I remember when I was young, I used to drive my dad nuts with it.
Running. My dad hated my need to run. And believe me, it wasn’t my love for physical fitness that so irked him. No, no…”running,” in my dad’s terminology, meant being anywhere off of our property. Spending the night with friends, going out for dinner, shopping…you name it. If it used up gas and cost money and wasn’t in any way practical, it was useless running.
What he never saw [and still doesn’t, to be perfectly honest with you], is that it was never useless to me. He couldn’t understand the need to sit with my mom over Chinese food and have a long talk about life. He couldn’t understand the value of creating memories with friends that still have me laughing a decade later. I remember the day, shortly after my college graduation, when I called home to tell him that I was going to Italy with my best friend Dezi the next week on an impulse; not really an impulse to be honest, as we’d been dreaming about that trip together for almost four years. I think his head nearly imploded at some point during that conversation. My dad’s not one to travel to the supermarket across town on a whim, let alone to another continent.
But, as I look back, there’s not one moment of “running” that I regret. In all reality, those moments are among the most treasured in my entire life. My mom remains one of my best friends, and knows me better than most anyone. I have been blessed over time with friendships that have extended beyond the realm of friendship to being more like family. I will never forget laying in bed one late night in a hotel in Venice with Dezi, sharing some of the deepest parts of our hearts and lives, crying and laughing simultaneously in the darkness. I have spent my entire life achieving one goal with my running: to know and be known.
There is little more in life that fulfills me the way those five words do. And right now, it feels like I’m missing it. There’s a sense of community that I’ve spent the bulk of my life engaged in that is, for the bulk of things, missing from my life at this point.
It’s a daily thing, I think. There’s something so daily about this community. And I’ve never found a better written example for it than this:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. [Acts 2:42-47]
What a radical way of life. A group of people who had such a unified vision that they literally lived life together. They cared for few things, other than as objects to be bought and sold to provide for themselves and each other. They cared much for each other; they ate together, worked together, played together, served together, worshipped together. They took on life as a team, sacrificing for each other and strategizing with each other and changing the world with each other.
Not to romanticize the experience. Being that they were human, I have absolutely no doubt that within a group of people this close, there were disagreements and arguments and hurts and frustrations and conflicts. No doubt.
And yet…no description of the church, no version of the church has ever called to my heart more than this one. Than a group of people taking on a challenge as a unit; as a body. Each one of them committed and each one of them necessary to the vision of the whole.
I cannot express the ways in which my soul craves this sense of unity. This feeling of oneness and group purpose. My heart is aching right now, with a deeper longing than I’ve ever experienced for anything. And I simultaneously want it to stop for comfort’s sake, and want it to nag at me until I can’t be comfortable with anything less.
And all who believed were together…