About a month ago, I had the honor of being on the faculty at the 50th Anniversary of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, near Santa Cruz, CA. I taught two workshops, preached at the Palm Sunday worship, met with conferees and fellow faculty and editors. Yeah, hectic and rushed and crushed. But MH lies in the coastal redwoods with a canyon carved by Bean Creek and with ample trails. Strolling among the redwoods with a friend works well to restore a drained soul, and I took full advantage of it. On a trail on a steep hillside, I just happened to look up to see the redwoods in the pic above. Erosion had sucked away much of the soil at the root ball of two trees, then winds and gravity took over the arborcide. But if I can personify this, the tree’s friends whispered, “Lean on us.” They kept them from falling, and they then sent out new roots so they could stand on their own.
A nice metaphor for following Jesus, isn’t it? God designed the god-life as connections. He calls the church the body of Christ, where all are needed. I’ve never found a single New Testament praise of a solitary Christian life, but many that value our connecting.
One passage, years back, challenged this “Solitary Man” to open up more. I’m still in process, but my life is better for it. Yes, I’ve been burned by those I opened up to in trust. Yes, I balance some caution, but try to default to openness. Here’s that life-changer.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT).
Yes, God designed us for connection, then gives three reasons how connecting brings success. When we fall, we get a lift—like the redwood. We gain relational warmth from closeness. We support one another in hard times.
Let’s take some time to examine the level of our connections.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you lean to the solitary side, where you do it on your own? How has that worked? Would connections have helped you through them? Who in your life is close enough to feel free enough to ask you for support? Who in your life is close enough that you can ask them for support? If you need to grow in your connecting, spend some time talking to
God about people you can begin to connect better with.