“In isolation we wilt. In community we grow.”
Does your life reflect the truth of this statement?
When Beckie (right) received my last “Live like it’s true!” email, she was convicted by my thought on “one-anothering”. She wrote me back, saying she planned to invest in her friendship with Pearl (left).
Now, as you can probably see, Beckie and Pearl are both delightful. They are online writing buddies (find Rebekah here and Pearl here) and have each have written me little notes of encouragement throughout the years about how God has used my writing in their lives. So when I thought of them connecting more intentionally, I smiled and wrote back with this prayer:
“Lord, help [Beckie] to make time for connecting with her dear friend Pearl. What a gift friendship is!”
Then, to my surprise, they both sent me messages this week adorned with lots of exclamation points, smiley emojis and photos! Here’s Beckie’s summary:
“Since Pearl and I live so far away, we had pretty much assumed we would get to actually meet in heaven. But we [were traveling] and Pearl came down to meet us! We were sitting in Cracker Barrel, in awe that we got to meet before heaven, when it hit me. ‘Shannon prayed for this!’”
God answered my prayer, and these two women of God got to let their faith roots become a little more intertwined. Plus, there was one other benefit (which is too funny not to share). Becky said:
“…And my husband was happy to finally make sure that my dear online friend Pearl wasn’t some middle aged guy in his mom’s basement. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣”
Have you ever noticed how it’s harder to pull one plant out of the soil if it’s planted next to others? That’s how our faith is. We can only become strongly rooted in groups. In isolation, we put ourselves at risk.
Do you doubt this? Many people do, especially in the digital age where we can attend church while we chop vegetables or soak in the hot tub. But here’s my question. If we’re fine in isolation, why would God fill his Bible with verses like these:
- Be devoted to one another. Rom. 12:10
- Live in harmony with one another. Rom. 12:16
- Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Eph. 5:19
- Look to the interests of one another. Phil. 2:4
- Build up one another. I Thes. 5:11
(For a list of my favorites, get my latest email here.)
There are one hundred “one another” verses in the Bible and each one is “inspired by God and useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16-17 NLT)
In other words, we have one hundred reminders to “one another”, which means we have one hundred reasons not to live spiritually as “one alone”. And if we try to, here’s what will happen.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I went to a greenhouse and filled the trunk of my car with flowers.
But then, as Michigan is prone to do in May, a frost advisory was issued so I decided to leave the flowers in my garage for another week. I put them on shelves near the interior wall, where they’d stay warm, and I watered them every couple of days. Plus I talked to them whenever I walked by, saying, “Pretty soon, guys… it won’t be long now…”
I went out of town the following week, so my poor plants had to endure the garage for almost two weeks. When I finally reunited them with sunshine and soil, I found a pretty little plant which had fallen back behind the shelf by the wall. There she had stayed in the dark with no water for and nobody looking out for her. She was in pretty rough shape, friends. Sadly, I had to let her go. But friend, I’m not letting you go!
This is Me, not Letting You Go
I wonder if there’s anybody who has felt like my little plant, during the long dark separation period of Covid? Anyone feeling like they’ve fallen into dark isolation—unwatered by Christian community and the gathering of God’s people in church?
If so, I can’t let this go on without saying something. You’re too important! We aren’t “us” without you. So because I care, I’m sending you a warning and some inspiration. First the warning:
None of us can endure spiritual isolation. We were intended to. Like plants need water and sunshine, we need to be gathering with other believers to open our ears to the Word of God being preached, and opening our mouths to proclaim the truth about God. Virtual or in person, we need to plant ourselves in side-by-side community with other believers. Like Beckie and Pearl, we need to invest in “one-anothering” so that—even from a distance—the roots of our hearts become intertwined.
In isolation, we wilt. In community we grow.
Do you believe this warning? Do you live like you believe this warning? If you’re not sure, here are some questions that might help:
- Have you made your way back, as your church’s doors have opened?
- Have you signed up for a small group, or decided to start one (I can help!)?
- Have you shared a meal or a walk with someone who loves Jesus lately?
- Is anybody looking out for you, spiritually? And are you looking out for them?
- When’s the last time you’ve prayed with someone?
- When’s the last time you’ve shared what God was showing you in the Bible with another person?
- When’s the last time you’ve been asked a spiritual question?
Now for some inspiration. I was at my friend Rachel’s house last night and commented on her beautiful little plant, which so aptly displayed the word THRIVE, inscribed onto her flowerpot. Rachel then told me the amazing story of how this little plant had been locked up in her office for months during Covid, and came out of a dark, neglected corner looking pretty lifeless. But after months of pruning and care, this sweet little plant was all perky and green!
I said, “And look, there are three stalks. Three makes a small group! Your plant is thriving in community!” It’s re-thriving.
Friend, that plant’s re-thrive story can be yours. But there’s no time to delay. How will you live like it’s true about one-anothering?
In my Spring “Live like it’s true!” email, I shared a list of one-anothering verses in the Bible. I’d love to send them with you; sign up here!