It’s hard to believe that one week ago today I was on a plane, returning home from a most spiritually uplifting time of sweet refreshing. God had to take me clear across the country…literally from one coast to the other…to remind me that sometimes we have to leave the comfort of what is familiar to experience the glorious.
And I have never been so glad to flee my comfort zone in my entire life.
My heart is completely, utterly, and unquestionably knit together forever with some beautiful women out in California. I’ve been reflecting all week on this glorious love of God that transcends highways and byways, bridges rivers and canyons, and connects hearts and souls.
And I am awed. Amazed. Humbled.
I don’t know why. God never quits being awesome. He never ceases to be amazing. He never stops humbling. Sometimes, though, in the comfort of my everyday life I forget that God longs to WOW-me. So He makes me uncomfortable. It’s in this discomfort that I discover how comfortable I can be when I let Him take me into the unknown and love on me real good every step of the way.
God has this funny way of bringing us to the end of ourselves in the unfamiliar. It’s here that we experience glorious things of our God who brings glory to Himself through surrendered hearts and willing vessels. Things we’ve forgotten. Or forfeited. There’s just something so holy about being brought low. Something so humbling when I pour out and God pours in. It’s in this place we’re overwhelmed by Love.
And the ladies of Glendora loved all over me with the love of Christ. From the moment Cathy began communicating with me through email to the moment Cheryl picked me up at the airport to the moment Joann and her husband received me into their home to the moment I met Felice for the first time to the moment I entered the retreat center and was introduced to 50-plus amazing women who came with the anticipation of meeting with our Jesus, I felt as if I’d known them forever, our hearts entwined, knitted together like a beautifully stitched afghan warming my body and comforting my soul.
I will never forget them.
As I was reflecting on this I remembered that Scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 18:1, 3 & 4, “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself…then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.”
This encounter between David and the son of king Saul follows David’s triumph over the Philistine giant, Goliath. Jonathan had not only seen David’s courage and witnessed his victory, but he had heard David speak boldly in defense of the one true God, the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.
Jonathan felt a kinship with David because they were like-minded. To knit means to tie, physically, to gird; to bind together, league together. I guess you could say they were in “a league all their own.” They shared a bond and that bond was rooted in their love for the Lord God. I’m sure Jonathan admired David’s courage and respected his bold attack against the enemy, but there’s just something about someone who shares your love for the Lord.
(Me and this girl. Felice. What can I say?)
Believers that come together in oneness of heart and soul, in the glorious love of Christ Jesus, are true kindred spirits. They’re not strangers. There’s no discomfort. Nothing unfamiliar about that. I may have flown to California thinking I was going to bless those women with encouragement in the Word of God, but God threw me a curve ball. They will never know how God used them to bless me good.
When it was time for me to leave I cried. As much as I missed my husband, my family, and my friends back home, I still felt a sadness in my heart because these precious women would be so far away.
2,554.6 miles to be exact.
How can you explain this kind of feeling except for the love of God? I thought of Paul’s tearful good-bye with his Ephesian brothers and sisters in Christ, how they knelt in the sand before he boarded the ship, weeping and praying at the thought of never seeing him again.
I thought of the words he wrote to the Romans in 1:11, “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
And the words he wrote to the church in Corinth, recorded in 2 Corinthians 3: 2 & 3, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
And his words in Philippians 1: 3-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. In view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.”
I think Paul knew what it meant to have his heart bound and knitted together with those he came to love through his ministry. That love transcended highways and byways, bridged rivers and canyons, and connected hearts and souls. Love is sometimes puzzling, baffling, and perplexing, but the pure love of Christ will always be a glorious thing.
I pray that I’ll be reunited again this side of heaven with my California friends because they left an imprint on my heart that will never wash away. Thank goodness for Facebook and Instagram. If Jesus returns before an earthly reunion, I can’t think of anything more glorious than celebrating together on streets of gold.
So, to my dear friends who live on the opposite side of the country, “Thank you for inviting me to flee my comfort zone. Thank you for embracing me. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. I am forever grateful.”
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I use to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy M. Montgomery
*Top photo taken by Felice