This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Beth Moore event with some women from several local churches. As nice as it was to eat several meals without anyone asking for milk or sobbing that they were "all done" as soon as I sat down ... that wasn't the most important part of getting away.
At one point in my walk, in my life as a believer, I grew tired of "the church." As a human institution, church bodies can often be painful places. I won't lie, some of the deepest wounds I've experienced have happened within the church body. So at one point in my life I decided I had had enough.
I didn't walk away from God - I wasn't doubting my beliefs. But I was sick of religion and sick of the groups of people in those brick-and-mortar walls. It was unknowingly an act of defiance and disobedience, but those days I wasn't doing a lot of praying for the revelation of sin in my life.
"God and I can do this without them", I thought. My Bible was always close by, but admittedly I didn't open it very often back then.
Eventually I came to realize God intended us to walk out our faith together. And that I was going to need to ask Him for some of that blessed grace and mercy He pours out on me so I could pour it out for others. Even if they didn't know it or didn't accept it.
This weekend I was moved to tears several times. Not just by the message being shared. Just watching and experiencing the fellowship among these women. We don't all go to the same church. We spanned several generations in age. I only know bits and pieces of all our stories, but I know that for this weekend they intersected and it was beautiful. Refreshing. Uplifting.
Friendship is sweet, but fellowship over open Bibles talking of our savior ... getting to know Him, and each other, better through vulnerability and shared meals. Shared stories. Shared rooms and childless trips to Target ... intertwined with shared faith ... it is fresh air to the soul.
God never intended for us to do this alone. Let's do more throwing off pretense and being real with each other. Let's dig in the Word together. Let's encourage one another. Let's be convicted by one another instead of calloused toward one another. Let's be quick to listen, quick to forgive, quick to "shake off" offenses, and unafraid to "shake up" one another. I'll take the wounds from a faithful friend over the sugar-coated words of an enemy any day.