Shaped by Community

Living in a community of faith provides so many blessings to my life and such encouragement to my faith. Let me share with you two recent conversations I have had with people in my church family.

Not too long ago a Skyline member who is in her “mid-seventies” came into my office to talk. She had a serious look on her face and I initially was concerned that she might be about to share some deep problem with me. In a way, I guess she was, for what she shared was deeply troubling her.

“I think you are holding back in worship,” she said.

My wise response was to just say something like, “Huh?”

“I think you are holding back in worship,” she repeated.

“What on earth are you talking about?” I asked.

“Well, I just think that sometimes you are really into the worship and really want to clap or raise up your hands and I am afraid you are holding back, ” she offered.

I followed up with another awkward question, “Well, why did you feel you needed to tell me this?”

And then she gave this sincere, heartfelt response: “I think you may be holding back your worship to God because you think me or somebody else might be watching and might criticize you. That’s not good. I don’t want you to hold back. I want you to worship God freely.”

Now I have to tell you this sister is probably never going to clap or raise her hands in worship. But I believe her to be faithful, true, sincere and passionate in her worship — and she was affirming that if I did raise or clap my hands, she thought I was, too. She went on to tell me experiences of old, when people bowed or kneeled in prayer in worship services.

This conversation was very encouraging to me, but let me move on to the second, very different, conversation I want to share.

On a recent Sunday another sister in Christ, quite a bit younger than the one previously mentioned, shared a prayer request with me. She asked me to intercede for her in a very specific way.

“Would you please pray for me? Specifically, would you pray for God to change the way I am thinking?”

I tried to clarify, “What is it specifically that you want to change about your thinking?”

Her response demonstrated a deep desire to be a godly woman, “Please pray that I will think in kingdom terms rather than selfish terms.” And as if that were not enough to keep me busy praying and taking a really good look at my heart and motives, she added, “I want to be motivated to do things for God’s sake, not my own.”

Let me conclude by saying God has used these two conversations to shape me. That’s what happens when we live in community. We share our faith. We share words of encouragement. We share our fears. We share our needs. We join our hearts together in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and intercession for one another. And as we relate to one another God is at work.

I am so thankful for the blessing of my church family!

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