Are you experiencing transitions in your life? With my “50th” birthday creeping closer, I have been talking with Jesus and reflecting on my life. I have had some revelations while reading God’s word and remembering he is the author and director of my life. What he brought to mind was to think of my life as a movie. This “movie” has many genres. It is a family film, a romantic comedy, a drama, a mystery, and some parts could even be considered an adventure. The best part of this revelation is that through every tear and every joy, every high and every low, I can see how the LORD was present and working in every scene. Please don’t get me wrong here; there have been many moments when my tunnel vision was hyper-focused on one clip of my life, and I didn’t feel God’s presence at the time, but as the entire scene played out, I can now see his hand in it all.
As I said in my title, our God is a God of connection. It is who he is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He created us in his image and wants us to be connected to him and his vision of eternal life that is available to all. It is a great promise to tuck deep in your heart that our God is always with us. He is connected to us as our creator, Father, friend, comforter, director, savior, and redeemer who will ultimately lead us home.
This week, I wanted to focus on how God also places others in our stories and encourages us to make connections rooted in his love. We have supporting actors and some cameos appearances in each of our stories.
First, the Supporting Actors: In my life, they have come in the form of family, good friends, a small group, and my pastors. These characters in my story encourage me, challenge me, and love me through my best days and my worst. They are living their own story, but God has connected us, and we get to do life together. Many of my supporting actors have been in my story all along, while others might have just been in it for a few chapters. Again, what is incredible is when I look back at my life is I can see God's hand in all of it.
Throughout scripture, God reminds us that we need to be dependent. Even though each of us has our own story, we must be wholly dependent on him and each other. The song, Lean On Me, by Bill Withers comes to mind…..
”Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on, For, it won't be long, till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on."
We see a great example of this in the book of Exodus. During this time in the Bible, the Israelites are sent into battle. Moses realizes that he is being called to keep his arms raised for the entire day so the Israelites would win the war. God knew this was an impossible task for Moses to do alone, so he sent Aaron and Hur to come alongside Moses and give him the support he needed to help God's will be done. What an important message: when we support each other, extraordinary things can happen. God knows we can go out and make a difference when we are filled up, so he is constantly creating opportunities for us to connect and support others.
Suppose you are reading this and don't feel like God has blessed you with a core group of solid Christian friends. Maybe you are new to an area or don't feel like you have people breathing life into you. I suggest you find a thriving church in your area and ask the pastor to help you connect with a small group. Or look for a Bible Study in your area. Many of them offer day, evening, and even zoom meetings. Like all things, getting comfortable to a point where you can be vulnerable takes effort and time, but I believe these connections can be life-changing. Another great way to connect deeply with someone is to become prayer partners. Ask a family member or friend if you can chat weekly and share prayer requests. Meet and pray together. Give each other specific prayers that you will both be praying. Help one another be bold in prayer. One last suggestion is to ask someone to be your mentor. Do you know someone with a strong faith or who just radiates the light of Jesus? Ask them to meet for coffee and see if they would be willing to help you grow in your walk with Jesus. I bet the answer will be YES, it would be my honor!
Another important group of people in my story are the "cameo appearances." These are amazing people that God uses to do some really cool things. Some people call these appearances a coincidence, but I call them a "God-incidence." God can use people who are connected to him to be his hands and feet on this earth. The cameo in your story could be as small as a meaningful conversation in an uber or on the airplane or praying specifically for someone you've never met.
A quick trip to pick up my niece from a birthday party led to a cameo appearance by Angie (the birthday girl's mom). I have only met and seen Angie this one time, but it changed my life. Through this God-incidence, the idea of PrayerBowls came about. Now, I pray that I can be an “Angie” in someone's life.
Many of you, our PrayerBowl family, have also made cameo appearances in my story. I want to say thank you and let you know I have been greatly encouraged through letters, emails, phone calls, and words of support. Your willingness to take the time to reach out when the Holy Spirit nudges you is a continuous reminder of God’s goodness being carried out through his people. And one day, I know you will have the opportunity to hear the Lord say, “A job well done, my good and faithful servant."
This week, I invite you to reflect on the supporting actors and cameo appearances in your life. The community that God has surrounded you with that helps you be a better person. It might even be a person that changed your life's whole trajectory. Take some time to reach out and tell them how much you appreciate them and how your life is better because of them. Say a prayer for each of these amazing people God has put in your life.
Here are a few verses that might be good to share with those who have supported and encouraged you.
I am thankful that you are a God of connection. That you, the author and director of my life, have a good story planned for me. I thank you for the beautiful Christian brothers and sisters that you have placed in my life. Those that hold me up when I grow weary, those who encourage me to live a life that honors you, and those that make a brief but powerful appearance. Please help me to see you in every connection that I make. I want to be life-giving to all I encounter, from holding the door open for someone, to taking time to put the world on pause and listen to a good friend in their struggle. LORD, I want my story to honor you and point everyone I encounter toward your love, your goodness, and your Kingdom.