By: Susanna Kozlow
In my early 20’s I moved away from home and began a life on my own in another state. I seemed to do well in an environment that was new. As I look back, I can see how quickly I found amazing women who became close friends. When I look at my life now, at 46 years old, I still have close and deep relationships with some old friends; friends I cherish. But as the years went on, I lost a few. As life made many turns, relationships and priorities changed. This is not uncommon in any woman's life.
But something pretty remarkable happens when your life is handed over to King Jesus.
Let me rewind a bit. I remember walking into a ministry and meeting tons of women. These women truly loved each other, and it was odd to me. It confused me. I wondered what these women found in each other when some had completely different walks of life. I was used to seeing circles develop inside of a church. Those circles were women who lived similar lifestyles. That seemed normal to me. Married families stuck with married families. Single families stuck with single families. Singles with singles, married with married, and widows with widows.
But what I saw in this ministry was women loving each other no matter what stage of life they were in. Older women were with younger women; married women were with single women. They didn't have a church building bringing them together. They had Jesus. They loved each other because of Jesus. They were different denominations with Jesus in the center. I found that beautiful in so many ways. So with my decision, devotion, and dedication of dying to myself and allowing Jesus to mold me as He sees fit, came a family; a tribe; a body of Christ ready to stand in the empty spaces with me. They fought on the front lines for me when I was weak and tired. They spoke life into me when my adversary told me otherwise. They truly dedicated their lives to mine and mine to theirs until our last breath on this earth. They were and are true sisters in Christ.
I was recently reminded of this as I tackled going back to work. I knew it was going to take some sacrifice handling a household, a ministry, and my children who depend on me. I had to go back to work four weeks before school was scheduled to open, and I knew my kids needed to be taken care of in those weeks. How would I tackle this? As I lifted up all my worries and cares to my Heavenly Father, I knew He would handle it all, I just didn't know how. What happened next is what truly swelled my heart. One of these women, a sister in Christ with four kids of her own, called me and asked if she could take my kids for a week. She offered to pick them up and drop them off at the end of the day. And the following week, another women stepped in and offered to be the bridge in the gap that was ever so evident.
I have had so many instances in the last seven years where God has proven to me that He gave me a family. He's given me sisters in Christ, and we lock arms for a greater purpose – God's purpose.
This is WHY God wants us in community, and why you begin to have a tribe that always stands in the gap. It's for no other reason but to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
So maybe you've heard the terms "community, Body of Christ, tribe, sisters in Christ." If you have followed Jesus for any amount of time, you're likely familiar with them, or you are experiencing it in one form or another.
The truth is, we need each other. We need to trust, rely, and depend on one another. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another on in love. We are to carry each other’s burdens, care for each other’s practical needs, warn each other of sin, and rejoice with each other in the goodness of our Heavenly Father. God desires us in each other's lives, and, quite frankly, we can’t truly make disciples if we are not involved. Let’s look back at the early church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 NIV
And Solomon's words:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV
God has designed His people to function with others. You will find quite a bit of scripture on community in His Holy Word. God never intended for us to go at life alone. What a beautiful GIFT this is!
As I look back at what God has done in my personal life, my tribe has always been there. From late night prayers in my home, to coming over with dinner just to lessen my load, to hours of hearing my heart and picking up my tears, and to recently stepping in to guide my children so they see the goodness and love of God in their lives, they've always been there no matter the sacrifice. My tribe consists of married women with and without children, young and old, single and retired. They're from all faucets of life with one thing in common – the love of Jesus Christ and the drive to fulfill His Kingdom work.
Friend, look around you. Do you have a tribe? Do you have sisters in Christ? When things get a bit heavy, who are you asking to stand on the front lines for you? If you need help, who are you asking to step in? If you are alone, ask yourself why. Is there a study you've been thinking of joining? Do you keep saying no to that woman who wants your time? Because I can guarantee God has given you a tribe. Whether you see them or not, they are there.
May your Creator, your Heavenly Father, show you today who those women are.
"We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purposes by ourselves." -Rick Warren