Friday, October 11, 2013

Not alone in this

When I was in junior high school, my father's employment suddenly changed, and he took a job half the continent away.  My dad went on ahead of us to start his work, and my brother went with him as to start in that new high school as a freshman.  The rest of us remained behind for six months, waiting for our house to sell.  By winter, the house was still on the market, but the rest of us moved on to our new location.  Still, the house did not sell.  My parents were discouraged, and money was very tight.

Six months later, Miss Edith,an ancient woman in our church, approached my dad after a Sunday evening church service.  "Bob, what can I be praying for you this week?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing," he replied, starting to walk away.

"I know there is something you need prayer about," she insisted.  "What are you struggling with?"

"Well," he replied.  "Our house has been on the market for a year, and it hasn't sold.  But you don't want to bother God with something like that."

I don't remember her response, but I never forgot that knowing smile she gave him.

By the next Sunday, the house was sold.

I don't think the answer to that prayer had anything to do with the house, but everything to do with my father's relationship with God, the power of prayer, and the meaning of uncommon church community.

I once heard that the meaning of fellowship is "all the fellows on one ship."  We were not meant to do life on our own. God is with us, but He has also placed others in our lives to come alongside.

I have been through too much of life to know "Do not do this alone."  God does not intend for us to run in isolation -- no matter the course we "run" -- or to keep one's burden to oneself, but to abide in Him and bear one another's burdens.  Unbolt the door, and let them in.

Part of me mocks, "how can you ask for others to pray for you when they may bear a far deeper pain?"  All that deceit does is build up walls of resistance to God and isolation from others.

Two days from now, I will stand at the starting line of a marathon with 45,000 other runners.  There will be a lot of runners around me, but there will be many non-runners with me.  There are those who will be there -- in their beds, in church pews, going about their Sundays -- praying me through.  I have let these family and friends into my life, even in this, sharing what is ahead of me, what I am going through, even that which stands so puny compared to what some of them are going through.  I realize that many of them have weary legs and aching hearts and rocky roads that extend a long, long way.

We all have pain that is not relieved as easily as crossing a finish line on a sunny afternoon.  And we endure through a strength that its not our own, relying on God's power and the energy of fellowship.  God never intended for us to go it alone.  That is why he speaks in His Word about the "one anothers."  Love one another.  Bear one another's burdens.  Pray for one another.

And so, marathon day, I will be running with my entire family, friends all around the country, my small group, and all the others who say "I could never run that,"  but they do.

I couldn't run it either           
           without Him,
        nor without them.

Therefore. since we are surrounded
       by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight and sin
which clings so closely
and let us run
            with endurance
the race that is set before us...

                      Hebrews 12.1

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