Get Connected

Your life can change in a moment. It only takes one phone call or one doctors visit and your life will never be the same again.

Sometimes it’s good news. You get a job offer. I’ve had a few of those coming by phone. Even after I retired I got a couple of job offers. But thankfully, they have stopped coming these days!

That call could be an unexpected expression of love or maybe the birth of a child. But the ones we remember the most are when it’s a crisis. The doctor calls, and it is not good news, or there was an accident, or the heartbreak of somebody who has run away, or you get a call about something that involves your children, like something that requires a trip to the police station. I can think of some phone calls I have received and will remember exactly where I was, and when it was, until the day I die.

That’s the good news! You see the truth is, one day in the future I reckon, there’s a very good chance a phone call will come for you. One day you will receive news will rock your world. It could even be today or this week or next week. And when that call comes, you will have two reactions depending on which of two conditions you’re living in.

Firstly, you could feel that there is no one to contact and tell them what’s happened because you are living mostly in isolation and mostly disconnected from other people. You’re largely on your own emotionally and relationally and spiritually. You’re not sure if there is anybody you can reach out to even if you know a lot of people.

Or secondly, you will have plenty of people to contact because you are surrounded by people who know you and love you, because you have eaten together and laughed together and cried together and played and prayed and learned and struggled and done life together. In those dark passages of life they will be the ones who hold you up as you walk through that valley. They will be the ones who help strengthen you and support you and keep you together as if by an invisible force, because community does that. In the first couple of weeks after I came out of hospital recently, we had over 50 people come to visit us. Some brought meals. Some brought a word of encouragement. But all those people are my community.

In the Bible, the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes contrasted the strength of people living in relationship with the fragility and the vulnerability of people living in isolation. Ecclesiastes says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Today researchers are confirming what the writer of the bible said all that time ago. Robert Putman from Harvard University in America in his book “Health and Happiness” said that dozens of painstaking studies have established beyond reasonable doubt that social connectedness is one of the most powerful determinants of our well-being. The more we are living in community, the less likely we are to experience colds, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, depression, and premature death of all sorts. So, he says we not only feel better, we live longer. If you want to know more or don’t believe me or him, just Google “Social connectedness and happiness.”

If you let me put my Theology hat on for a moment. I believe the reason we need others so much is because the God who made us has been living in community since before the beginning of time. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three in one – intimately connected together. Don’t worry if you can’t work out how three persons can be one person – you don’t have to understand it! It is the way He describes himself.

And when he decided to make us, He made us in His image. So everyone of us has a deep need for intimacy and connectedness to others. That’s why your sex drive is as strong as it is. That’s why you need other people so much. It was designed into you!

So if you are isolating yourself, if you are finding others difficult to put up with, if you find yourself without anybody to call when you get that world changing phone call, then today is the day to make a start of fixing up your life. Even if you aren’t walking through that difficulty right now, it’s time to change because it will come! Everything will change some day and that change may take just a moment of time.

So maybe today you need to take the initiative and rebuild the relationships that are broken. Reach out and ask for forgiveness. Whatever has caused the division between you and someone else, you have had a part in the process. So it’s time for you to reach out and say you are sorry for what has happened but mostly for whatever you did. Make sure you ask for forgiveness. It may not result in relationships that are restored, but you will know you have done your best. But if it does result in restoration, then you will have made a great start on a happier life!

If that’s not your situation, then today is still the day to get out and meet some people. Today is a good day to start to build a group of people who care about you. I think the best place to start is your local church. It will be full of people just like you – people who need each other but people with all sorts of issues and problems. The perfect church, full of people with their lives all in perfect order hasn’t come yet. Every church is full of sinners and broken people no matter what image they portray! But, they still meet together regularly and support each other and try to make a difference in the world. And you can get to meet some outstandingly generous and loving people. So don’t just sit there. Ring them today and tell them you are coming on Sunday.

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