Tangled Stories

Follower of Jesus, Do you wanna be used by God to make a difference in the lives of other people? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your community? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your workplace? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your church? Do you want to leverage who you are and what you’ve been given to reach your neighbors, your city, and your world with Gospel-focused ministries of mercy so they might come to know, love and follow Jesus into His Kingdom?

Let your story get tangled up in someone else’s story. It can be scary for the closed-off or “private” person. It can be messy for the easily offended or self-righteous. It can be incredibly tense for those who want to keep their sin in the dark. But this is who the church is…people whose stories are interwoven into the tapestry of God’s story…TOGETHER.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; [10] for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up! [11] Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? [12] And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB

Don’t get hung up on the number two or three. The idea here is companionship. What he’s saying here is that It is futile to live alone, to learn alone, to labor alone. In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul does a beautiful job of explaining this with an analogy of a body:

For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, [5] so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.

Romans 12:4-5 NASB

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You’ll never connect with anyone unless they first feel cared for by you or they show you that they care about you. It’s more than words; it’s action. Let your hellos turn into hugs. Let your shared glances turn into shared meals. Too many times we wait for others to initiate because we’re scared and insecure. We’re intimidated by personal space. We hold people at arms length because we don’t want to be hurt. Truth is, that doesn’t work either. Even if we don’t put ourselves out there, we get our feelings hurt because other people don’t know how to engage with a porcupine that’s got their quills out. We get jealous of full, thriving, loving relationships others have but we’re afraid to invest what they’ve invested. If someone doesn’t reciprocate your gesture, try again. If someone resists your kindness, move on. There are so many others whom God wants to use you to encourage toward love and good deeds that you just can’t get derailed by someone who didn’t engage with you.

In Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18, Jesus engaged with a young man who, at first, seemed interested in relationship with Him. But once the man realized what it would cost him, we are told that he walked away…grieving. He was deeply sad. I wonder how that made Jesus feel? But I’ve always found it interesting to watch what Jesus did. He just let him walk away. He didn’t chase after him. He didn’t take it personal or become bitter. He didn’t lump everybody into the same crowd as that one young man and give up. Jesus let him walk away, and then Jesus turned around and started investing in more people. He never mentioned the young man again.

Tell your story. Share your story…let them become part of it. Share your life. Ask others to tell you their story. Invest in their story. Become part of their story. INVITE them to become part of your story. Open your heart. Open your home. Open your life.

God puts very, very few people in a place to influence the masses with a megaphone. We see that in the narrative of the Bible. He more often uses our story in personal settings, one on ones, two on twos. Small, intimate, life-giving Groups that are deeply invested in one another.

“I’m too busy for that.” Listen, I have a ton of acquaintances that are “movers and shakers”. They are always busy, juggling 5 or 6 things, being productive, always working on another side hustle. They’re always rushing from one thing to head to another event that is going to enhance their life-leverage, make their children better people or performers, achieve another notch in their belt of success. Here’s what’s interesting…none of them are good FRIENDS. I’d like for them to be…but they’re just too busy. You can’t cram me in for a lunch, pencil me in for a meeting, or sandwich me in for an event and get to KNOW me and CARE about me. It takes lots of time. It takes sacrificial investment. It takes valuable energy. My best friends aren’t necessarily the people that are most like me. My best friends, my partners in ministry, my dearest neighbors and family members are those who spend the most time with me making the most impact, receiving AND reciprocating in tangled RELATIONSHIP with me.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 18, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” I’m so thankful for the Jonathans who have gotten their stories tangled in my story.

It’s not about where you find them…they’re everywhere. David found Jonathan in the house of his worst enemy. So often we dismiss a whole school, a whole job site, or a whole church as unfriendly or unworthy of our investment. It’s just not true. It’s not about where you find them…it’s what you do to make them.

Get messy. Get tangled.

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