In honor of 2015, Jacob and I are going to share a few things we have learned throughout the last year. We’re so thankful that God keeps showing up, because we couldn’t do anything without Him!
1: He designed authentic community; we just get to live it.
In October, I had the opportunity to fill in for Jon and teach at one of our weekend gatherings. We discussed the positive connotation of being “blessed” with provision and that most of us desire blessings from God. However, one unusual thing God has blessed us with is a NEED. He has blessed us with the need for relationships with Him and with others. This necessity of dependence on others is opposite from the cultural priority placed on independence and self-sufficiency. But it’s exactly how God created us! A couple of the scriptures we focused on were:
“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” Ephesians 2:19,21
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 17:5
Both of these verses focus on the importance of relationship! We desire for relationships within The Table community to be authentic and genuine, where people feel free to be themselves and know they are deeply loved. We are so excited to be establishing a community based on these concepts and have seen friendships blossom over the last year!
2: His plan is best, even if it hurts.
As a pair of relatively-newlyweds, we are still learning new things about each other all the time! If you have met Jake, you know he is pretty handy. He can fix and figure out almost anything! (For which, I am VERY thankful!) He also works hard… very hard. For example, most days he comes home from work with a various array of cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It’s not that he’s intentional about getting hurt, he is just focused on accomplishing the task. To him, doing his best to complete a job is more important than a little a boo-boo. He would never shy away from doing something the correct way, because he thought he might get hurt in the process.
And this is where we differ… I like to avoid getting hurt. When the little pain sensors in my brain light up, I prefer to stop immediately and go find a band-aid or cry for a minute over a newly established bruise. So when it comes to surrendering to God’s plan, I’m a little more hesitant than my dear husband. In a situation where God says “Trust me.” Jacob would immediately say, “Ok.” But you might find me having a short conversation with God that sounds a little like, “Ok are you sure? Because last time it all worked out, but it still hurt along the way. Is that going to happen again? Because I didn’t really like that part.”
God is constantly challenging us to rely on Him fully, to surrender everything to Him, and trust His plan for our lives. Its essential to our relationship with Him, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Jon has shared this portion of John 15 with us several times this year.
“Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit…” John 15:2
Our entire team at The Table has been through a refining process this year. Consistently renewing our commitment to surrender everything to Christ. I would challenge you not to shy away from God’s plan, even though it may hurt, it’s all in the interest of bearing more fruit!
3: Wait is a four-letter word.
Over the summer I wrote this:
“Jacob and I are learning to wait. Over the last month, we’ve been waiting… a lot. It seems like we’re waiting on everything: jobs, housing, etc. etc! Though we’re not actually concerned about the end result, we know God is working everything out! But we’ve been living as though we’re on the brink of these transitions without any control over the timing. This has caused our impatient attitudes to surface. God has challenged us to not only wait, but to honor Him with our attitudes through the process.“
As in most situations, God proves that he has a plan and purpose for the blank space in our lives. This blank space is the time between here and there, now and then, and the answer to each of our questions. We fill this space with worrying and wondering about the next step or answer to our prayer, but God desires for us to fill it with lessons of His faithfulness, new characteristics of Godliness, and proof of His unwavering love. This year we’ve been learning how to wait and even if it hasn't been fun we're thanking God for His patience along the way!
4: Humility: it’s all about Him and He’s all about us.
Sharing stories is a significant part of our Table Gatherings. One Saturday this fall, the topic of The 120 was “a time when you learned a lesson.” Though many lessons came to mind, namely one about refrigerating chicken broth after opening it, a specific trip sparked my memory!
One summer in college, I traveled with a group of students from Evangel University on study trip to Israel, Egypt and Jordan. This was a life-changing 3 weeks spent touring the Holy Lands! One overarching memory I have is feeling very small and very significant, all at the same time. It was overwhelming to see places I had read about in scripture and to recognize the shear size of God and His plan. His love for us has been woven through all of history! The evidence of His passion for us stood out to me through various people in The Bible. Not just the main characters, but also those who were only mentioned in one verse. Maybe just by a first name or by no name at all. These individuals may have lived their entire lives feeling small and unnoticed. But all these years later, we notice them as a piece of the puzzle significant enough to be mentioned in God’s Word. They may have never known the part they would play in God’s plan of salvation, but He used them to reach us.
Most days I can’t believe God loves us enough to let us be a part of what He’s doing! There has been nothing more humbling to me than to realize I could live my whole life and only a moment of it may be essential to God’s greater plan. But there has also been nothing more thrilling to me than to think even a moment in my life could be an essential part of God’s plan to bring people to Himself! I have been reminded of this lesson many times this year: It’s all about Him and He’s all about us!
Thank you for your support and love. We pray that your year has been full of moments spent enjoying authentic community, affirmation of God's plan for your life, productivity in your waiting, and reminders that its all about Him!