Have you ever wondered where you belong? Looked for a place to fit in? Felt all alone right in the middle of all your people?
It’s okay. I have too. We all have.
Together matters even when we don’t feel the connections as we’d like. Home matters too because that’s where belonging begins. You’ve likely heard it before: Home is where you belong. Home is a biblical idea; God made us to be connected to specific people—our families—in a specific place—our homes.
No doubt you’ve recently found yourself in the back to school scurry at your home. You’re reorganizing your family into this year’s fall routine and trying to keep up with crockpot dinners, practice schedules, lunch money, and scheduled family nights.
Maybe you are like me and you’ve asked yourself, “Why am I doing all of this?!” on more than one overly busy day. We women do tend to take on more than can be done. At least this woman does. But I know what I’m doing matters, that my efforts might result in good for those I love, that something meaningful might take place when we are together for those planned meals, family nights or helping with homework hours. And that hope is all this mom needs to keep going. To keep getting my family together.
The word gather is used over 130 times throughout the Old and New Testaments, which means it’s not an inconsequential concept. The most common use is in reference to God gathering us, His people.
Deuteronomy 30:3 says, “God will gather you again from all the peoples…” and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”
Gathering together mirrors God’s familial relationship with His Son and with us, His children. It is therefore a very biblical practice. If gathering is something God does, and we are to imitate Him, then I want to bring my people together and make it meaningful for my King.
These lyrics speak about gathering by a river. Since the Garden of Eden, when God placed the home He made for Adam and Eve at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, rivers have been gathering places for His children.
Later in their history, God’s people lived near the Nile in Egypt and into that river Moses was placed with a prayer and hopes of deliverance. The Jordan River formed the entrance to the Promised Land and in those waters Jesus was baptized. In the foreign land of Babylon, God’s people gathered together at the river Chebar, where one day Ezekiel saw his visions of angels and a future God would unfold one day. And on the banks of the same Tigris River once enjoyed by Adam and Eve, Daniel saw a vision of a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. Life-altering moments happened near rivers of water.
Perhaps that’s why in Acts 16, Paul and his companions, recently arrived in Phillipi, went on the Sabbath “to a riverside where we were supposing there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who were assembled.”
I wondered when I read this verse, why were there no men? Why were these women not at the synagogue on the Sabbath or were they not allowed? Were they all Gentiles? And why did Paul and his friends assume this was where they could find those whose hearts were open to God?
Like Lydia and her friends who met Paul and Jesus that day, women today are often the instigators of gatherings—whether by a river, in our kitchens, or even at a park while our kids play.
We are also usually the leaders of gatherings of family and friends around holidays and other special occasions. This desire to share life together is good because we know God is present when two or more believers gather together.
This year as you prepare for intentional time together even in the busyness of the day to day, don’t succumb to the usual stresses. Instead remember that your gathering is both a link to generations past and a foretaste of the day when God will gather all of His children to Himself for the wedding supper of the Lamb! Celebrate together both your heritage and your future!
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