Can you believe it?
Our world has weathered almost one year of COVID-19, masks, Zoom calls, curbside service, and social distancing. And overall, we’ve all done our best to adapt! But – there’s one thing we shouldn’t adapt to:
We weren’t made to permanently live in isolation. We were created for community, to freely dwell with God and people in a life-giving garden of abundance and paradise. And while we no longer live in Eden, our purpose and image-bearing mission (“What Is My Purpose?“) still remain!
So, how can we still grow life-giving relationships when we’re all supposed to stay so far apart (six feet to be exact) from one another?
Let’s take a look at God’s relationship with us. He took the dust from the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. Then, He called man to steward the life around him.
“…the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden…and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”Genesis 2:7-8
Just as God breathed life into us, we are called to breathe life into others.
What does it mean to “breathe life?”
Imagine what the Garden of Eden must have looked like. Life is fruitful, multiplies, and leads to abundance. It seeks light and creates beauty. It is strongly rooted, grows in stages, and strengthens through resistance.
A life-giving relationship is firmly rooted in the Lord (the Author of life). It deepens its roots by daily inhaling His Spirit, and absorbing His light. Once our relationship with Him is grounded and growing – then we can multiply that life into the people around us.
We can’t cultivate life-giving relationships with others until our first relationship with God is alive and growing.
Our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors (and even strangers standing six feet apart from us in line) are all within our range of influence and impact. We can either choose to exhale our own feelings and frustrations onto them which depend on how we feel in the moment – or we can choose to bear the image of God and reflect all the facets of His character.
What is the enemy to life-giving relationships?
We’ve all seen news footage of tornados and earthquakes, or maybe even experienced it ourselves. Destruction is reckless and thoughtless. It leaves a path of jagged pieces, exposed roots, and demolished hope. Or, destruction can also stem from neglect and abandonment, leading to rot and decay.
Neglect is perhaps one of the most common forms of destruction. Especially in this season of separation and social distancing, we should be faithful to not neglect the people who are important to us. This means being both attentive and intentional.
Cultivating life-giving relationships requires both attention and intention.
And sometimes, it requires pruning dead branches, and weeding out selfish habits and sinful belief systems.
Just as the earth absorbs what is dead to bring nourishment to new growth – the same is true in our lives! We must die to self before we grow in holiness. And hard storms make us stronger.
“We love because He first loved us.” (John 4:19)
Ultimately, our first relationship and our first love is God himself. He loved us, breathed us into life, and called us to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) His love and His image throughout the world.
The love we pour out to others must be an overflow of the love we have and offer up to the Lord.
So how can we have life-giving relationships in the middle of a pandemic? We can deepen our intimacy with the Lord – to position ourselves to experience all the facets of His love, and to offer that love back to Him as His creations created for worship.
Whether we are in close proximity to others or socially distanced, the mission doesn’t change – we are called to make disciples across the earth, near and far. We are called to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to love one another as Christ loved us.
While in prison, Paul wrote letters to the Church to encourage them. Now more than ever, we are well-positioned to pour out love! Write and mail hand-written letters, Venmo your friend $5 for coffee just because, use your social media platform to testify God’s goodness, turn around to the masked person behind you in line and engage in conversation.
Continue to answer God’s call to steward the life around you, and more life will spring forth!
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”Isaiah 43:19