We Were Created to be in Relationships

intimacywithGodAs much as I enjoy being alone, forced isolation isn’t something I am very fond of. On Sunday, I went into the office to do a little work and check-in with some consultants. I thought I would get an update and quietly work in my office while they did their thing. I had met one of the consultants but not the other. Once there, another person popped into the office, and before I knew it, 5 of us were in my office chatting away. At first, both consultants were somewhat timid in speaking, but once we got going, so did they. Once we finished with the update, I asked if I could get them lunch. They were about to leave the building when someone said, “How about we walk up the street and eat together?” That’s what we did.


We walked and talked and talked some more, occasionally switching off the person we were walking with ease. As we walked, all of a sudden, we heard Praise and Worship music coming from somewhere close. I recognized the song immediately but did not think the others would. The song kept drawing my attention, and someone said, “Wow, listen to that Praise and Worship music.” Right then, I knew that at least one person in that group shared a similar background to mine. I asked him if he knew that song, and boy did he know it and a host of others. He was a Praise and Worship team member. When I asked at what church? He replied, and it was the same church I attended before the pandemic outbreak and before I moved to another area. It was nice to hear his comments. Later at lunch, he began asking who was my favorite Old School Christian singer. I thought I would stomp him when I recalled The Hawkin singers, and he named Tramaine, Walter, and Edwin. But then he said, “Andre Crouch!” I was thrilled. While we ate, the other consultant began talking about some of the same people, yet she had to be 30 years my junior. I asked her where did she attend church, and her answer thrilled me too. Lunch with this group turned into a more Christian-fest than a business lunch.


christianview of relationshipwithGodAs I drove home, I felt the day was productive. More than productivity, however, I believe that day was ordained. As I thought about a “TFT” (Thought For Today) I post to social media every day, I recalled the one I had posted for Sunday—it was that God created us for relationship. First, relationship with Him and then relationship with each other. The Bible tells us the first command is, Love the Lord, and the second is like it, and that is to Love your neighbor. Loving others is hard, especially when we do not see eye-to-eye. People who don’t think like us can frustrate us, and when we begin focusing on what is so different about them, we lose the opportunity to see what is lovely, even fascinating about them.


Many have complained about being forced to isolate ourselves from others as we faced something many of us would have never imagined facing, COVID. However, I think the forced shutdown caused us to rethink our desire to be alone. As a person who enjoys being alone, I realize that I also enjoy challenging conversations, debates, and laughter. I enjoy learning about people, and I enjoy sharing what God has given me to share. Had I rejected going to lunch with the group that Sunday, I think I would have missed what I believe was a God-ordained moment, learning and laughing with two new people who loved God and shared a love for Praise and Worship music like me.
Maybe now that we are coming out of the pandemic, we might stop and genuinely take time to enjoy each other’s company? Maybe? I think I will.

Just remember this: At the beginning of time, God said it was not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So He gave us relationship.

Reflect Christ & Love Wins…

reflectChrist
Can you believe that the year is almost over? I don’t know if the year has flown by for you or slowed down. It seems like it was just a month ago when we were told we would have to take precautions because of some virus that may soon impact our organization. At first, I remember thinking it was blown out of proportion due to other things going on in the organization. I think that may have been the end of February. Besides, I had plans. My wedding anniversary was coming up in March. I had decided to leave a job I loved in anticipation of what God had in store for me next. I had plans!


If only I had known that the world was about to change and there would be nothing I could do about it. Well, the world did change. A shift occurred almost a week after leaving my old organization to sit it out for a while. Not only did I go home, everybody ended up going home and staying there for months. During that time, people experienced trauma also. Companies had to shut down businesses, learn how to teach their kids at home, spend money to work from home, some lost jobs because of shutdowns, and the ultimate trauma happened when we found out that this virus was deadly.
If there was ever a time that we could complain, it was undoubtedly during this season. I don’t have to remind anyone of all the craziness of 2020. The virus, killing people of color, and the racial protests all happened this year. When I watched the news, I feared we were about to experience some of the same demonstrations and riots I saw on television from the 1960s. I don’t know about you, but I could not help but think what had our world come to?

Many times throughout the last months, I have prayed regularly for the USA. In fact, I don’t think I have ever prayed for a country so much than this year. The world, I have thought repeatedly, has gone wild. Why? What triggered the hate and fighting? What caused the absolute worst to come out in us? Are we really that divided? What grew even scarier to me as I watched myself evaluating the attitudes and actions of people I have cared for many years. People who worked together, worshipped together, played together, and cared for each other seemed to turn on each other. To my surprise, none of us stopped and said, this is enough. God did not make us like this. Stop the madness. No, instead, lines were drawn, and it became us versus them.


What I have asked myself is this: Would God be pleased with what He sees in you? Would He recognize His Son in your actions? When I stopped and carefully evaluated my thinking and, ultimately, my efforts, I have repented and asked for forgiveness on several occasions. During September and October, I believe God gave me Galatians 5:22-23 to focus my attention. Each week, I began to read about and consider scriptures that tied directly to one of the Fruits of the Spirit and discuss it with my staff. Also, during October, a full week was dedicated to a conference that focused on Luke 10.

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, Galatians+5_22-23forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” I believe the reason this scripture has been one to stick to through dark days is so we remember God has called us out of that darkness and expects us to live as a shining example for others to see. We are supposed to live for Him. The Word of God tells us in Matthew 7:19-20, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, they will know us by our fruit.”


Amid the chaos, Christians, we are standard-bearers for Christ. Even when we want to scream and yell and insist on our way, we need to return to the scriptures and find the strength to do what Jesus would do and exercise self-control. In the end, I believe, Love wins. I think about Galatians and the very first fruit listed in Love. Why? I think it is because when we act in Love, God can transform hearts, including our own. Self-control is another fruit that can keep us out of many problems if we would quiet down, walk away, and simply pray.love-wins-cursive_u-l-f8ek710


There is too much I can write on this subject, but I will stop here and say, I believe, in the end, Love wins. I don’t have to fight with those I disagree with and don’t have to associate with them either. I have been charged to pray for them. That’s what I will do, and I hope they will pray for me