Our study has been on a break for the holidays and I’ve got to tell you, I was ready for a little break. Please don’t misunderstand, I LOVE our studies and I LOVE Thistlebend, but sometimes it’s just good to have a break from the normal routine. And it’s great to gain an extra morning of the week where there’s nothing already scheduled. As the new year has begun, I’m realizing more and more the need for consistent community, however.
I’ve always somewhat prided myself on being an independent person. If I actually want to be, I can be pretty disciplined to do things—to a fault really. I can set a plan and make it happen. The Lord keeps bringing to mind this sermon that I heard a few months ago at my church about children and having a childlike dependence on the Lord. One of the things the pastor said was that it was actually very hard to teach how to be dependent, but if he was telling us how not to be dependent he would tell us not to pray. That line has just stuck with me. My husband and I talked about our goals for the new year and one of the things we talked about was this dependence that our pastor was speaking of. I had told my husband I wanted to be more fervent in prayer. When thinking about goals, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 came to mind more specifically which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” A week or so later our church was doing a “New Year” sermon, and I realized then that I did not put forth that much of an effort or plan out how I was going to reach this goal that I was wanting for 2017. You know why that is? Because my hope was in myself and my discipline and independence to actually achieve this goal. Another reason is because I wasn’t seeking out any community for accountability.
While you could say that my independence has always been praised (by this world) it’s desperately hurting me for many reasons. (1) The truth is, I’m actually not independent like I believe that I am. Scripture says that apart from Christ I am nothing. (2) This fake independence that I believe to have keeps me from praying and asking the Lord for help; it keeps me from depending on Him. (3) It keeps me from actively being in community with others. Because I don’t feel like I need anyone to say anything to encourage me to enact a plan, I isolate myself from others sometimes. And let me be really honest here, I don’t like telling people what I’m struggling with. I like telling them after the problem has been “fixed.”
But the Christian life is not one of independence, thankfully, even though my flesh wants it to be. The Christian life is lived in the body of Christ. I say all of this because I need to hear it. I’m so thankful that Thistlebend promotes this community and this sharing and this dependence on the Lord and on each other.
What does this dependence on the Lord in community look like practically? For me, it’s being vulnerable enough to say to some friends, I want to be completely dependent on the Lord in all things and I want to pray about all things and I need your help to do this. I don’t pray like I should, I am not as obedient as I should be, and I am in desperate need of God’s grace. And it’s asking for help in the exact moment when I know I should pray and I don’t want to. It’s not telling someone that earlier today I wanted to pray and I made myself; that’s being independent. It’s texting a friend in the moment and saying, “I don’t want to do this. Will you please pray?” That vulnerability in the mundane moments creates dependence and it fosters community, true community all centered on the Lord. Needless to say I’m really thankful that study is getting ready to start again because I’m seeing how much I really do need it.
Do you have community that encourages and prays for you like this? Do you have others you can share with vulnerably? We’d love to hear what your groups do to encourage each other! Leave comments! And if you don’t have a community of believers you’re involved with, we’d like to hear that too and try to help you have community within the body of Christ!
Planted for His Glory