Life in Community

by Perry Johns

One of my favorite parts of the Old Testament is the account of God leading the Israelites out of slavery under the Egyptians into the freedom of the Promised Land. These stories are full of amazing miracles and evidences of God’s faithfulness to His chosen people. When reading the chapters, however, I often find myself getting frustrated with the Israelites. God split the Red Sea, brought water from a rock, and sent bread down from Heaven, yet they complain every other chapter about how sad they are and continually ask Moses if they can go back to Egypt. God reveals His character in frustratingly obvious ways to these people, yet they don’t see His goodness, His mercy, His provision.

Then the story comes to Deuteronomy. This book is Moses’s last hurrah; here, he gives final instructions to the Israelites as they prepare to go into the Promised Land. Yes, he talks a lot about commandments and rules, but more importantly, he talks at length about God.  Moses reminds the Israelites of who God is. He tells them that the Lord is God (Deut. 4:35), that God loves and specifically chose His people (Deut. 7:7-8), that He defends the fatherless (Deut. 10:18) – the list goes on. He goes back and accounts the many miraculous ways God provided for them in the desert. Essentially, Moses tells his people over and over again who God is and what He has done for them.

This is the heart of community to me. It is really hard to put into words how much the girls in my small groups have shaped my life over the past four years. While the larger community at FCM is a special blessing in its own right, I have found the relationships and conversations that come from small group Bible studies have uniquely impacted my walk with the Lord.

Because, as much as the Israelites frustrate me, I do the exact same thing. The Lord has saved me from a meaningless life enslaved to my sin and selfishness. Not only that, He continues to provide daily mercies to me. Yet I miss it. I don’t see how God is giving me grace after grace every day. I forget, or subconsciously minimize, the depth of His rescue of me. I insult His sacrifice by wanting to go back to my own personal Egypt, where life was easier, and I could make decisions solely based on my interests.  

 By His incredible grace, the Lord has given me many Moses’s to remind me the truth of who He is and the miraculous work He has done for me. There have been so many times when I can’t see God clearly because of my emotions or circumstances or pride clouding my vision. I need the girls in my small group, who know me and my life so well, to explain to me what I cannot see. When I am discouraged or confused about life events, such as a global pandemic, I need people who will remind me of the extraordinary faithfulness of our God – “look what He has done, imagine what He will do.” I need people to help me filter my life through the lenses of scripture and align my feelings with what God says is true. My small groups have been vital for this. Our meetings have been filled with snacks, venting, and laughs, but I also know that is when I will most clearly see the Lord. I love and miss all of you! And to the Wednesday nights at 8:00 girls, I am especially grateful for you all today.