The Quest for Like-Minded People

There’s a wonderful discussion going on the Lifestream Journeys list about finding fellowship with others. I thought others of you might enjoy it as well. The question was first asked by Nancy:

I’m wondering what any of you might say about the concept of “fellowship”. People in (my old fellowship) ask me about that often, as in “are you getting any?” Obviously the wording makes me smile. But what I’m wondering is this: I’ve asked Father about it numerous times, asked him to please put people in my life for connection/fellowship etc.

So far in the past couple years I haven’t noticed any big change. ??There are lots of people in my life. I do not live in a cave—my family near and extended, my work colleagues, my various friends—but I would not say that any of these is truly “like-minded”. Of course what I’d like is a group with whom I can identify and agree together and pat each other on the back. Like (my old fellowship had). That is pretty comfortable. ??
But where Father has me at this point is precisely not there. I am depending on him for most of my warm fuzzies. I keep telling Him I really want somebody/ies with skin on, and it just ain’t happenin’. Which must be ok. I am wanting to be content with whatever he gives, yet often feel guilty because I am not content. ?

Sophie from Indiana, another lady on the list responded with a wonderful story of what God is doing in her and her family:

I have walked through the valley you’re in, and can understand where you’re coming from. I waited and waited for “like-minded” people too. And I can’t say exactly how long it took, but through that time of “just Jesus and me” I began to see God (or the image of God) in everyone, including those who’re not “like minded,” or even knew Him at all.

I began by accepting the people in my life as “the fellowship” that God has provided for me. It’s funny how Jesus has answered my heart’s desire to be more like Him. I thought in order to achieve this goal, I needed to be around people who are more like Him (in my own judgment, of course), but instead He brought me to be with people who weren’t at all what I had in mind and taught me to see them as He does. Obviously, I’m not all the way like Jesus, but certainly I now can relate to other people more like Jesus does. I’d always wondered how He is “a friend of all,” and now I know, or have a better idea than I did before. I now can be comfortable and “fellowship” with anyone.

And just when I finally got to the point where I could say, “OK, I don’t need to be with people who see spiritual things like I do” God started bringing “like-minded” people into my life. I enjoy time with “like-minded” people, but I no longer have a dependency on them like I used to when I was in the IC. I now see this whole concept of needing to be with people of like mind as another one of those IC concepts I needed to be freed from. And I think this freedom was what God had in mind for me when He took me into that lonely valley.

The great fear people have in religious settings is that people will prefer isolation to fellowship. They think people have to be obligated to their responsibility to be part of the community of believers, otherwise it is so boring that folks won’t participate. But I find everyone who knows God as Father has a deep desire to connect with other brothers and sisters. Real community is not an obligation it is irresistible. The key is letting God bring that about in his time, and not just looking for “like-minded” people.

Yes, he knows how important it is for us to have others with whom we can share our journeys, and there are many ways to do that. An important thread in some of this discussion is to let God control that as we just remain open and responsive to him. Guilt about not finding it yet, doesn’t help. Keep your hunger before God, love those he has put around you and see how he will bring people into your life. Yes, there are things we can do to connect on-line, and with others locally that might share our passion for a relationally journey. But if that isn’t happening at the moment, enjoy the people he has placed in your life. You never know what might come from it.

And as if to illustrate the point further, I got this email this morning from Karen in Minnesota about some recent goings on in this arena for her and her husband:

We celebrated or 25th anniversary on a cruise to Alaska last week! Not bad for having been unemployed for almost a year, huh!? We heard of a last minute deal on Wednesday and drove the next morning to Seattle to catch the ship! On the cruise we made two life-long couple friends. One is a couple who love the Lord and we shared amazing free fellowship. They are Catholic. Again, years ago that would have been a deal breaker. We connected so much with them they invited us to share their motel room when we got back to Seattle and we did! We all went to Mt Rainer together and to the Seattle market. None of us wanted to say goodbye. The other couple has a passion for life and photography and each other. We love them for who they are and have no agenda for them. How liberating! They are Jewish.

We have become great friends with our tattooed, pierced, living-together neighbors (at home, too). Not too many years ago we would have been too judgmental for that to ever happen. We have found such joy and freedom in recognizing how loved we are and allowing that same freedom to others. As an aside, this couple has recently come to love Jesus with a refreshing passion so now we share Him too.

When God gets to be in control of our relationships, and we grow increasingly secure in his love for us, some amazing things can happen way beyond our expectations.

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20 Comments
  1. kent May 29, 2010 at 10:38 am

    love the stories

  2. kent May 29, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    love the stories

  3. Kimberly Simpkins May 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    This is neat! I have recently stopped praying for the Lord to lead me to “the right church”, but instead have asked Him to bring the “right people” into my life. So far, He has been answering in very interesting ways! We’re heading as a family back to the mission field for a 3 week outreach with the Central CA-based ministry I met you at, Wayne. 😉 Can’t wait to see how the Lord will use us in our new maturity and growth in this work. What is even more interesting is that I learned more about living relationally through that group than I ever have in any Institutional Church. Blessings to you!

  4. Kimberly Simpkins May 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    This is neat! I have recently stopped praying for the Lord to lead me to “the right church”, but instead have asked Him to bring the “right people” into my life. So far, He has been answering in very interesting ways! We’re heading as a family back to the mission field for a 3 week outreach with the Central CA-based ministry I met you at, Wayne. 😉 Can’t wait to see how the Lord will use us in our new maturity and growth in this work. What is even more interesting is that I learned more about living relationally through that group than I ever have in any Institutional Church. Blessings to you!

  5. Jan May 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    The place that Nancy describes is where I seem to be. I was just having a talk with Father about that as we were traveling today. I was wondering when it would happen or if it will. I’m learning to live in that place of letting him bring people however and whenever but I still get impatient wanting something to happen now. Thank you for this post.

  6. Jan May 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    The place that Nancy describes is where I seem to be. I was just having a talk with Father about that as we were traveling today. I was wondering when it would happen or if it will. I’m learning to live in that place of letting him bring people however and whenever but I still get impatient wanting something to happen now. Thank you for this post.

  7. Joyce May 31, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Thank you so much for this post. It is a great validation to what so many of us experience as we become travelers on this journey. I think that as we live in the freedom of Father’s love for us, a process of transformation occurs, and we become “a lover of people”. This has paved the way and opend opportunites for some amazing relationships.

    What I am finding to be true in my own life at the present time, is that being a “lover of people” must start with my husband. Contrary to what most may think, this has been more difficult for me than the other relationships in my life. It has been a painful and difficult process. As much as I have asked Father to bring more poeple into my life that I can love, I realize that I have a husband who still suffers and struggles with shame and guilt and anger. On an intellectual level, he knows in his head that he is loved by our Father, but it has not yet permeated his heart and become a reality in his life. I know that only Father can open his heart to the joy and freedom of His love for us. In the meantime, I think Father is working out the transformation in me that will help me “love” my husband in all the ways that he needs to be loved.

    We don’t always realize that we can live in His kingdom just by loving those He puts right in front of us…..Thanks for listening….

  8. Phil Hawkins May 31, 2010 at 9:01 am

    This is part of what my wife and I have walked through in the past few years. But Wayne, I am still thankful that your travel schedule brought you to Indianapolis last year. We still get together regularly with some of the folks we met that weekend, including Sophie. But the circle can still expand: while camping over this holiday weekend, we met a couple of new friends who have by other roads come to a place similar to our own. We enjoyed our time together, and sent a copy of “The Shack” home with them, since they seemed ready for it.

  9. Joyce May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Thank you so much for this post. It is a great validation to what so many of us experience as we become travelers on this journey. I think that as we live in the freedom of Father’s love for us, a process of transformation occurs, and we become “a lover of people”. This has paved the way and opend opportunites for some amazing relationships.

    What I am finding to be true in my own life at the present time, is that being a “lover of people” must start with my husband. Contrary to what most may think, this has been more difficult for me than the other relationships in my life. It has been a painful and difficult process. As much as I have asked Father to bring more poeple into my life that I can love, I realize that I have a husband who still suffers and struggles with shame and guilt and anger. On an intellectual level, he knows in his head that he is loved by our Father, but it has not yet permeated his heart and become a reality in his life. I know that only Father can open his heart to the joy and freedom of His love for us. In the meantime, I think Father is working out the transformation in me that will help me “love” my husband in all the ways that he needs to be loved.

    We don’t always realize that we can live in His kingdom just by loving those He puts right in front of us…..Thanks for listening….

  10. Phil Hawkins May 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    This is part of what my wife and I have walked through in the past few years. But Wayne, I am still thankful that your travel schedule brought you to Indianapolis last year. We still get together regularly with some of the folks we met that weekend, including Sophie. But the circle can still expand: while camping over this holiday weekend, we met a couple of new friends who have by other roads come to a place similar to our own. We enjoyed our time together, and sent a copy of “The Shack” home with them, since they seemed ready for it.

  11. Charles Graham June 1, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Wow! This past weekend my wife & I celebrated 22 years of marriage. We spent the weekend at a B&B in N GA. We love to stay at a B&B because we have met some really great people over the years. This time wasn’t any different and we had a wonderful weekend sharing with a couple from FL.

    Like so many of you, I have asked Papa to bring friends into my life and so far it hasn’t happened like “I” thought it should. But Papa has brought people into our lives in so many ways. Most of them are passing encounters, but they are opportunities to share Papa’s love & grace.

    Joyce, if you read this post, just continue to love your husband. I, too, was a very angry man. Two & half years ago Papa revealed His love for me. He dealt with the anger and the shame and now I live in his love everyday. Sometimes I ask Him if this is real and He says, “Yes!”. It took 51 years to come into that revelation. And now I’m loving life.

  12. Joyce June 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Charles, thank you so much for responding to my comment, and, for sharing your experience. It gives me great encouragement. I know and trust that Papa will open my husbands heart to the revelation of His love, and the guilt, shame, and anger will melt away. I so look forward to the day when he will also say, “I’m loving life”. Thanks again…..

  13. Charles Graham June 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Wow! This past weekend my wife & I celebrated 22 years of marriage. We spent the weekend at a B&B in N GA. We love to stay at a B&B because we have met some really great people over the years. This time wasn’t any different and we had a wonderful weekend sharing with a couple from FL.

    Like so many of you, I have asked Papa to bring friends into my life and so far it hasn’t happened like “I” thought it should. But Papa has brought people into our lives in so many ways. Most of them are passing encounters, but they are opportunities to share Papa’s love & grace.

    Joyce, if you read this post, just continue to love your husband. I, too, was a very angry man. Two & half years ago Papa revealed His love for me. He dealt with the anger and the shame and now I live in his love everyday. Sometimes I ask Him if this is real and He says, “Yes!”. It took 51 years to come into that revelation. And now I’m loving life.

  14. Joyce June 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Charles, thank you so much for responding to my comment, and, for sharing your experience. It gives me great encouragement. I know and trust that Papa will open my husbands heart to the revelation of His love, and the guilt, shame, and anger will melt away. I so look forward to the day when he will also say, “I’m loving life”. Thanks again…..

  15. Jena June 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Joyce and Charles,
    I’m so thankful for your comments. I began around 7 or 8 yrs ago to hear the Holy Spirit urge me to trust God’s love for me–it was always a mental image of just jumping out into the unknown. The Lord would say “You won’t fall; you will fly!!” When I found Lifestream.org thru reading “The Shack”, and read Wayne’s stuff, I finally understood what God had been trying to get me to see. Now that I see it, I want so much for my husband to see it too, but he is so angry at God because our life seems to be falling apart financially and his long sought-after dream is slipping away unless God intervenes. It is encouraging to hear your story, Charles. And it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, Joyce. thanks again,
    Jena

  16. Jena June 3, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Joyce and Charles,
    I’m so thankful for your comments. I began around 7 or 8 yrs ago to hear the Holy Spirit urge me to trust God’s love for me–it was always a mental image of just jumping out into the unknown. The Lord would say “You won’t fall; you will fly!!” When I found Lifestream.org thru reading “The Shack”, and read Wayne’s stuff, I finally understood what God had been trying to get me to see. Now that I see it, I want so much for my husband to see it too, but he is so angry at God because our life seems to be falling apart financially and his long sought-after dream is slipping away unless God intervenes. It is encouraging to hear your story, Charles. And it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, Joyce. thanks again,
    Jena

  17. Sue June 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Joyce, I totally agree with Charles, my husband didn’t want anything to do with my faith, partly my fault for preaching at him all the time. In the past couple of years I’ve seen a turn around in him, since I quit preaching and started asking Father to help me show my husband love and patience. My husband now talks to me about different conversations he’s had with people he works with about faith, he teases me about praying for him, and there’s a peace in him I haven’t seen before. In a way I think it’s because Father has changed me and how I look at my husband. I’m learning to live loved and I think my husband is seening that and that makes him want what I have.

  18. Sue June 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Joyce, I totally agree with Charles, my husband didn’t want anything to do with my faith, partly my fault for preaching at him all the time. In the past couple of years I’ve seen a turn around in him, since I quit preaching and started asking Father to help me show my husband love and patience. My husband now talks to me about different conversations he’s had with people he works with about faith, he teases me about praying for him, and there’s a peace in him I haven’t seen before. In a way I think it’s because Father has changed me and how I look at my husband. I’m learning to live loved and I think my husband is seening that and that makes him want what I have.

  19. valeri miller June 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Hi everyone. It’s comforting to know so many others are in this place where i thought i must be all alone. We left the IC few years back after decades of struggle. Most of our friends there have shunned us for “forsaking the fellowship.” I have been asking Abba Often for others who feel as we do, and feeling frustrated too. After lecturing myself sternly for fretting about it, I made the decision to trust Him with it. Not easy, but I keep bringing myself back to it. Recently, He has answered my prayers in a wonderful and totally unexpected way by bringing an old, abandoned dream of mine to own my own horse into my husband’s heart. I have met a beautiful Welch/Halflinger pony and 2 new believing friends! With no effort of my own aside from answering an ad.

  20. valeri miller June 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Hi everyone. It’s comforting to know so many others are in this place where i thought i must be all alone. We left the IC few years back after decades of struggle. Most of our friends there have shunned us for “forsaking the fellowship.” I have been asking Abba Often for others who feel as we do, and feeling frustrated too. After lecturing myself sternly for fretting about it, I made the decision to trust Him with it. Not easy, but I keep bringing myself back to it. Recently, He has answered my prayers in a wonderful and totally unexpected way by bringing an old, abandoned dream of mine to own my own horse into my husband’s heart. I have met a beautiful Welch/Halflinger pony and 2 new believing friends! With no effort of my own aside from answering an ad.

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