shift at the hospital and was sleeping at my parent’s house. For those who do not know, I serve as a pastor in the church my father planted in 2007. So, when he goes to the house and I get a call from my mom not to minutes later, alarms start to go off in my head. As I sit in my office, trying to figure out what is going on, I decide to just go over to the house. I knew that is where I needed to be.

As my wife and I were watching our nephews (she had decided to come over as well thank goodness), this thought came to my mind: I am glad that I was close enough to jump into action.

It has been a long time since I lived close to family. These last two years have been especially nice for us as a family. And, it’s when things like this happen that you begin to understand how important family is. But, I also realized how important it is to be and stay connected with those who, while not blood relations, provide a stabilizing effect on your family.

There are three comforts I believe we can enjoy when we stay connected with others in close relationship.

1. When we are connected we are never alone.

The world can be a lonely place. It can be so easy to get disconnected and to miss out on so many wonderful things. Life was never meant to be lived alone. God, from the very beginning, understood that it was not good for people to be alone.

One of the greatest tactics of the enemy of our souls is to tell us and trick us into isolation. When we are separated from one another we are vulnerable. When we are are cut off from the rest of our community we are susceptible to believing lies and half-truths. Our community can provide a counter-measure to our insecurities and doubts and fears. When we are surrounded by others who love us, we can face far more difficulties than we ever thought possible.

2. When we are connected we learn to appreciate those who chose us.

It is true that when things get hard for us is when we know who are friends are. Many people are friendly. Many people can be counted on to offer kind words and even encouragement. But, there are some people in our lives who show up unasked. Who do without being told. Who are ready to enter into the hell of your circumstances and wait with you for it pass.

It is then, at that moment, when you you know you have found a friend. I am not trying to discount what many people do. I am pointing to a specific kind of friendship that we all need. We need to have friends like this but, we should also be friends like this.

3. When we are connected we share life with others.

This is, in the final evaluation, what we should be striving for. We should not only be looking to provide support or help to others. We should be offering ourselves.

This is Christ’s example. Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Jesus humbled himself and became like a servant for our sake. Jesus was not trying to impress anyone, he was trying to impress upon us the importance of forming bonds with others that go beyond the physical to the spiritual. A friendship forged in the fires of faith are destined to last.

I am fortunate to count my siblings among my friends. This may not be true for everyone. However, this does not mean that we can not cultivate deep, meaningful, and enriching friendships with those in our churches. It can be a risk. And, it can be scary. But, in the long run it will most certainly be worth it.

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