When Walking Alone Meets Community
John is relatively new to Skyline. In fact, John is relatively new to his relationship with God. In October of 2018, he felt a tapping on his shoulder, a message was waiting for him somewhere in the distance. John was compelled to go to church and had a desire to seek God.
With great intentions and an open mind, John started attending Sunday service regularly at Skyline. As he attended, he felt as if weights were being lifted off him and he experienced real forgiveness. He heard the good news! God gave his only Son to pay for all of his sins and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.
He entered what we affectionately call the “spiritual high” phase. Life was simple. It was awesome. John was full of hope. “Possibly even naively hopeful,” he says. With the best intentions, he set out on his journey to fiercely follow God. He even made a note on his phone as a daily reminder to pray 3 intentional prayers. His lists:
Thank you list (things he was thankful for),
NO thank you list (things to ask for forgiveness), and
Please help list (things he needed help with and/or others needed)
His goal was to join a Life Group, buy a journal, keep growing in Christ and keep all of the promises he made. He even signed up for a ministry and tried it for a few weeks. Talk about growth- John was on fire!
Then reality came and smacked him square across the face. He’d heard about this “new heart” that God gives when you accept Jesus as your Savior. And at that moment, he felt like a new man, on a new path, with new (and great) intentions. But why did he still make mistakes? Why did he still make bad decisions? Wasn’t it all supposed to change? “Aren’t I supposed to be magically new?” he’d ask God.
John was in the valley. He saw the rawness of his flesh and sin and felt that he wasn’t earning the salvation and grace given to him. “Feeling His love was awesome, but it felt like it was fading away. I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. I mean, how could I allow my thankfulness to slip away?”
Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you can’t live up to the gift given to you? At one point or another, we all feel this way and it stinks!
So he did what most of us do. He walked away. He walked alone. For a season.
John stopped praying. He felt as if God was tired of hearing from him because he’d squandered it. He wasn’t good enough. He couldn’t keep his promises. But just as God was faithful to call him, He was also faithful to pursue him. You see, John walked away from Life Group and ministry but he kept going to Sunday service. He downloaded a Bible app on his phone, and though broken, kept seeking.
He had a few favorite verses he kept on his phone, but the one that stuck in his heart was Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (ESV)
Life Group signups came around and John bravely decided to give it another go. This time he signed up for a different group. Participating in Life Group was really hard for John. He was always protecting himself. He was so used to being alone and isolated that community felt like a contradiction. And it wasn’t until he stopped walking alone and participating in Life Group that he realized what God was saying in Proverbs 14:12 – that his default-setting of isolation was not what God wanted for him.
He is now in a much different place in his faith-journey. He’s learning all about grace and practicing forgiveness. He consistently shows up and humbles himself before God. He knows he has a lot to learn and is looking forward to growing!
For those considering trying out a Life Group, John says, “Yes, I think you’ll like it.” John tells us that when they meet on Wednesdays, they go over the Sunday message. He often finds new perspectives on the message from their discussions. He aspires to, one day, pray out loud with his group.
With Life Group signups approaching, I can’t help but wonder, are you walking alone? Is there a tapping on your shoulder? We invite you to experience community on a whole different level. Check it out. We think you’ll like it.