This may surprise many of you who know me, but big crowds terrify me. Even a group of friends, larger than like 3, overwhelms me. I guess one on one conversations and small gatherings are the easiest ways for me to show and receive love.
J, on the other hand, thrives in groups. More people in his mind means more love, more fun, and more opportunity. (If I say he’s wrong does that mean I’ve figured out the whole marriage thing? Just kidding!)
But really I believe Jesus can be seen in both perspectives. I think Jesus appreciated gatherings big and small. I mean the man who once fed 5,000 people also chose to take just three of his disciples up to a mountain to show Himself in radiant glory. Maybe this means vulnerability happens in small numbers. Maybe it means joy overflows when it’s shared with more people. Or maybe there is healing and abundant love to be found in both.
Last Friday night we had 8 friends (and two little ones) helping us pack up and move into our new home. And Saturday morning I was overwhelmed, not by the chaos of a house filled with boxes and half-painted walls, but by the overflow of love and community in these friends. They are the same friends who gather for hurricanes, birthdays, funerals, mountain weekends, Sunday night movies, Tuesday morning Bible studies, living room church, weddings, and new babies. So on moving days, they show up. By the way, this is the fourth time they’ve helped me move in less than three years. And one of those times, I was in a car accident an hour before and literally couldn’t be there to finish packing up or move anything at all. This didn’t matter to them. Like I said- they show up.
Community is such a gift.
But in a time when the world has spent months distancing themselves, I will be the first to admit I have not been the friend Jesus desires me to be. I have found more comfort within the walls of my own home with Tucker cuddled up to me than I have in the presence of those who literally embody the love, comfort, kindness, and joy of Jesus. And my sweet husband has been so patient with my anxious heart through it all.
I’m thankful for him and his boisterous self. And I’m thankful God is writing a story of redemption. And He isn’t keeping me how He found me. He’s wants to teach and transform those who trust Him. And He does this so often through community.
After spending Memorial Day with everyone, I remembered something I wrote about them back in 2017- after the first Saturday they welcomed me into their community. It was my first year of teaching, and I had started a blog to help me understand the overwhelming emotions that were consuming me. Words helped. Apparently so did people. Here’s a quick blurb from a post I wrote about that day.
“This weekend, I experienced a simple, yet incredible example of (God’s love). Love is spending a Saturday afternoon learning to throw a frisbee and playing intense games of ping pong in a garage with encouraging, new friends. It is having to wear a board game box under your shirt for two hours during a friendly game of Quelf. It is eating dressing-less salad out of bowl with your fingers, talking about a love for Jesus and coffee. It is laughing about uncomfortable first dates, eating frozen Oreos around a fire, until almost 1 o’clock in the morning. As Maria Goff described it, love is people seeking out people ‘who shape the way we see ourselves, the way we see each other, and the way we see Jesus.’”
I’m thankful for the power in community. I’m thankful God shows us His love through people. And I’m thankful for people who keep showing up.
1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
So this season I’m asking God to transform my heart to look more like His and more like the people who move boxes in the pouring rain, wake up before work to have zoom Bible study calls, and take their sad friends to the mountains or TJ Maxx. Im asking Him to teach and transform me – to show me the abundance that’s hiding in community.
How do you see God at work in your community?? Comment below!