With my high school reunion right around the corner, memories of those days flood back. The good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s clarify, there was a lot of good, always involving friendships. There were a few bad, usually involving study habits, or the lack thereof. Then comes the ugly, usually involving the hair styles of the day I was determined to try.
But as I think back to those days, the one thing that stands out was the longing to belong. We each came into that school searching for that place to fit. Though we all dreamed of the independence we would one day experience, we knew this was a time we would need our “crowd” for support. We needed our people to stand close in both the celebrations and the struggles. We needed to surround ourselves with people who had a common denominator. (Oh that math teacher would be so proud!)
Things haven’t really changed much since then. If we look back in history, we recognize we have always needed to stand together. Unity in searching for truth and love has always been a catalyst for crowds.
Mark 3: 7-8
“Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him.”
I imagine the people of all these different areas had stood in other crowds looking for answers. Hoping for rescue. Maybe their physical needs were different, but they had a common denominator. This crowd leaned in, shoulder to shoulder searching for a glimmer of hope. They heard the stories told of this healer of hearts and body and they were drawn to this place by the promise.
Haven’t we all stood in crowds hoping? I have been drawn to many different crowds looking for that person, place or thing to fulfill my longing. Not even completely clear on what I was longing for. I just knew there was something more. There had to be.
Can you identify? Let’s see if any of these sound familiar. I stood in crowds that believed a man’s love could fill that place.. I stood in crowds that believed wealth could fill that place. I stood in crowd after crowd, leaning in, searching for the missing piece to fill that place. I stayed this path until the day a beautiful friend invited me into a new crowd…one that pressed in close to the One who offers the perfect peace. This new crowd stood with me and helped me to find the truth that finally silenced the lies that whispered for years and years that I was not lovable. In this journey I found what I had always been longing for, that thing that fills the empty places.
The missing piece was missing the peace of knowing the love of Jesus Christ.
It’s a new day. I stand here with healed heart all because someone loved me enough to invite me into this crowd. Their crowd. And believe me when I say I didn’t fit. It was messy and complicated and hard. And lovely, and gracefilled, and soulfilling. And I will forever live thankful for this crowd that followed so close to the Jesus they love, there was no other choice but to welcome me into His open arms.
Thank you for inviting me into the crowd that presses in close to you. Help me to always remember what is was like standing in those other crowds, wondering and wandering. Help me to always be the one with eyes wide open…heart wide open…willing spirit to invite others into this crowd that stands expectantly at your feet because of the love you have lavished on us. Don’t let me walk by without reaching out to grasp a hand and pull a pleading, bleeding heart into your embrace. Because you loved me…I pray I am never too distracted to tell everyone who you are and how you continue to transform my heart every single day. Let my love shine into a world longing for your healing touch. Help me to stand so close to you that people will ask me to introduce you today and every tomorrow. Amen