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Thursday, August 15, 2013

I got your back!

Going it alone in life is a tough way to do business.  Let me tell you from first-hand experience, some tasks are too hard to be done alone!  If you have ever tried to install something overhead, while up on a tall step ladder only to find the object's weight, size, or general configuration makes it almost impossible for you to hold and put it into place with whatever fastens it in its position, you know exactly what I am talking about!  The "weight" of the task is not significant on the ground - but get up in the place where you are a little less stable in your "footing" and the work becomes almost impossible alone! 

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.  Share the work, share the wealth.  And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough!  Two in a bed warm each other.  Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected.  With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third?  A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 MSG)

We are given a few "options" to help us not go it alone in life.  The first is family - something we don't choose for ourselves!  Now, in this day and age of artificial insemination and test tube babies, we might think we are "choosing" our family, but truth be told, the one being born into the "family" has no choice about it!  It is our first place of "existence" - and often our first place of "resistance", as well!  Family is tough work.  To make a go of it, a whole lot of different personalities have to come together to "meld" into a co-existent gathering of intimate beings.  Family is the place we begin to learn the things in life we will need later on - values, love, etc.  Whenever there is just a group of people "co-existing", but not "co-investing" in each other, the things we learn may get a little messed up.  The values don't come out so well-formed, the love seems a little warped, and the ability to relate to others is "conditioned" by what an individual is exposed to most frequently.

By the time I was in first grade, my siblings had left the nest.  It was just me, my parents, and my grandmother - along with a dog, parakeet, and an occasional other pet in the mix here and there.  I learned pretty quickly my need for social connection with those outside of my family - other kids!  I needed others with similar interests.  We call this group of individuals friends. On hot summer days, we'd hang out by the pool, slip and slide on a water laden piece of plastic, or just climb trees together.  It may not seem significant when you consider the activity we'd engage in, but what was learned in those moments was invaluable.  We learned cooperation, creativity, compassion, and the camaraderie.  The tree house got built because we all contributed a little of this or that.  We shared in the design work.  When hammers inadvertently hit the thumb instead of the head of the nail, one would run home for a popsicle for the other to dull the pain.  Yep, there were lessons learned even in the tree tops.

As life progressed, a new group came into play - co-workers.  It was in these relationships were we learned the fine art of getting along with those we really did not choose to be "partnered" with!  The workplace is a blending of some of the most unlikely personalities - all with a purpose, but whose purpose may be entirely different from your own.  It is there we learned the importance of the values we were exposed to earlier in life and employed the learned skills of teamwork formed with our friends of younger years.  This group challenged us to develop strong commitments toward a common goal - something we began to learn in family and our social network of friends as we were growing up. 

If these were not enough, God added another entirely different group to the mix - one which was designed to give us accountability, teach us to dwell in unity, and to challenge us to grow.  This group is known as the church.  Here we cultivated our relationship with God, then with others.  We learned the tough lessons of laying down our own demanding wants for the needs of another.  We were exposed to the honest expressions of love and caring which exist where two or more are gathered in his name.  Without this group, we'd go off on all kinds of self-fulfilling adventures, but miss out on the one adventure which really cements it all together for us - the adventure of looking beyond ourselves into the heart of another!

So, going it alone is not God's plan.  From the beginning, he planned for family.  He made opportunities for friendships.  He created workplaces for our talents to take flight.  He opened doors for our spiritual growth and loving exchange of our worries with his peace.  Isn't it good to see how there has been someone who has had our back all along the way?  Family, friends, co-workers, and church companions - all working together to hold each other up, give each other needed supply, and challenge each other to excel beyond what eye sees.  Isn't it good to know God has our back in all this stuff we call life? Just sayin!