Friends in Christ

Blog – 10-3-19
 
 
We all have friends in our lives from a variety of places, whether it’s activities our kids are involved in, co-workers, neighbors, old college friends, sporting events, people from church. The list goes on and on.
 
I would guess that you have a fairly casual relationship with a vast majority of the friends that are in your life. You like them. You get along. You share interests. You do fun things together. But how many of them can you go deep with? How many of them do you trust enough to go beyond the surface conversations and share those hard parts of your story?
 
I spoke and sang at two women’s retreats last week at a Christian camp in California called Sugar Pine. I’ve been there before with Rachel Barrentine, my co-writer from Nashville, and it’s a sweet retreat center located in the beautiful Yosemite mountains. I was thrilled and excited to go back again this year.
 
And God showed up in a powerful way! Honestly, it was one of my best weeks in ministry to date. The connections that I witnessed between the women who attended the retreats and the connections I made personally with the women were authentic, deep, and life-changing.
 
I saw firsthand how quickly you make friends when you are friends in Christ. 
 
I shared parts of my story from the stage with the ladies, the good and the hard, the victories and the defeats, and I shared even more in the intimate, one-on-one conversations at dinner and during breaks. I was blessed to hear their stories as well, even though many of them would absolutely break your heart. They did mine. There is so much pain and suffering this side of heaven.
 
But the miracle in the midst of the hard is because of the bond that we share in our faith, I witnessed the need to “have it all together” lessened. For the truly brave, I saw the walls removed completely and replaced by real, authentic spiritual community. As women poured out their hearts through their tears, my spirit was moved. As we prayed together for healing and peace, you could literally feel the Holy Spirit’s presence among us. 
 
It showed me again how beautiful community can be when we are open and honest about our struggles and are brave enough to walk out grace in real-time.
 
I was also amazed to see so much hope in the midst of the struggles. Hope for healing. Hope for new beginnings. Hope for God’s perfect peace in the midst of the chaos of life. Hope for relationships to be restored. Hope for lost sons and daughters to come back to their faith. Hope that is firmly grounded in nothing other than faith in Jesus Christ.
 
Truth is, God created us for community. None of us is meant to do this life alone. We try. We hide in all kinds of ways. We fear telling others about our struggles. But we are meant to be in fellowship with other believers, and that’s where true healing can occur.
 
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20
 
I saw Christ amongst us. I felt the Spirit’s presence in a real, tangible way. I witnessed healing breaking through the darkness.
 
My prayer for you, my friend, is that you will seek out those friendships that are real and authentic. I pray you will find the courage to move beyond the surface to authentic, real spiritual relationships. I pray you will gather with other believers, knowing and expecting God to be present.
 
I know you will be blessed, just as I was, by the friends in Christ God puts in your path!
 
Hugs and love,
 
Jill