I love the way God connects people and that is not nearly so difficult as we all imagine. Over the last two days I’ve received two emails that illustrate that better than I can say it. The first is in response to a recent blog on When the Falseness of Religion Succumbs to the Reality of Relationship. Jason from Iowa wrote me to describe how he is moving from the falseness of religion to the reality of relationship in finding fellowship where he lives:
This reminds me of myself and how I approached God, but it also reminds me of how I used to approach relationships in general. I went out of my way to try and have relationship with other believers. I felt that if I used the right ingredients, then a great Christian relationship would be the result. However, that was just not the case. No matter what I did to try and orchestrate a great relationship for my wife and I with other believers, it simply did not turn out how I envisioned.
I remember writing you to complain about Christians that would rather read about relationship in the Bible than actually live it out. You gave me some advice that I was not ready to accept at that time. You told me something really crazy. You stated to simply trust Father and accept what He puts in front of you. That was the last thing I wanted to hear and so I did what any hardheaded knucklehead would do—I continued to try and orchestrate relationships with other couples. After a while, we finally had enough and burned out trying. We completely shut down over the summer as far as trying. We had had enough of trying to manufacture relationship.
I am so glad we burned out. It was the best thing that could have happened. It would have been better if we accepted your advice from the beginning, but at least we finally stopped trusting ourselves to create what we were longing for.
Once we stopped, God seemed to start. We are currently meeting every few weeks just to hang out at another couple’s home on Sunday afternoons into the evening. No agenda, and no pressure. If we want to go, we go. If not, then we simply won’t. They and another couple are the same way. It is not some fancy event. We are all trying to keep it as simple as possible. We are just enjoying each other’s company, including the kids. The chats are wonderful. We do not have to, but we find ourselves talking about God in so many different ways. It is truly refreshing. I do not know how long Father will keep us together, especially since they may be moving back to Michigan next summer, but it does not matter. Father knows what we need and He is able to provide it no matter what, even if it does not involve other Christian couples.
On a side note, I stand in awe how God works. I remember two summers ago reading an article you wrote on why house church isn’t the answer. It really opened my eyes. Then I started to correspond with you while you were in New Zealand. After several emails back and forth with you, I talked to my home fellowship about reading your articles and the email exchanges between us. Many of them have read some of your writings.
After a few weeks, we decided to see if you would come and visit with us in Iowa. You did and our fellowship has not been the same since, and that is a good thing. We got out of the let’s make more house churches mentality. We really saw how we were limiting what God wanted to do. I know you know all this but I am building up to what God is doing now.
This past summer, I received an email from someone that saw my email on your site. They had recently moved into the area where I live and wanted to get together. I met a couple of brothers and we hit it off. Then we met a few times over the summer, but nothing big. We were all so busy. Then this fall, one of the brothers and his family invited my family over for simple fellowship at his house. The other brother and his wife were there too. It was a blast. They stated a desire to get together every few weeks or so. However, they did not want it to be something that has to take place. If we needed to not be there for whatever reason, then that was perfectly OK. The opposite is true too. Our families have so much in common. We all love the Lord!
I still have my other friends too, Wayne, but for some reason God must have opened up this time for some whole family fellowship. Regardless of how long this will take place, I have truly seen that God does know what he is doing and that he knows best. The friendships that He has provided are better than any we could have manufactured. I also want to thank you because He definitely used you throughout this whole process—not only with advice, and friendship, but literally your website. It is awesome to see how he allowed you to touch all of our lives back here in Iowa. You were simply obedient to Father and the result is much fruit.
Then, today I got this:
I hope that encourages you who think you have to DO something to make fellowship happen. You only need to be responsive to him. He has more stuff going on than we can conceive, and he is really good at what he does. So, relax! Listen to him and follow him and in his time he will set you in his family just as he desires…
Well I’m off to Canada tomorrow and 5 days hanging out with some believers on Vancouver Island…