Today, March 10th, begins the 20 day window of reconciliation for community. If this is a new concept to you, you can catch up in the Spiritual Warfare section of Articles on our website.
As I have pondered what strategy our corporate team should use this year, several things emerged. I share them with you not as a template to be followed, but as a set of concepts that might stir up some original applications in your own world.
The word carries some negative overtones in our culture. In other words, we assume a breach in relationship whenever we hear that reconciliation is needed. I am of the opinion that these four windows are not necessarily about soul searching and finding the last few unforgiven issues to be dealt with. I believe the windows carry great grace for moving into higher positive numbers.
As we look at the issue of community in the next 20 days, we will be especially alert for those areas where community is working well so we can celebrate the beauty of different forms and flavors of people in right alignment with each other.
God is an extraordinary Scrabble player. Watching Him take a really odd personality and place them in a community where they can absolutely shine is cause for worship — but we have to see it first, which means our whole team will be actively looking for those kinds of stories.
Scripture is full of admonitions to remember. As with most Hebrew words, there are many shades of meaning. One of them is to reminisce verbally. The picture is of a group of people talking through a favorite memory and savoring it again, articulating the special parts of the story.
We are of the opinion that this exercise is commanded not simply because God is concerned about our data retrieval skills but because something happens in our souls and in the spiritual realm when we lean into the sweet spots of our life’s story.
So for the next 20 days, our team is going to take turns around the lunch table sharing vignettes never before celebrated with that group. We will savor collectively the beauty of God’s gift of vibrant community so that all of us can come into agreement with the greatness of His generosity towards us in terms of good community.
One of the things I feel God said to me about this window is that He will be taking the initiative to enrich our ties within community. That means it is our responsibility is to be alert and not miss the clues He sends our way.
Now THAT is a challenge. There are a few of you out there who are rather isolated and you are finding some sense of community just reading these words on a screen, sent out to the world at large.
The reality is that most of us have triple the people in our lives that we can reasonably relate to. Thus, we have developed some finely honed skills for connecting with most people as superficially as possible to pretend we have connection without really connecting.
I did that with Steve today. He is the early morning clerk at the grocery store, and I am one of his regular early morning customers. Today I bipped in to grab some milk, butter, yogurt and tapioca pudding. We exchanged a couple of superficial comments that made each other smile.
I am probably one of his favorite customers because I engage him as a person, but in reality, our relationship is about a three on a scale of 1 to 100. And I have a bucket full of people like Steve who I acknowledge regularly, but don’t really do community with.
And then there are the e-mails. Almost daily I get an e-mail from someone wanting to buy a download instead of a CD. I go into mechanical mode and explain that if they click on the Store button they will find all the downloads. There is simply no attempt to engage them as humans. Call it a one on a scale of 1 to 100.
And between the ones and the close inner circle are people at every level of relationship with me, reasonably well pigeon holed. I saw Jim’s name pop up in the inbox today and my mind immediately categorized him: Servant (or is he Teacher?), Canadian, earned authority over premature death, low maintenance, passion for birds, can see beauty in nature, has family history with land in his city, writes a focused e-mail that will be easy to read and respond to.
Even though Jim is tagged with a bucket full of positive tags in my archives, there is still a predictability that wars against my going deeper. He probably has a new thought for me. It will probably be good. I will acknowledge it and use it and go on to the next e-mail.
In the midst of this relentless over-exposure to people, the King will be actively at work in this season. He will take the initiative to reposition a one or a three or a seventy-two in a slightly different posture to see if I will recognize an opportunity to actually engage, not just do a fly by.
Without a doubt, I will miss a lot of the pitches He sends my way, but fortunately for me, He has vast endurance when it comes to pitching batting practice, and by the end of the 20 days, my community will be stronger, richer and fuller because He crafted some wonderful connecting points I had not seen before, and made it easy for me.
If I recognize them.
I have an active prayer life, led by the God of the Universe. I usually only have two or maybe three things on my regular list, but the Holy Spirit regularly directs me to pray for some of you for a few days at a time, until something shifts. He stacks the deck in favor of success by telling me what you need at that moment, or what He needs me to pray out of the way or into place before you get to wherever you are going.
Most of the time I do it without comment.
I think in this window I will drop a note to a few of you and let you know what the King has put on my plate about you. I wrote someone yesterday who I only have contact with three or four times a year, but what God had me praying was exactly what they needed, and it encouraged them to keep on going though a difficult time.
So that is how I am approaching this season. Since there is grace to upgrade my community, I am leaning into it.
I encourage you to mull over what works for you and craft your own strategy to benefit from the available grace.
Copyright March 2013 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub, in Anaheim