Side by Side

Side By Side
Carol Hensel
New house, new town, new job, … new church. It can feel rather overwhelming and lonely.
Imagine stepping foot in a brand-new church and, 2 hours later, having been greeted by eight individuals. Eight Christians took an interest in you, the newcomer. They welcomed you, asked for your name, and indicated a desire to get to know you. Phew!

To be seen, noticed, valued – how crucial. You will remember the biblical sermon you heard, the solid teaching at that church, and in addition, you will cherish the handshakes, the smiles, the ‘Welcome’!  

New burdens, old wounds, lingering fears, … never-ending needs. It can feel overwhelming and lonely.

Imagine stepping foot in a friend’s living room and, 2 hours later, leaving refreshed and encouraged.

A dear friend cared about you, you and your needs. She listened to you, cried with you, and prayed for you. Phew!

To be seen, noticed, valued – how crucial! You will remember the welcoming hospitality, the refreshing drink, most of all, you will cherish the love, the care, the prayer!
At times, we are the ones stepping foot in the new church, the needy ones who long to be welcomed.

Oftentimes, we are the ones who carry burdens and long for the care of a friend. We are the needy ones.

An uncomfortable reality, but a reality nonetheless. Who gladly embraces neediness, frailty, and weakness?
We are needy, but we are also needed.

We need to be one of the eight who welcomes, who befriends, who cares. We need to be the friend who welcomes, who listens, who prays.

Reflect with me. How am I at quickly reaching the newcomer who is about to get into his car? Potentially missing out on coffee and donuts, and time with a close friend.

Do I remember the names of the kids on the church playground? Or of the returning visitor?
Will my friend know that her burden will become mine if she opens up to me? Can she count on my compassion during trouble, and my desperate and truth-filled prayer on her behalf?
And, will she know that I am just as needy? I need to hear her pray for me; I need her reminders of God’s promises and character.

God designed for us to walk side by side because we are all needy and needed.

That is the idea that the women want to dive into and grow in over the summer. In small groups, we want to read the book by Edward Welch entitled ‘Side By Side – Walking in Wisdom and Love’. So much to learn, but how exciting to envision the impact of growing in this area!

Not convinced this is for you? Read the intro by Lydia Brownback to the study guide of Welch’s book. On page 4 of her notes (Crossway, 2015), she writes:

“’We all need help—that’s simply part of being human.’ 

So writes Edward T. Welch, author of Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love. It’s relatively easy to ask for or offer help when it comes to action, to things like unloading a moving truck or cooking a meal. But when it comes to soul help, we struggle. It’s awkward to ask for help, and it’s hard to know how to move into the personal space of another. But God designed us for togetherness. We aren’t meant to go through life’s difficulties all alone.

The problem is, we want others to think we’ve got our act together. We don’t want to come off as needy. For most of us, it’s much easier to be the one helping than the one in need of help! That’s because being needy is a sign of weakness. What we fail to realize is that neediness is a valuable asset. In reality, anything that reminds us of our dependence on God and on other people is a good thing. We need help, and we need to help others, and God has made provision for both.
God has designed us to walk side by side as an interdependent body of weak people. God grows and changes us through the help of others he is growing and changing—those who, like us, have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. That is how life in the church works.”
Ladies, join a group and choose to grow with us!

(Books will be available and groups will be formed at the June 16th women’s meeting.)
For the Women’s Ministry – Carol Hensel

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