When you walk through a storm
hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone…
One or two of you may remember that those words come from a famous anthem in the musical Carousel. I’ve even heard it sung by some church choirs, implying with whom we will walk, since we won’t walk alone.
Most people who come to church come to connect with God, in some fashion or other. There are some, I imagine, who come to connect with other people. Yet the healthiest approach to coming to church includes both: to connect with God and people. The church is, after all, defined as ‘those called out’ – a group of men and women, with their children, set apart by God as his family.
You might be thinking, You’re not telling me anything new here, Jeff. I know. Read on.
See, there are countless people who come to church week by week who, despite being part of ‘those called out’, despite being told they’ll never walk alone, do indeed walk alone. Indeed, an alarming number of people try to walk their faith journey alone.
For too long, the church subliminally taught that we could walk our faith journey alone. I don’t imagine that is what was meant by the hymn writer who made famous the line, “You in your small corner and I in mine”, but that is what many people have taken from it.
It’s sad, because it isn’t supposed to be that way. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
Consider the words of the Teacher, who wrote in Ecclesiastes 4.9-12 (NIV):
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
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.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Notice how the Teacher moves from two to three. The way I read that is that we have one another, and God, the invisible Third Party, binds us together.
Are you trying to live the Christian life alone? If so, I imagine you’re finding it very difficult, because God did not design the life of faith to be lived in constant solitude. There are times when solitude is very appropriate, but it is not the norm for most believers. We all need community, where God is present with us together.
If you’re trying to live the Christian life alone, sneaking in to church as it starts and sneaking out as it ends (or worse, not participating in corporate worship at all), do yourself a favour: join a small group (at St. Paul’s, Nobleton, we call them LifeConnect Groups). Stay for refreshments after worship. Engage with others, and engage with God on a deeper level as a result. “Doing life” together is one of the joys of our faith.