For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

As I sit down to write for the first time since entering into this new season of life, this scripture came to mind.

This season that began with stepping off of the dirt roads of Haiti and into a big city in the US has been a drastic change for me and frankly, caught me off guard. I’m sure it has seemed to many of my friends and family (especially those that typically keep up with me online) that I have simply disappeared. My Facebook has been turned off for 2 ½ months. I haven’t posted anything on my blog in 4 months. I have a new phone number and am living in a completely new city and state that I haven’t disclosed publicly.

While I admit that part of the reason for these measures has been my personal safety (due to an unfortunate and scary experience), I also believe that stepping away from the public eye has been healing for me and has created an environment of peace and quiet to allow me to hear the Lord speak as I create a new life that reflects what He’s asking of me. In this new season, I’ve been given this blank slate of life… a new state, a new city… a new church with new friends… no job, no strings attached… and I continue to hear the Lord say to me, “I’m making all things new.”
(Revelation 21:5)

This time has been absolutely overwhelming and frightening. It’s been a time when I am learning more and more of the contrast between my sinfulness and the Lord’s holiness. I have been on my face before Him countless times as He shows me my depravity – how wicked my heart is – and how much I need Him.

Although I can’t yet mention where I am, it is by no coincidence that I ended up living here. I knew while living in Haiti that when my time there was finished, I wanted to live in a completely new place. I wasn’t exactly sure at the time, however, where that would be, nor was I aware of the ways in which God would use this new place as a reflection of and component in making “all things new.”

in my life is new… including me.

While this “newness of life” seems to be a central theme of this season of my life, another theme that continues to come to mind is “community.”
Therefore, it is also by no coincidence that when God planted me in this new place, He immediately surrounded me by a community so in love with Jesus that I instantly felt like I belonged. It was like He had formed this perfect family ahead of time for me and plopped me down here and said, “Here you go. Meet your family.”

My boyfriend… my pastors… my church family… the friends I met through my boyfriend and his ministry… have all come together to create this family – this community – that has become an essential part of this newness of life. It is through this community that I have been given the eyes to see Jesus – the lover and perfecter of my heart – more clearly.

As I lay down my heart before the Lord and ask Him to make me new, He has had to – as I mentioned before – show me the stark contrast between my sinfulness and His holiness. While in Haiti, I went through a season of learning to experience His presence. This season often led to adventures (I sometimes wrote about, such as in “Life as a Movie”) of seeking quiet time away just to read His word, pray, or listen in prayer. Once, His presence even came in the form of an overwhelming, powerful vision that brought me to my knees and left me in tears simply in response to the power of His presence. But in such a place of isolation, without a church, without a pastor, and without a community of other believers pouring into my life, I now realize that I was limited in how much I could see God’s character, sovereignty, and holiness. I needed to experience that season and am so thankful for those precious times that the Lord spoke to me while I sat in the middle of a field or on the beach or rooftop.
But now I know that He’s leading me into deeper places.

My pastor quoted C.S. Lewis this Sunday from Lewis’ book, “The Four Loves.” Lewis writes of his two friends, Charles and Ronald, and how Charles had passed away. After Charles’ passing, Lewis may have thought that he would have had more of Ronald. (Afterall, he now had him to himself, right?) However, the opposite was true, because there were parts of Ronald that only Charles could bring out.

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…

This concept applies so perfectly to the way that we see and experience God.

He goes on to say,

In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”

Lewis was able to put into words what I have been experiencing the past couple of months but unable to verbalize (leave it to a famous author, right?). Each Tuesday as I meet with my women’s small group, each Thursday, as I sit among men and women in my gospel community group, or each time my boyfriend and I have an intimate conversation about the Lord, I experience more of God as I see how He is working in the lives of all the other believers around me.

One might think that I have more of God when I am alone, sitting on a rooftop, or on my bed behind closed doors. The opposite, however, is true. I have more of God when I am surrounded by others who love Him and whose lives He is sanctifying.

Just last night, I spent a few hours at a girlfriend’s house simply talking. As we both shared how God is working in our lives, our current struggles and heartaches, there were several moments when one of us would share and the other would say something like, “Wow… you too?!” This reminds me of another C.S. Lewis quote and the beauty in how the Lord allows us to share and carry each other’s burdens in friendship.

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

True community gives opportunity to “walk in the light,” or bring our sin out into the open, while walking alongside people who will encourage us as we confess, repent and turn to Jesus.
In sharing our hearts, we not only see more of God in the ways that He is sanctifying the other person, but He uses the friendships to convict us of our sin, give us new ways of seeing things, remind us of Biblical truths, and carry each other’s burdens.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
– 1 John 1:7

In my new life, while I am still an unemployed (and very broke) missionary, I have been given the gift of time to truly plug in to community and reap its benefits as the Lord teaches me more and more of how much I need Him. It’s so comforting to know that during these seasons of growth, when it feels as if my heart is on fire and I’m dependent on Him for every single breath, He has equipped me with a family that allows me to see and experience more of Him – which is all that I need to become whole and healed and new.

{{The Bible is full of references to community and the role we play in each other’s lives.}}

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

– Hebrews 10:24-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

– 1 Peter 1:22

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

– 1 John 4:12

2 responses »

  1. Joel Weber says:

    Always a pleasure to read how God is working in your life. All the best.

  2. Jessica Lenderman says:

    Always enjoy your posts! Would love to hear from you!

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