Painted into the Scene

Imagine a painting of a group of men and women casually dressed, seated on couches and chairs in a cozy living room. They are laughing, talking, and enjoying one another’s company. In one corner of the couch, there’s an empty space. Just a throw pillow with a beagle leaning against it.

Now imagine Jesus picking up his paintbrush, swirling it in some vibrant colors, and painting a new member, a woman, into that corner of the couch. When He’s finished, the dog is sitting next to her, and she’s smiling, legs drawn up underneath her while she listens to the flowing conversation. She’s happy, at peace. If you could hear her thoughts, you’d hear, “this community is a treasure worth pursuing.”

Jar of paintbrushes

Leanna-Shaped Hole

This is exactly what I feel like Jesus did for me this weekend. In a long season of letting go, it feels like I’ve done nothing except relinquish old identities, push through fears, and grieve old plans that I had for my life.

But somehow, the Master Artist knew there was a place for me in Zanesville. In fact, He made sure there was a Leanna-shaped hole in the corner of that couch, just waiting to be filled, as He expertly painted me into the scene.

During this last season, as I wrestled, fought, and feared my way into obedience to His will, Jesus knew all along that He was preparing a place for me. The move to a new city would be the springboard to something amazing! Thank God that these wonderful people had the patience to watch me go through this process and not rush me or give up on me.

There were moments in the last few months that the depression and anxiety were so intense I didn’t think I could leave my house or even open my mouth to speak two coherent sentences together.  During all that, they just stood by me and prayed me into my current existence. Maybe they could see what I couldn’t. God had plans for me in Zanesville that couldn’t be accomplished with one foot in one city and one in another.

The Big Move

So, on Saturday, I packed up the car, truck, and trailer with the help of family and friends, and I made it to the apartment. Lo and Behold! A whole crew of people schlepped my belongings, including one very large couch, up a staircase with no less than 5 turns! And then they came with a pot of chili, cornbread, banana muffins, and drinks, and stood around chatting and eating in my new kitchen.

Every moment they were there released comfort and peace to this unfamiliar and unexpected place I found myself in. Their presence alone made it feel perfectly normal to cram a 3-bedroom ranch lifestyle into an 8’x9′ room. They couldn’t know what it meant to me to be adopted into this community that intentionally walks out life together as a family.

Picture of Leanna with plaque reading Happy Move in Day Leanna

Intentional Fellowship

I’ve always loved (and, honestly, sort of despised) this verse, Psalm 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families…” There have been seasons that I have been hopeful, or desperate, for my own family. But right now, I can see that He does place the lonely in families. Sometimes they are families that adopt you into their own.

This is how I felt, one night after The Big Move. There I sat in the Leanna-sized-nook on the couch surrounded by the happy chaos of my new tribe. I played with the beagle’s floppy ears, and thanked God that I had been accepted with open arms to this community. A community that hosts prayer and fellowship nights that go late into a snowy evening, while bands of squealing kids gallop around the house looking for mittens and snow pants for sledding.

Once again, God has shown me that His faithfulness is endless, His love is boundless, and His care is perfect. His ways are definitely not my ways, and I am so incredibly thankful for that! Because His ways are infinitely more rewarding if we will listen and obey.

Two days later, here I am, with my heart full and my spirit at rest. I think my heart has finally come home.

Creating Intentional Community

Do you have this type of tribe – one who does real life together?

Do you have an intentional community of believers who will do the fun stuff together (eating, praying, playing) and also show up together for the hard stuff (moving day and dark moody days). If you do have a great community, then who can you paint into the open seat on your couch?

If you don’t have a strong community yet, can you be the one to create it for those around you?

For this community-starved gal, I can say that no cost is too small. Including a move to another city. Let’s do whatever we need to in order to live the way Jesus called us to live – in community with one another.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:44-47