The Blessing of Another Lens to Look Through
When we moved overseas to join a church planting team, there was a cost. Life changed. Relationships changed. The treasured faces of our friends and family - regular voices in our life - now distant, taking the shape of words in a message or email. Three years later our first furlough arrived and we were finally surrounded by those same faces once again, whose hands drew us right back into community. The time lapse caused a shift within our bible study group as the once newly married couples became young parents. We were welcomed back with love and care, as though nothing had changed. God had been growing and shaping each of us over the years. We would come and go a few more times until a new season arrived keeping us home. As we continue to meet together, forging friendship and fellowship in the Word and prayer, I've recently been reminded of how valuable community is for my spiritual health as those around me help me to see things from another perspective. See, I tend to view the worst case scenarios. My work as an ER nurse leads me to prepare for the worst, so I can intervene as best I can if it happens. When I'm doing mental health consults I hold the stories of those who've experienced vividly that the world is not as it ought to be. Community gives me a fresh lens to view circumstances, a hopeful, positive outlook, as others see people and situations differently than I do. This is needed and it's a blessing. There's times in our ministry, our parenting, or our work when we've been in it for so long what we face becomes routine, until we bounce it off our community. Here's two ways their perspective can help. To Resist Fear In the circumstances we face alone, it's easy to succumb to fear. When our daughter was in hospital we could've drowned in fear if left on our own, but the love and support we received helped to carry us through and keep our feet firmly planted in faith. Like the prophets who spoke words of assurance to Israel as they were dragged away from their home toward exile in Babylon, they were reminded this would not be their end. God continued to speak to them of His covenant faithfulness through the prophets, to stir their hope and confidence that all would be made right again. As the family of God, we get to be that voice for each other too. But remember it can work the other way too. When the spies were sent into Canaan, only 2 testified to the power of God to accomplish His purposes, the rest infected the community with words of fear. Let's be like the 2. To See Needs Community means we have multiplied eyes to see the needs of the world around us. Each of us have a heart and passion for something. There was a season our church had numerous families billeting hockey players and a member also served as the chaplain for the team. There are members who have their ear to the ground for those in financial need and others who bless new moms; opportunities to be a witness are vast and as we get to know each other, we learn their heartbeat and discover points of need otherwise invisible to our eye. We need each other's help to do that. Not only do others broaden our perspective outward, they also help narrow it inward. Moses was exhausted in his leadership. Jethro, his father-in-law, came for a visit and quickly noticed how unsustainable his efforts were, suggesting he delegate the work rather than do everything himself. And he did it. Another perspective can shift things when done in love and care, and received with humility. Living in community is far from simple. Perspective changes can be a blessing and can also cause tension. But walking side by side, honouring others above ourselves, is a practice of selflessness that Jesus modelled for us. Many of our missionary friends didn't have the blessing of a circle to be welcomed back into. While no return from the field is a simple transition, we knew our situation was a unique blessing, which we treasure. How have you been blessed with a new perspective by your family in Christ?