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Founded in Relationship

I will admit, I am not an overly affectionate or “touchy feely” sort of person. I’m not generally the one to initiate hugs between friends. I’m not a fan of crowded couches where other people’s bodies are pushed up against mine. Unless I know you are really well, or you are a small child, please do not rest any part of your body on mine. My personal space bubble is admittedly larger than most people’s and I am 100% OK with that reality.

The downside of this larger than usual personal space bubble is that when I really do want or need other people, it can be hard for me to express that and it can be hard for others to hear that. In my opinion, a perfect world would be one in which all relationships with other humans were optional, a bonus. But, ultimately, we were not designed that way. From the very start, when God saw that Adam was alone, He knew Adam needed another human to dwell on the earth with him and so He created Eve.

Despite our often best efforts, no one is perfect and fully accomplished in every talent, skill, and field of study in this world. Everyone has at least one part of life where they fall short because no one is perfect. And so, we are designed to live in community, in relationship with other people.

No, I do not have the patience to quietly ignore a temper tantrum while I teach a reading lesson to the 6 other ten year olds. Thank the Lord, my mom does. Which is why she spent the vast majority of her teaching career working in special education and I have not.

No, I am not talented enough to be a world famous musician or artist but thankfully, there are those who are and who share their talents with the rest of us to bring beauty into our lives. I give thanks for those who feel called to get into tractors and combines each year to grow and harvest the food which feeds us. I love that there are those who aren’t afraid of electricity to wire our houses and maintain electrical wires so I can type on this computer and post on this blog.

A great story to help us see this in action from Scripture is that of Moses and the burning bush found in Exodus 3. Moses, after settling into a nice, calm, simple life as a shepherd in the dessert tending to his father-in-law’s flock, sees something rather odd. A bush which, despite it being on fire, doesn’t actually burn. Here he encounters God in a unique way and God sets Moses on a new path for his life. A path which includes Moses’ return to Egypt, a land where he is wanted for the murder of an Egyptian slave driver, to demand the release of the enslaved Israelite people.

It is a calling which is just about as opposite as possible from what Moses imagined his future to be.

Take a moment to try and empathize with Moses. What would be the most opposite possible path your life could take from where it is at this moment in time? Would it find you facing your fear of needles and blood to become a nurse or doctor? Would it have you give up the spot light to be very much in the quiet background? Would it find you changing your relationship status?

In this moment, standing barefoot before a not burning, burning bush in the wilderness, Moses is being told that life is about to get very, very different from what he had planned. He has a few questions. He has a few doubts. He is, after all, human. These are questions which, yes, are partly from fear of the unknown but also partly from an understanding that Moses has of himself and his level of faith. It isn’t until Moses simply says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else,” that the Scripture says the Lord’s anger burned against him (Exodus 4:14).

Ultimately, God sends Aaron along with Moses to return to Egypt and speak to Pharaoh. I can’t imagine that Moses slept well on that trip as they inched closer and closer to a place to which he never dreamed he would return. It makes me wonder about the conversations around the evening campfires they had as they contemplated how the end of their journey was to go. I know had I been in Moses’ shoes, I would have been ever so grateful for the company.

We aren’t meant to do life alone. Perhaps at no other time in our lives is this clearer than when tragedy strikes. When a church community is healthy, when they understand that no one is perfect and so can accept people for who they are, their ability to overlook disagreements and differences to bond together is a powerful witness. For about a year now I’ve been serving as a part-time pastor of a small congregation in Swea City, Iowa. A well-known couple in the community has been hit with one set back after another. Happening at the end of the month is a benefit lunch for them which has been organized by a team of people from multiple churches and local organizations.

Small towns certainly face their own unique set of challenges but a lesson could easily be learned from them on how to do community well. Their foundations are built on the relationships they have with their neighbors. It’s a great glimpse at what it means for us to have our faith founded in our relationship with our creator.

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