Dear friends, It’s nice to have this online community, isn’t it? Lately we’ve been talking about the art of returning. Today we want to discuss returning to community in your city and your homes — returning to real flesh and blood community. Today I want you to hear from one of my own sisters. I give you my friend, Chrystan Ferrell. She is funny and outgoing, a feeler and deeply passionate (yay!). She is a mom, singer, fellow church-goer, but today I simply introduce you to her as one of my dearest friends. Listen as she talks about returning to community and why it is simply the best ever.
Today’s truth: “Not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
I am not a gardener. I do not grow things. I certainly do not have a green thumb; I have a regular thumb. I grow children, but I cannot seem to keep plants alive.
This year I decided, since we live out in the country now, that I should be a grower of all the things. So, I went out this spring and bought seeds and seed starter kits and I planted things. Farmer Adam tilled a lovely little garden for us to plant in, with a little fence to keep it safe from critters. We planted our little seedling sprouts out in the garden in their own little spaces and gave them water. I waited expectantly for this great bounty of vegetation to raise up.
Gardening–not for the weak and weary, I tell ya!
I’ve had to water that thing out in the heat, pull weeds (which is like the worst task EVER), and combat some serious bugs to try to keep that silly garden growing. Much to my dismay, many of the plants have not fared well. The tomato plant that stood alone in the middle fell victim to something called a stink bug??? Guys, I don’t know what these things are, but they killed my plants. What in the world!!!??
However, there is one area that has held on and grown amazingly well. It is producing mass amounts of vegetation and looks incredible. It is flourishing! Guess where it is? Smack dab in front of my house! You see, after we planted our garden, we had a few seedlings left over. Somehow they were left in this dirt area right in front of my house. I’d say there were two squash plants and two or three zucchini plants all piled together. And together, apparently, they have rallied and have grown to be the largest hybrid squash/zucchini colony maybe ever grown in Missouri (should I call the record books?)
This week as I navigated through this monster to pick yet another crop of lovely veggies, God gave me a thought. “Together we are better.” The plants that I planted in their separate areas, all carefully mapped out in the garden, floundered. They fell victim to weeds and bugs. They were not shielded from the sun and they were sometimes forgotten. The “hybrid garden” is strong because there are many plants growing together. Its color is bold, and it’s producing quite a bounty.
Learning from Hebrews
The book of Hebrews is written for a community of believers that had lost their zeal. They were fearful; they were floundering alone hiding in their homes. Hebrews 10 has a reminder for them: together they are better.
Paul (the likely author of Hebrews) is calling them to return to their faith and return to each other. Sometimes we go off course by thinking we have to do this faith walk alone. Though our walks are very personal, together we can love each other and support each other. Together we can serve more and do more than we could ever do alone. Across the pew, across denominations, we can rally for the cross.
As we gather together to serve and pray, to love and learn, we glorify Him when we set aside our selfish and guarded hearts for the advancement of the kingdom. Not only will we grow in our faith through this return to community, but we will also help to raise up a generation who will be unstoppable for the Kingdom of God.
Let us be returners to community. We can find growth and goodness in growing together as we draw near to Jesus and encourage each other in authenticity and love. Together we can create safe places for others to return to community, and embrace those who have been away. Together we are better.