By Matt Hein
Have you ever run across an old photograph that takes you back in time? I ran across just such a picture recently and it is hard to believe that four years have passed since it was taken on Mike’s 40th birthday trip. Along with John and Mike’s brother, we spent a week canoeing and fishing the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to celebrate.
Each lake was crystal clear and full of possibility. Sunsets lit the horizon ablaze each evening and the deep night sky was filled with more stars than we could count. The call of loons, the soft sound of water gurgling with each paddle stroke, and the occasional slap of a beaver tail helped to make this trip magical.
And then there was the fishing. We caught more northern pike than we knew what to do with. We caught small ones and big ones and just kept catching more.
Our bellies were filled each evening with the day’s catch, and our conversation filled with stories of the big ones that got away and chided each other about a great many things. It was a trip I will never forget.
However, the best part of that week in the Boundary Waters was not the beautiful sunsets, the sounds on the lakes, or the incredible haul of fish. It was being back together with two great friends.
Mike and John are two men that God put on my rope. He had brought us together in relationship many years before at a significant time of life for each of us.
For three years we lived in the same community and studied at the same school. We enjoyed spending time together doing man activities. Our families loved to be together as well. We grilled together, brewed beer together, played games together, and certainly found a few times to fish together.
And we followed Jesus together. We’ve studied the Bible together, prayed for each other, shared each other’s burdens, and helped each other keep following Jesus.
Coming back across those pictures of Mike and John reminded me of how significant their presence was in my life for the three years we lived in the same community. I soaked up that week of fishing because we got to share life together again after being apart for a long time. We prayed together, laughed together, shared each other’s burdens, and again pointed each other to Jesus.
I can’t help but wonder if that is similar to what the disciples of Jesus had with Him and each other. For three years they prayed together, followed Jesus together, and shared each other’s burdens. They studied the Old Testament together and learned from Jesus what it meant to receive God’s grace and live in His kingdom.
Acts 2:42-47 paints much the same picture. Those same disciples, along with the first followers of Jesus, studied Scripture together, prayed for each other and the world, overflowed with generosity, worshiped together, served others, and did it all in relationship with God and each other.
For three years, at a significant time in our lives, Mike, John, and I (and others) had similar discipling relationships. Since then I have been blessed with discipling relationships in other locations and each time they were significant to my discipleship journey.
I need other disciples who can be on my rope, who pray with me, share my burdens, and point me to Jesus. I need other disciples with whom I can enjoy life and who can share in the grace of Jesus with me. These relationships are gifts from God.
I need other disciples who can be on my rope, who pray with me, share my burdens, and point me to Jesus.
Lately I’ve heard a lot of people across the multisite expressing a desire to have significant discipling relationships. That’s why I’m excited for the opportunities coming this fall that will begin to bring to begin a fresh experience of following Jesus in trusted relationships. Whether it is part of a Taking Worship Home small group, a Sunday morning table group, or even a relationship triad later in the year, God will be opening up new opportunities for community centered on the Good News of Jesus.
…God will be opening up new opportunities for community centered on the Good News of Jesus.
I’m thankful for my friends, Mike and John. Seeing the pictures of our fishing trip again reminded me of how important trusted discipling relationships are. I can’t wait to begin experiencing that in a fresh, new way at St. Luke and I hope you are ready to join me.