Last week the first season of Cor Deo’s full-time programme drew to a close. We have been so encouraged by these twenty weeks together as ten men standing shoulder to shoulder and responding to God.
Highlights have included significant levels of soaking in God’s Word together, plunging into parts of church history to see the richness of some of those that have gone before, serving side by side and doing all this in the context of mutual enjoyment and relationship. Now we have gone our separate ways, knowing that many of the relationships formed will last a lifetime.
So what makes the difference between this kind of experience being a mountain top versus a launch pad? We certainly don’t want to crash after the blessing of this time together, so how do we kick on to continued richness of experience in our lives and ministries?
One thing we considered was the need to proactively pursue the kind of relationships that we need. After all, God is inherently relational and has created us in His image. We can protect ourselves from some pain by choosing not to engage with others; but ultimately, as CS Lewis noted, to not love is to ultimately grow numb and feel nothing at all (a living death?)
I think we need to have Paul and Silas, or David and Jonathan, type relationships. Peer to peer, shoulder to shoulder, mutually committed to each other, deep relationships that somehow seem to give so much life to those blessed with them. We need people with whom we can stand shoulder to shoulder and delight in God together. We need people to journey together on the adventure of faith. We need people to fight with and fight for, for nobody is as vulnerable as the one who is alone.
I think we also need to have Timothys in a Paul and Tim type relationship. This is not “me above you, let me serve my own purposes” type of relationships, but rather me a couple of steps further on, reaching back to encourage someone else in their journey. We need people into whom we can invest what God has given to us. Rather than seeking to serve self all the time, we want to look to give ourselves away to others (following in some glorious sandal steps!)
Throw into the mix the Barnabas to Paul type of resourcing and strategic helpers, and I think we are heading toward some level of relational health. So, how do we get this? I suppose it seems obvious, but it bears stating overtly: let’s ask God. After all, He is more passionate about good relationships than we are!
Some years ago I moved from the UK to the USA, and prayerfully prepared a list including a couple of Barnabas’, a Silas or two, and a Timothy. I prayed for these men. I knew who I wanted to pursue, but didn’t know how. I prayed, and God answered. Within a few weeks of arriving, most of the people on the list had approached me! I was amazed.
Ron shared testimony of how he asks God for eyes to see who is ripe for a meaningful season of Bible reading, and how time and again that prayer has been answered to rich effect.
The truth is, every one of us needs deep and edifying relationships. The kind that we have shared together for the past months. The kind that we need to pursue in the next season of life. How are you doing in the deep fellowship aspects of life? It seldom happens by accident, but God delights to answer prayer for connections that will please Him and allow us to give ourselves away to others. Perhaps you should pray for someone to read through the Bible with over the next few months? Maybe God might bring you together with a Cor Deo “alumnus” seeking the same thing!