Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time around my parents home due to my dad’s surgery. That put me near a whole group of people that Sara and I used to fellowship with when we first got out of college and in the years that followed. And even though a lot of that fellowship was around institutional machinery that I wouldn’t put the same time and effort in today, we all marveled at the relationships we had found with each other during those years.
Thirty years later we can pick up with those people exactly where we left off. The connection in Christ, compassion for each other and desire to share God’s life has survived the distance and miles that grew between us. What a joy it was to connect with these relationships again and share where the journey has taken us.
One of the things that many of them shared is that they no longer had relationships like these. Even though many of them are still a part of that same institution, and helping with leading in it, it has grown and changed over time. Many of them no longer connect with each other because they are too worn out with the program. When I asked if new people coming found their way into the kind of relationships we had back then, I was told it was just too big for that. One of the couples even reminded me how we’d been discouraged from the fellowship times we spent together because they weren’t part of the sanctioned program.
We certainly miss something when helping people build authentic relationships is lost to preserving an institution. People always hope one will spawn the other, but it never does. The priorities of an institution will eventually run counter to the priorities of family. Sara and I have been grateful that wherever we have been God has helped us build enduring friendships with brothers and sisters. We look back over our lives and celebrate the heritage of deep friendships that we have enjoyed at every stage of our journey. Some span 30 years, others ten; still others have only begun in the last couple of years.
But these kind of relationships offer the truest joy of sharing life in Father’s family. The time you invest today in building relationships with others on this journey will be fruit you can feast on over a lifetime. If our life together doesn’t build those kinds of friendships, what good is it? We have to remember not to get so caught up in the affairs of this world that we don’t take time to intentionally build friendships with people God puts in our paths.