Most would say this is something that they want. Among friends and church goers, it is often voiced as a top priority in the realm of desires.
For the past year, our family of five has been living in community. We have learned much about the LORD and about ourselves in this style of living. It is good. It is challenging. It is sanctifying. It makes me love Jesus so much more.
When we stepped onto the ground in Kona, Hawaii almost one year ago, this life of living in true community truly began. We got a small taste of it months before while living with my sweet Grandmother. But I will say that true community, "a group of people living in the same place", started on the campus of The University of the Nations.
At first, it was a bit of a challenge. I learned fairly quickly that I am prone to discipline my children out of fear. My own, and fear that I try to impart to them. The room that we were living in did not have windows that could be closed. So, everyone could hear everything that was going on in our room. EVERYthing. In turn, we could hear everything that was going on outside our room.
Beautifully, the LORD had us in a school that would teach us how to get rid of strongholds. How to recognize them and then make sure that they no longer existed. Blocking all obstacles that get in the way of our relationship with Jesus. I was surprised to find so many obstacles blocking the path of my gaze toward my Savior!
I learned that I had obstacles like fear, pride, anger, and worthlessness that were getting in the way of me truly seeing Jesus clearly. I had to deal with those feelings/wounds before I could clearly focus on my Lord.
You might be asking yourself, "Why on earth is she talking about this in relation to community??" I will attempt to tell you!
Holding onto strongholds can keep people from living in full community. It is an action from the enemy that keeps sin in the dark and believers from living a life truly known.
There are times when people think it would be fun or adventurous to have someone live with them. ESPECIALLY, if it happened to be a young single girl and you happen to have three young children. (*smile*) BUT, often the fear of being truly known overshadows that desire and it is never brought to fruition.
Do you understand what I am saying?
I have had conversations like this, "How can you have someone living with you? I mean, can you and David have a real argument while someone is living with you?" "What if this person sees what you do all day? What if they think that you are too busy or too lazy?" "What if this person sees the sin in your life?" "What if this person takes advantage of your family?"
I will say that a few years back, I would have had these same questions. Then Jesus freed me from those thoughts. I will also be honest and say that living in community has strengthened my marriage. See, I have a tendency to hurt my husband with my words and tone. Having someone live within our home has sanctified a bit more of that area of my heart. I know that if I have self control when someone is around, and I am talking 5 months to a year or longer, then I can have self control with the way I speak to the man I love for the rest my days. I can. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I will.
The Lord has also used this time in my parenting. Real people see how I mother these three children. Discipline is real in our home. It isn't always fun, but it is there and it is real. I am inconsistent at times. Sometimes I call out the wrong kid and blame him/her for something that someone else (often that someone is ME) did. I have to apologize to my children many times. I get lazy with them. I am not a perfect mother.
Truth be told, I don't know a perfect mother and it is time we all stop trying to be her.
Seriously, stop looking for her.
See, when we get over ourselves, we are free to live for Jesus and Him alone. If I look to Him for my worth, I am free to have anyone come into my home and I am freed up to be hospitable as Jesus was hospitable. I no longer fear that I will be found in sin, in fact I would desire that the sin that is seen in me be brought to light because I know what that freedom is like. And I want more of it.
One of our family's dearest friends has been staying with us since the first week of October. We met David Watson on January 1st of this year. He was in our class during training for three months, and was on the same team with us in Israel. In Hawaii, he and his roommates lived in the room below our family. David W worked alongside my David and basically spent over 8 hours a day together. We really got to know each other.
We have had the joy and privilege of having David in our home for the past two months. We have lived life together. We have worshiped, prayed, shared many meals, cleaned, chased children, laughed, shared Jesus with others, and walked about a thousand miles together. He is forever a part of our family and we are so thankful for him.
We could have missed this opportunity though. If we had not cleared all of those obstacles out of the way, the abundant life that Jesus promised me in His word would not have seemed so abundant with another person living in our home. Another person stepping in to see who we really are, and what we are really like.
Why do I say these things? Well, I think because I just truly love Jesus and I truly love His people. I long to see others freed up from the junk the enemy has built up around their heart. I long to see others experience true community. The kind that goes beyond church on the weekends or maybe the casual sprinkling of homegroup/Sunday school too.
There is so much to offer when we get over ourselves!! Are you single? Ask a married couple that you know, trust and respect if you might come and live in their home for a while. Are you married? Consider inviting a single person to come in and see how you do life. If this seems frightening to you, I would encourage you to write down five words that express WHY this is intimidating. Ask the Lord for wisdom, and seek counsel to get rid of those strongholds.
We were recently asked if having someone in our home, living in community for the past year has been draining or life giving. I can honestly say, the night before our friend David leaves to go home to the US, that it has been life giving. Jesus has been glorified in this time. We have seen a glimpse of Him in David that we would have missed out on if we didn't take the opportunity to invite him in. It has been a joy, and David's presence in our home will surely be missed.
Community. It is a good thing. It is challenging thing. It is a sanctifying thing. If you allow it, it can grow your love for Jesus so much.