The feeling of “belonging” is vital to the soul and essential for true community. Everybody wants to feel like they belong. This truth reminds me of the theme song from the sitcom Cheers: “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got; Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.”
Do you feel like you belong? This adventure, called “life,” is a difficult climb. It’s too dangerous to do alone. While on sabbatical in Steamboat Springs, my family and I have experienced our own set of difficulties. My wife has really struggled with the physical pain of her Crohn’s Disease. It has been hard to watch her suffer. While it has been a sweet time to “be there” for the woman I love, it has been a roller coaster of emotions that have been off the chart for me. I couldn’t imagine Rebecca surviving alone. I need her and she needs me. It has also been hard for us to be away from our community.
We miss our community in Fort Collins. It’s difficult to be away from the family, friends and neighbors we love. It’s hard to be away from the church we love. Fortunately, we have made some new friends here in Steamboat. One of them is Josh, owner of Twisted Trails Running Company.
For me, I have enjoyed the community that has come from running with Josh on Thursdays and Saturdays. Here is a picture of Josh after the Twisted Trails Thursday Night Beer Run. We run approximately three to six miles on beautiful trails. Then after the run we enjoy conversation and community while enjoying a beer or ginger ale. Josh is an Iraq War veteran and a very welcoming person. Can you find my new shoes in this picture? Without Josh, my shoes would not be in this picture. He did a video analysis on my gait, getting me in the correct shoe to prevent injury. But more importantly, he makes me feel like I belong. To experience community one must feel that they belong.
My eight year old son, Paul, has been joining me on each of these runs. He has worked his way up to running six miles without stopping. He enjoys running and spending time with his dad. He is now a better runner than me. People always compliment him on looking and running like “a runner.” That makes me happy. In fact, on the Coffee Run, he completely roasted me on the trail. He ran six miles with ease. Spending this time, running with my boy, gives him and me a regular opportunity to bond as father and son. We feel the bond of being together in community.
My family and I have also enjoyed going to church together here in Steamboat. We miss our church and friends in Fort Collins, so it has been a blessing to make some new “friends away from friends”, in our new “home away from home”. For me personally, it has been vital to have some men with whom I can talk man to man, as well as enjoy the adventure of the outdoors together. Byron and Dustin have been great friends to me. Just being in their presence fills me, and helps me to feel encouraged during the challenging times I have experienced over the past month. I love the times we have spent encouraging one another in the Lord, as well as having a blast mountain biking, fishing, or just having a meal together!
Thankfully, Rebecca is now feeling much better thanks to prayer and God’s gracious and healing touch. She is my best friend (even though it is odd God chose us for each other being that she does not share my love for risk and adventure… as my kids say: “Dad is for adventure, and Mom is for safety”). We are finally being able to go on walks together and spend quality time with one another. I belong to her and she belongs to me.
Do you feel like you belong to someone? Do you make others feel like they belong?
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT)
More essentially, do you feel like you belong to God? Would you like to belong to God?
But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)
Check out the “gospel” tab on my adventurepastor.com home page to learn more of how you can belong to God as His child.
On this Independence Day, as we gather with the people we love and the people who love us, let’s celebrate the interdependence of community. Interdependence is defined as dependence between persons or things and is essential for true community.
Here’s to belonging!!