Last week my wife and I moved our family from central Florida to the Tampa Bay area. In the process of moving we had to take apart pieces of furniture at our old home and then put them back together at our new home. One of these pieces of furniture is our daughter’s crib. Now, taking the crib apart is easy, but putting it back together is another story. I learned from our last move that keeping the directions handy is a must and you definitely need two people in order to hold some of the bigger pieces together. When I decided to embark on the process of putting the crib together at our new home, I was already in a bad mood. I’ve moved a few times in my life, but never with two kids, two dogs, and across the entire state of Florida. What seemed like an already daunting process turned into an on-edge, mood killing, stress filled experience. My wife, filled with the patience of GOD, always had a calming remark for me every time I tripped over a box or got irritated with one of the kids. This in turn made me more agitated. Ok, back to the crib. So, I got my tools, grabbed the directions, and sat down on my daughters floor, ALONE, to put together her crib. The first few pieces were easy, but as I started combining some of the bigger pieces together that hold the crib in place, I realized I was going to need a second set of hands. In my mind, I knew I needed help, but my attitude and pride refused to ask my wife for any. After about twenty minutes struggling with attaching the same two pieces, my wife walked into the room and calmly asked, “Do you want me to hold this side?” I grunted “no”, but she held it anyway and within about two minutes the entire crib was put together.
GOD showed me an amazing lesson in this story: We are built for relationships. Like it or not, you were not created to walk this world alone. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” This scripture gets quoted a lot in premarital classes and at weddings, but it is more than just a marriage scripture, it is a way of life. GOD never intended His children to do anything alone. Whether we are celebrating or grieving, life should be lived together. GOD even promises in the book of Hebrews that He “will never leave you nor forsake you.” Why else would Jesus right before He is to be crucified tell the disciples that He is sending the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, helper, and guide. We were built for relationships. Relationship with GOD the Father and relationships with those around us. We can’t successfully fulfill the destiny that GOD has put on our life if we don’t interact or embrace the people that GOD has put around us.
When you become a new Christian, or even if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, relationships are vital to your Christian development and growth. GOD designed each one of us with attributes that can only be grown through interactions with others. Some relationships grow us spiritually and lead us closer to GOD. Others relationships, GOD uses to thicken our skin. What I mean by this is some relationships nurture and push us closer to GOD. That might be through prayer or meaningful conversation or even just someone who helps keep you accountable spiritually. Then there are those relationships that are meant to grow the thickness of your skin. Some people are strategically placed in your life to teach you grace, mercy, and unconditional love. Both types of relationships are necessary, but not always fun.
When I look back on my crib experience, it would have been much easier if I would have just asked for help from the beginning. In my stubbornness I wasted time trying to do something alone when in reality the job required two people. We all need relationships to accomplish the purposes that GOD has put before us. Even Jesus needed the 12 disciples the help fulfill His purpose of coming and dying on the cross for the entire world. Don’t let stubbornness or timidity keep you from experiencing the fullness of your calling by keeping you alone. We are built for relationships.
Over the next several weeks and months, Anchor Movement is going to focus on a series called “Back to the Basics” where we answer and define what it actually means to be a Christian. We want to answer some of the questions that new and old believers have in their walk of faith. Some examples include, “How to study the Bible,” and “Why should I go to church.” If you have a question you’d like us to answer or explore on the blog, go to our connect page and leave your response or visit our Instagram page here and leave your response in the comments.
My wife and I are very different when it comes to our personalities. She is extremely patient, I am not. She will face confrontation if need be, I am passive aggressive. She is very systematic and organized, my methods can sometimes be inefficient and messy. What makes us different makes our marriage work, but what I see in my daughter Brooklyn is a mix of both our personalities. Brooklyn is very passive aggressive when she plays with other children, but she likes her toys and books organized and in a certain order. When she smiles I see her mom and her love for music evokes memories of my own childhood growing up and listening to music. Brooklyn has the very nature of her mom and dad. You can easily see it when you spend time with her. GOD’s desire for His children is to emulate His nature in every area of life. Sometimes that’s the hardest when we have been hurt. Jesus knew we would face many different hurts and pains, but through them all He taught that our nature should match that of the children of GOD. In Luke 6:27-35, Jesus is teaching what we now call “The Sermon on the Mount:”
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."
Did you see what Jesus said at the very end? He said your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. Check out how The Passion Translation puts it:
"You will receive a rich reward and you will be known as true children of the Most High God, having his same nature. For your Father is famous for his kindness to heal even the thankless and cruel. Show mercy and compassion for others, just as your heavenly Father overflows with mercy and compassion for all.”
The Greek word for reward is misthos and the literal definition is “pay for service or wages.” Jesus is saying if you take care of those who curse you, if you are generous without looking for anything in return, GOD will reward you. GOD will make sure that you are taken care of. I know it sounds counterintuitive to how we are feeling in the moment: In the moment we want to lash out, scream, punch, or tell someone how we really feel, but that is not what Jesus is calling us to do. When someone is mistreating us, or hurting us, our first thought is how can I get payback or justice, but Jesus blows those thoughts up. He says, “You go be generous to them. You find a way to bless them.” Maybe it’s a parent or a spouse who has caused deep pain and the thought of doing something nice can’t make it past the unforgiveness still locked in your heart. Maybe its a friend or sibling who left you when you needed them most and now they need a friend. Its your chance to reach out and be there for them when they weren’t there for you, but the memory and hurt is too fresh. We can either let that pain and hurt keep us locked in or we can step out and show others what true children of GOD look like. The characteristic of GOD is unconditional love and forgiveness and that same nature lives in each one of us. We have the ability to show others that even through our pain, disappointment, and grief we can still display the awesome love of GOD. The same hands that reached down to comfort us can now reach out to those who hurt us and comfort them. Our prayer is that GOD’s children will be so full of the goodness, love, and the favor of GOD that others around us will not be able to deny that we are the true children of GOD.
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If you were to ask my wife what is the one thing that I can not live without (Excluding Jesus and her of course), she would emphatically tell you “coffee!” I am a coffee junkie. To me coffee is my water. I believe that GOD made Adam and Eve and when they had children he introduced them to the coffee bean. Because of my infatuation or better yet, need for coffee, I find myself inside coffee shops many times throughout the week. My usual routine when ordering coffee is pulling up the app on my phone, ordering my coffee, and then sitting inside on a nice comfy couch waiting to hear my name called. In the moments between ordering and picking up my amazingness, I typically just scroll through the news feed on my phone or text my wife back and forth. A few weeks ago GOD called my attention to the other patrons enjoying their cup of joe. As I scanned the room, I observed about 75% of the room either looking at their phone, iPad, or some sort of tech device. The other 25% were either in line or sitting with another person. I couldn’t help but think how connected we are online, but how disconnected we are in the real world. Coffee shops were meant for communion with friends, family, or complete strangers. A place to go and enjoy conversation and purposeful interaction with other physical human beings. I felt very misplaced at that moment. How many times have I slipped onto my comfy couch, immediately pulled out my cell phone or computer, and focused my attention to the bright light radiating from my screen. Who have I missed? What lonely individual had come looking for coffee just like myself, but needed to hear a simple “hello” or “how are you?” How many times have I stood in line without even noticing the person behind me or the name on the tag of the barista taking my order. “This will stop today,” I emphatically declared. No more missing the world going on around me for the world that is in my pocket. From that moment on, my aim is to not just be in the moment, but to thrive in the moment. I want to see eye color and pay attention to name tags. I want to hear someone’s voice and recognize the emotion behind it. I want to get out of my little world and see the world that GOD has divinely ordained around me.
Jesus is the perfect example of someone who connected with the people around Him and through those connections He was able to offer hope, healing, and salvation. One of my favorite stories about Jesus is more of a transition than a story. It’s a transition in Jesus life, but He used it as a great opportunity for intimate connection. In the last few verses of John 8, Jesus is having a pretty heated discussion with the religious leaders of the day presenting Himself as The Christ. The leaders in turn became very angry and picked up stones to kill Jesus, but Jesus just concealed Himself and left the temple where He had been teaching. Chapter 9 starts with this verse:
“Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth.” John 9:1 TPT
Afterward. After the heated discussion where the religious leaders tried to kill Jesus. Afterward. Jesus had just exchanged one of the most prominent examples to the Jews that He was not only The Christ, but that He existed with GOD from the very beginning. I am sure that emotions were running high for Jesus, the religious leaders, and His disciples, but Jesus didn’t dwell on what just happened. As He walked down the street He noticed a man blind from birth. Jesus was always looking for connections. Always looking for someone He could encourage or speak life into. There was never a wasted moment in the life of Jesus. If Jesus ministry was happening today, He would ignore the constant vibrating of His cell phone to connect with that person who is sitting alone at dinner. The rest of chapter 9 is an incredible story of the healing of this man who was born blind and the glory of GOD that was shown that day in Jerusalem. The same day that Jesus was in an emotional heated conversation with the religious leaders. The same day those same religious leaders tried to kill Him. That same day He noticed a man born blind and stopped everything to show the everlasting love of GOD. My question to you and myself is how can we be more like Jesus in our transitions? When life is busy and we are running from one place to the next, how can we slow down enough to notice? Let us not be people who are defined by the cross around our necks or the place we go on Sunday, but let us be defined by the actions we take in the transitions and the love that we show in the busyness of our day. My declaration will be this:
I will be more purposeful and intentional with my daily interactions—wether that’s with my wife, kids, family, or a complete stranger. I will take Jesus into every interaction, every conversation, every insignificant moment and let His grace and mercy move through me.
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