Choose Gather

“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, NIV)

“Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

“For wherever two or three come together in honor of My Name, I am right there with them!” – (Matthew 18:20, TPT)

 

Loneliness is something nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another, as it is brought on either by isolation, or more often, by lack of true connection. We can be surrounded by people and feel completely alone. This occurs when authentic connections are not established. God has declared that it is not good for us to be alone, and that two are better than one. This is not just reserved for marriage, but for friendships and familial-like connections as well. We are created and designed to be in community. The promise is provided that when we gather in His Name, God will be with us. Though He is always present, His nearness is more tangibly known in the company of others who have gathered together with purpose. This is the intention of “church”. It is an opportunity to gather in His Name and create authentic connections with those around us. At times, the group that gathers for a church service is too large to truly connect, so it requires an additional investment of time to get to know others with whom familial connections are established. A solution that some churches have is to offer small groups; at Grace (where we are invested) they are called Life Groups. Though there is a risk in stepping out of one’s comfort zone to meet with new folks and gather together, each time I have done so, I have walked away enriched, knowing new people for whom I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know. May we intentionally choose to invest in our relationships, making fellowship a priority, so that we may know people, and in turn, be known.

Both mom and my sister are in a space of unexpected isolation. Mom, as she is away from her home and the community that she has invested in for many years; and my sister, as she works tirelessly to juggle work, family, and caring well for mom, finding there are simply not enough hours in the day to connect with the community she holds close. God is good, and can make a way where there seems to be no way. Both, are in need of His covering, care and grace, as they navigate and need community. It is my prayer that rapid healing happens, and more opportunities for outings for each of these amazing ladies occur.

 

May we choose gather, img_2019-09-23_05-22-377139561410898030072.jpg

Come close in His Name;

Discover the grace,

In Christ we can claim.

Whenever we meet,

With a heart for Him;

His presence is shown,

As love enters in.

Loneliness scatters,

As connections form;

To know and be known,

Is how hearts transform.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to be present when we gather in Your Name. Thank You that You make Your presence known. Thank You that You designed and created us for relationships. Forgive us for the times that we have either isolated ourselves or allowed others to remain in isolation when we can do something to help pull them out. Teach us how to navigate relationships well, so that we would love others in a way that knows people and helps them feel known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in fellowship in the communities in which You have placed us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

 

 

Bound Together

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, TLB)

 

For years, this verse has been my hope and prayer, held in my heart, especially the last sentence about a cord of three strands being so strong. As my Viking and I prepared to wed, we did a bit of research about Nordic wedding traditions. Incredibly, we found that often, in Nordic weddings, there is a hand-tying portion of the ceremony where the bride and groom’s hands are bound together in a triple-braided cord to represent the two coming together and be bound to one another with God. The visual representation of this joining together very closely matched an image that has stuck with me for a very long time. Consequently, together with our Pastor, we incorporated this tradition into our wedding ceremony.

Already, as we drove home from Wenatchee yesterday, (where our wedding took place) this verse proved itself true for us. We came upon horrendous traffic, and the typical two-and-a-half hour drive turned into eight hours. On our own, either one of us would have been ready to tap out; however, with the support of one another and the grace of God, we successfully navigated our way home through the heat and traffic, unscathed and still speaking to one another.  The wonderful thing about the promise held in two being better than one, is that it perpetuates our charge to be engaged in the body. If we love God and love one another, we are not alone and have the strength of that three-strand cord. May we ever invest in our relationship with God and one another so that we may stand together in His strength, no matter what comes our way.

 

Our God has designed, wp-15323501515116858327490790099683.jpg

Us not be alone;

Binds us together,

In heart and in home.

Wherever two stand,

Their strength is greater;

As joined by the Lord,

Loving Creator.

Let two choose unite,

And in God abide;

For their strength shall stand,

With grace found inside.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with each other. Thank You that when two join together and invite You to be the center, You come and intertwine Your heart with ours and grant us strength. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to take on what lies before us on our own. Teach us to trust You and those whom You have given us to walk beside. Show us how to love each other in a way that joins hearts and minds in Your purpose to walk out Your plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand with You as a three-strand cord, bound in Your strength, hope and love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth  (Moreno) Grabrick and Revelations in Writing,

May 2011 – present

 

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together. – Psalm 34:3