On the Side: August 2019
Members of the Body
By Sharon Chatwell
By now, some of you have just finished your first month in a new job, which also may have meant a new home and a new city.
I empathize. My husband and I moved 3 times in 6 years in between med school and career. Each location seemed more remote and further away from family than the last. Finally, we reached the exotic location where we would live for the next 30 years; Lincoln, Nebraska. When we got here, we told our real estate agent that she was our best friend in town. (She was the ONLY person we knew in town!)
It can seem hard, I know. Scratch that! It IS hard. But, just wait! Our God says: For who has despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10 (NASB) God talks of “sowing seeds” and “reaping harvests.” We must remember that seeds are very small things and can take a long time to bring in the harvest. We must be patient and watch to see what God is doing in us and through us in our new surroundings.
Often, in our rush to have all things now, we forget that in God’s economy we may only be in the seed stage, or perhaps even in the “watering” stage.
Speaking of seeds, I have tomato plants growing by the driveway. It was so cold for so long this spring that we were weeks late getting them in the ground. Now it’s a race between the Better Boys and the first frost to see if those little green tomatoes will get to turn red on the vine. It seems odd to be talking of a frost when it is 90 degrees out but, believe me, it’s coming! (I may still live too far north!)
I remember, after one particularly difficult move, I was praying and crying out to the Lord. “I know you didn’t bring me out in the Wilderness to die!” This was in reference to Exodus 14:11 (NASB)“Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?The people of Israel were grumbling against Moses (and God, of course) saying that he had led them out of Egypt just to let them die in the Wilderness.
But when I said this out loud, I started laughing at myself, because I realized that I had referred to Nebraska as “the Wilderness.” Flyover country, maybe; the Middle of Nowhere, doubtless; but Wilderness, it is not.
Maybe you’ve heard our new tourism slogan, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”
Anyway, I remember telling God that I needed my Side By Side friend, Robin, “Here, now!” I promise you that she called me shortly after that and told me she was coming to visit. She was there within a week. (That’s the power of God!)
Christian fellowship like we find in Side By Side is the way for us to get through those hard times. There is no real substitute for face-to-face meetings and praying with each other. God created Christians to be part of a body; not a dismembered body scattered across the world, but a living breathing community of Believers.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans12:4-5 (NASB)
God has also given us different gifts to benefit the body and to help accomplish His will for us; the things that He has prepared for us to do. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
When my friend, Robin, showed up at my house, she walked through it with me on a tour. She noted the lovely underlying architecture (good bones) as well as the out-of-date decorating; left behind by a string of owners over 100 years. At last we stood silently considering the dining room. “Sharon,” she said, “Can we take down these drapes? And I mean, right now?” The “yes” that came from my lips needed no prompting. We had the things down off the walls in a matter of minutes. The room looked better already! And I found that I had a new energy for the daunting task of renovating this big old house. God had answered my prayers again.
Friends, like the ones you make in Side By Side, can be lifelong friends. They are other members in Christ’s body. They rejoice with you and mourn with you, during life’s ups and downs. Thank God for them!
Other Side By Side friends also still keep in touch. It just so happens that one of them dropped by my house the other day with her husband. They were on their way from one location to another, having accepted a new practice opportunity. (I was surprised to learn that even when you live in the Middle of Nowhere, you can still be on the recommended route between two actual locations.)
My husband and I were glad to see them, and we had a few hours together to catch up and to encourage each other. We hope we did our part in helping them face the challenges that will be theirs tomorrow, because we know that they did so for us.
Sharon is a physician spouse living in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska. She invites you to drop by, if you ever find yourself in the Middle of Nowhere. And she reminds you that no matter where you live, you are an important part of the Body of Christ!