You’re running around, you’re living life, enjoying yourself, doing the things that you love, but there is a part of you that still feels empty. It’s strange really, how there could be so much good going on in your life right now, but still a small pang in your heart that just won’t let you be.
It could be a lot of things; maybe you have been a little busy for God, your family has some stuff going on, or maybe those things are good, but still you feel a loneliness that is hard to put into words. Maybe things with your friends are good! Together you always have good clean fun and you love them, but maybe what your heart longs for is something a little more personal – more intimate - from your friends. How do you get that? What does it look like? Who will start your community down that path? These questions are all things we will check out in this next section.
Carrie jumped out of her car she headed inside. It had been a long day at school, then work had asked her to stay late to help do a deep cleaning of the restaurant. She looked over at the clock. Yikes! It was already eleven and she hadn’t even started her homework yet. It would have to wait. She had too many things bouncing around in her mind to try to focus right now. She ran up to her parent’s room, told them she was home, then pulled her phone out of her pocket. She knew it was late for a school night, but she also knew her best friend would still be up.
As she listened to the phone ring, she thought back to the day she had first met her best friend Corry…
Carrie had just moved to a new high school, a common yet still nerve-wracking thing even for her who had been “new” at least four times. Lunch. That was always the worst part of a new place. Where do you sit? Sometimes she got lucky and met someone right off the bat…other times, like this time, not so lucky. She stalled the whole picking-a-seat process by going through the lunch line, a trick of the trade you could say, more time to skim the faces of the crowd and determine if there was a friendly face out there or not. In the end it looked like the friendly faces were all hiding for the moment. She knew they were there, but…she just didn’t know where they were yet. Rough.
Carrie picked a seat not too far from a few tables that were half full. A half full table meant there would be room for someone to invite her to join them; placement was key. Work the eyes she thought to herself, look open, friendly, a little nervous, “accidently” catch a few peoples’ eye…while it dawned on her that asking to sit with someone would probably have been easier; she would try that tomorrow; it was sort of fun playing this game of hers. Who would notice, who would approach first? What she hadn’t been expecting was Corry.
She had just been batting eyes with a boy across from her when Corry came over and plopped herself right next to her. The two girls exchanged a glance then Corry started in on her.
“You new around here?” Corry asked.
Carrie looked around, confused and a little taken back by this girl. This was something new, something that had never happened before. Corry waited expectantly for a reply, but for once Carrie was speechless.
“That’s what I thought. Well look here. My name is Corry; short for I’ll never tell you what. If you want to sit with my friends and me, you can follow me, but you have to quit batting your eyes at that boy over there; nothing but trouble and believe me, trouble you don’t want. I’ll show you want you need to know to survive around here and who knows, maybe you and I will become friends. I’ll tell you this much. I like you, I think we’ll get along, but hurry up and follow me before trouble moves in or your food gets cold; I’ll introduce you to the other girls…”
Carrie looked down at her phone; Corry hadn’t answered. Maybe she had called it an early night. She put her phone to the side and opened up her backpack. Homework. Corry would call her back if she could. There was nobody quite like Corry. If she wasn’t satisfied, she told you. If she thought the group should do something or change the way they acted, she started the shift. Corry was herself through and through. She shared when people asked, helped those that she could, took initiative and even invited people to come to church with her! Carrie didn’t know much about church, but since Corry had asked, she had gone. They talked a lot about this guy named Jesus. She still had questions. Wasn’t too sure about the whole thing, but there were others their age and she enjoyed getting to hang out and have fun with the other students that showed up. It was fun.
Just then her phone rang. It was Corry. She answered it. They caught up with one another and made plans to meet early the next morning. When Carrie hung up her phone she began to think back on the other places she had been. What made this new place different? A lot of it had to do with Corry, but it was more than that. With these girls she felt freedom. Freedom to be herself, freedom to share her thoughts and feelings, a safe place to ask questions, to initiate different things and, as Corry would say, a freedom to be whom God made her to be. She still wasn’t sure about this God thing, but she was sure of the freedom she felt.
Corry and Carrie would meet tomorrow morning. Carrie had to tell Corry the news. She was PCSing at the end of the year. She hadn’t expected it so soon. Her parents had just told her last week, but she knew she could tell Corry and knew they would keep in touch. Most of all, she had a new strategy for meeting people wherever life sent her; and if people weren’t there yet, she would be the one to initiate change. Corry had taught her a lot, but most of all, she had taught her the value of finding your team.
Carrie may not know it yet, but she has indeed been created for a specific purpose, hand-crafted and loved deeply by God. Corry started Carrie’s curiosity by simply being herself and by including her in community and Carrie will likely seek out a similar community. You see, we may not understand what we are looking for at first, but once we have experienced it, our heart aches for this kind of team again. It is our job to take what we have learned from our past teams and bring it with us wherever we go next to create something even better. Your team, your community is meant to build one another up, look out for one another and care for one another; but the most important place to begin is by simply being yourself. It was Corry’s joy and light of Christ that attracted people to her, and in this passage of Scripture we will see what it looks like when we have the courage to be whom God has created us to be.
Father help us to not to be content without you and without community. Help us to seek out community. To take the communities we are a part of now and build them into something that brings life and joy to each person a part of our team. Guide us as we walk, encourage us when we feel down, and remind us of the things we have learned. Help us to be ourselves, to take initiative and to share what we have learned. Bless us with your wisdom. Help us to see clearly. We pray these things in Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.
Sometimes it can be hard to imagine that God does desire good things for us, especially if we have dealt with a lot of hurt in our lives, but he does. Check out this passage. What can you learn from it?
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend's house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don't have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Wow! It amazes me each time I read it. If our earthly fathers who fall short know how to give us good things, how much more will our Father in heaven give us good things. Ask God to guide you to good community, to guide you as you build a stronger team. He will be faithful.
What things are you doing to strengthen your team?
- I am intentional in sharing the good things I see in my friends? Yes or No
- I go out of my way to include those who may not have close friends? Yes or No
- My friends are not afraid to call me out on poor behavior? Yes or No
- I have taken initiative to lead my group of friends in new adventures? Yes or No
- My friends and I regularly have deep conversations about life, God and our future dreams and goals? Yes or No
- I feel free to be myself around my friends? Yes or No
- My friends feel free to be themselves around me? Yes or No
- I’m not afraid to share the things I am struggling with? Yes or No
- I can recognize the different strengths in my friends and help my friends discover and use them? Yes or No
- I can bring out the best in my friends? Yes or No
- My friends are people who build me up? Yes or No
- My friends and I are intentional in keeping gossip to a minimum? Yes or No
- My friends help me reach my goals and vice versa? Yes or No
- My friends and I look out for one another? Yes or No
- My friends and I have fun together sharing in life and joy? Yes or No
What are other ways you know your friends and you are in a healthy place, building a strong team? Write it out. If you answered No for any of these, you have found an area to work on with your friends. Sometimes that may mean being the one starting the trend or talking to your friends, but either way, now you know. Take action!
Tyler looked across the lunch room. His Club Beyond leader had recently challenged him to be more inclusive, to reach out to those in need of friends…whatever. He would think about it more tomorrow. Then he spotted Luke. Crap!” Tyler thought to himself. Luke had been the first person to come to mind when his leader had challenged him. He had tried to ignore it, but this…this was too much. He didn’t think God could be any clearer and the last thing he wanted was to be struck by lightning or something weird if he didn’t listen up.
Well…maybe God didn’t do that anymore. He was new to this whole God thing. He hadn’t heard of it happening any time recently, but… “Luke!” He called out. Luke whirled around confused and startled to see Tyler. It’s just one lunch, he thought to himself, I can do this. Tyler motioned for Luke to sit down and he timidly walked up.
“You going to sit or what?” Tyler said. Oh. Maybe that had been a little harsh…sorry. Who was he talking to? Sorry God… “Sooooo…ummm…my name is Tyler.”
“I know,” Luke said, “We go to the same church.”
“We do?” Weird.
Suddenly Tyler’s mind started to fill with questions, a lot of them. He had been going to church and Club Beyond for a few months now, but there were still so many questions. Before he realized it he and Luke were neck deep in a religious conversation. Maybe there was something to this community thing.
Maybe, just maybe, Tyler realized, God does have a plan for each of us and maybe Luke would be just the beginning of many others who would answer questions Tyler had been wondering about, and it all started with one short lunch period and a step of courage.
Jeremiah 1:5 - Before we even existed, God chose us to do great things!
Ephesians 2:8-10 - The Bible tells us that each of us has been created specifically by God for a purpose. All possible because of Christ's sacrifice.
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust God to lead you in all that you do, including relationships with friends.
1 Samuel 16:7 - Christ looks at our heart and knows us. Trust he will guide you through this journey; he knows your desire for a team.
Matthew 5:14-16 - Know that you belong to God and his kingdom and you are a part of community. Let the light of Christ inside you shine so that others may see and be drawn to to you because of Christ.
The Lorax: Starting something new takes courage, changing the direction of a group takes courage, just like Ted had to show when he tried to convince the townspeople that trees were good in the Lorax.
Despicable Me: A strong team around you, strong support around you is something that changes you from the inside out because it gives you a glimpse of the relationship that God desires with you, a glimpse of the love God has for you and a glimpse of the good things God desires for you. Check out Gru.
Check out this movie clip! It’s a favorite Christmas movie of mine.
Life can be hard when we face it on our own. Arthur would not have been able to complete his task, to deliver the last package without the help of his Elf friend. In what other ways did teamwork help Arthur out on his task? In what ways can teamwork help you out in life?