In July 2022, on a Tuesday evening, an eclectic group of seven gathered in the Philadelphia airport to fly to the Worship God conference in Louisville, Kentucky. We ranged in age from teens to 60s, and though we all knew each other from church, most of us hadn’t interacted much, beyond a passing conversation once or twice. By all appearances, we were an odd group, a random assortment of people who just happened to be available to travel together that day. I expected no more than four or five hours of polite airport socialization and a quiet plane ride: I already had other people in mind with whom I planned to spend most of my time, once I arrived at the conference.
I’m grateful that God had other plans. Doesn’t he so often take our paltry expectations and cast them aside to make room for something much greater?
Through a turn of events that left us feeling a little crazy, our flight was delayed, then canceled—and eventually it became clear that our best option was to rent a car from the airport and drive to Kentucky for more than ten hours through the night. I don’t have space to tell the full story here (come find me at church if you want to hear more!), but by the time we arrived in Louisville, my respect for each of the six others had skyrocketed, and they were already impossibly precious to me. We had sought and received the Lord’s provision together, we had each sacrificed comfort for the good of the group, and we had cared for one another with joy through what seemed like an insane situation. This is my family, and I just didn’t know it, I remember thinking.
Throughout the rest of the week, the seven of us found ourselves deep in fellowship at a level of vulnerability that would have been difficult to reach without our midnight adventure. I was struck with the reality that I would never have assembled this specific group and expected anything to happen, based on the differences in our personalities and walks of life, but God knew how much we would end up loving and blessing one another during this time. What an undeserved gift! In a way, it seemed like a small picture of the church at large: an unlikely mix of saved sinners who are built together by the Lord himself into a living house, both for his glory and our joy. Nobody else could do it but him.
I came home from the conference to find out that my community group—which for several years had been a wonderfully consistent source of spiritual life for me—was about to go through a significant rearrangement. My first impulse was to fear and mourn the coming changes. How could I go on without this faithful community I’d come to love so dearly?
Then it hit me: my God doesn’t change. The whole world might shift around me, but he remains unmoved. All the tender care and abundant grace that I’d just witnessed him pouring out—I could still expect that, and more! He is the same God who sustained his people in the wilderness and became their dwelling place, the same God who raised up his church with power and zeal when Christ’s work on the cross was finished, the same God who sovereignly, kindly, put seven random people in a car for ten hours because he knew it would bless and strengthen us all. How, then, could I not trust him for this new season?
Living in community can be hard work. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that! But it is God himself who builds it for us and gives it to us as a gift. Sisters, let’s take comfort in this truth—then step out boldly to love the people whom God has placed around us. They are a gift to us: let’s treat them like it!