My husband and I are participating in a reading challenge. Perhaps you’ve seen the hashtag #emptyshelf or you follow Jon Acuff. If not, basically we cleared two shelves of all books and kitsch in anticipation of all of the books we will read this year.
I’m just about finished with my third book. (I should mention that the challenge started before the New Year because when you’re #awesome, you don’t wait for the New Year to start doing something #awesome).
My third book is the first book my husband read. Waking the Dead, The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive by John Eldredge. It is a life-changing book.
So much of what Eldredge has to say resonates so incredibly deeply with my heart it leaves me breathless. And I am excited that my husband has read it, too. Him for the second time. If he were not feeling so awful with sickness right now, I am pretty sure that I would be chattering non-stop with him, sharing questions and ideas and insights and yearning and joy.
Because the heart is good. The heart is not deceitful or wicked or evil. The heart is good.
My heart is good.
My heart is good because it is now the dwelling place of God and God cannot dwell where there is evil.
But it’s more than that.
It involves story. And it involves community. And it involves fellowship.
The story we are writing every day. The community that surrounds us if we seek it out. A fellowship of the heart that bands together a group of people with grace and love.
A fellowship of the heart.
A fellowship of believers who will go where many will not. Into the raw, naked truth of who you are where they will see you as the glorious image bearer that God created you to be (and remind you of that when you forget). They will fight with you in the battle against the enemy. They will fight for you against this enemy of your heart. They will be your band of brothers (and sisters) who will follow you into the fray, like Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli do for Frodo.
As Eldredge painted a picture of small, intimate groups of believers who come together in life, my soul stirred.
A group that knows and loves one another intimately.
A group that prays for the worst fears you harbor.
A group that prays for the warfare the enemy continually tries to inflict upon your heart through people and circumstances.
A group that knows your story and does not judge because they know your heart is good. That it has been redeemed by Jesus.
A group that breaks bread together, laughs together, cries together, plays together, goes on mighty quests together.
I had this kind of group once. In Boston. It is amazing how such a group can inspire you to live so fully alive that you bring glory of God. But that is what we did for each other.
And I miss that.
I have missed that for thirteen years. I have sought it out, that intimacy and that fellowship, but it has been more elusive than I thought it would.
But, as I read this book, I heard God whisper to my heart, to my soul, to the very essence of who I am: soon. you will find it again soon.
This is something for which my heart yearns. This is something that my soul craves. This is something my marriage needs.
The idea that my husband and I can find a fellowship of the heart. That we can be surrounded by willing warriors who will fight beside us in the battle to free those whose hearts remain captive. That we can be a part of a fellowship that will take on mighty quests for the sake of strangers we have never met.
This is what stirs my soul and awakens my heart.
This. A fellowship of the heart.