The Church on the End of the Line
Every other Monday evening, I hastily move through our kids’ bedtime routine, and grab for my phone as the minutes tick closer to the hour. More often than not I’m late—when bedtime questions, stories, or melt-downs take over. Yet in that routine hour from 8 to 9 PM, I prop my phone to my ear and experience the kindness of the Lord through his church on the other end of the line.
It all began during the lockdowns of COVID-19. As the isolation from the Sunday gatherings wore on me that first spring, I reached out to a friend from our church. I wanted to connect with someone. I wanted to pray with an arm, a leg, or maybe a foot of the body that lately felt severed. Yet doubts and insecurities swarmed my head before I texted the question. What if she says no? What if she won’t have time? What if she doesn’t want to get that close to me?
Thankfully God encouraged my hopes over my fears. I finally texted and asked my friend if she’d like to pray together on a regular basis. And she did. So now, every other week we slow down from our busy everyday to share what God is doing. We share struggles, heartache, and we laugh about mothering our sometimes-wild but always-loveable kids. We exchange prayer requests and we end each phone call with a petition to the Lord we both depend upon.
In the midst of those simple calls, I get a glimpse of the beautiful kindness of the body of Christ.
If you read Christian blogs, websites, or even social media posts these days, you’ll find a lot of teaching about the importance of the body of Christ. Especially now as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, reminders on the value of the local church abound in think pieces and articles.
Yet as we read these needed and important calls to community, I hope you remember communion with the saints isn’t executed in just one ideal. It can be found in a hundred different ways. It’s easy to scroll through our newsfeeds and latch on to the perfect picture of community. While bouncing our screaming baby on our hip and telling our toddler to get off the table, we catch a glimpse of a friend’s Bible study meeting on Facebook, complete with quiet rooms and fancy coffees. We might wonder if we’ll ever be in a season to enjoy that kind of friendship. Or while battling crippling fatigue once again, we scroll through our Instagram and feel the weight of all we can’t do. We wonder if maybe spiritual community isn’t for us.
Whether you’re in a brand new church and city, have a particularly hard season of work or motherhood, have to commute a longer distance to your local church body, or have a host of other reasons- your form of community may look a little different than others. And that’s ok. Maybe you can’t meet a sister at a quaint coffee shop weekly, but perhaps instead you can set aside an hour for a phone call a few times a month. If you find yourself unable to join the women’s Bible study in this season, could you intentionally text and check up with a friend each week to exchange purposeful encouragement?
Of course we’d all rather have those regular dedicated coffee dates or meals together in each other’s physical presence. But just because we can’t have our ideal doesn’t mean God won’t lavish his kindness and grace on us through the community we are able to hold.
It’s scary though, I get it. I felt it too. It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone and ask someone to let you be a bigger part of their life. You might wonder if you’re smart enough. What are you going to say? What if you don’t pray right? What if you don’t know how to help them with their struggles?
The great thing about our Lord is that he never calls us to do anything on our own. He knows we need him. He knows we are dependent upon him. So when he calls us to commune with the saints and to encourage one another, he’s not sending us out to do it on our own.
Each phone call with my friend, I’m always amazed at the way the Lord uses her in ways she never even realized. A phrase in one of her prayers or a simple statement has opened my eyes to a perspective or encouragement I needed to hear. She had no idea at the time, but the Lord used her to teach and instruct me.
Ultimately these relationships aren’t solely about how much knowledge we can impart together anyway. They offer us another chance to experience the faithful, steadfast love of another. In our busy lives it’s hard to find anything constant, but when we step out and faithfully text, call, or even e-mail, we’re telling a sister or brother in Christ that we will continue to be there.
We’re locking arms with them in our pilgrimage to Christ—together. We’re reflecting the kind of steadfast love our Father gives to us. We do this each Lord’s Day as we gather to worship. We can find this faithfulness in our small groups and Bible studies. And sometimes this beautiful gift can even be found on the other end of the phone line.
Are there some steps you can take toward communing with the saints today—whatever that may look like? It’s a little bit scary, but it will be worth it.
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