Have you ever met someone and instantly clicked with them? Sure, it may take months to get to know each other and years to develop a deep friendship, however, in these moments it’s like your soul says “hello, friend!” right from the start. I’ve only had this happen a handful of times in my life and treasure these moments as gifts from God.
One such person for me was Gary who is now a member of Aspen Ridge Church. I met Gary for the first time at last year’s churchwide service project. When we met, he had a big smile, firm handshake, and looked eager to serve. In fact, I learned over time that one of his spiritual gifts was service and have also observed his special way of interacting with those on the margins of society. Like me, Gary enjoys being outdoors in God’s great wild. The middle of nowhere is everywhere to us. He’s a good storyteller as well as a fantastic listener. I bet you don’t know many people who do both of those really well. He loves dogs and he loves to hunt. My kinda guy!
One day Gary and I were out hiking with our dogs and he said, “Finding Aspen Ridge Church and our small group was an answer to my prayers!” At the time, he was in a Freedom in Christ small group with me and some others. I was very encouraged by that comment and after it sank in for a few days, I wanted to know more so I asked him to elaborate. Listen to what he said:
“I was at a point of feeling spiritually stagnated, not really growing and lacking connection with others in the church. I was seeking community. I asked the Lord to in some way bring some other believers into my life so I could continue growing as well as pour back into the church body. Amidst COVID lockdowns, I found that Aspen Ridge Church opened back up. I attended and at the end of the sermon Pastor Jeff emphasized the church’s focus on small groups. Since then, I have become a member and being a part of the small groups has been a great opportunity to study God’s word with others and gives the opportunity for the group to get to know each other well and speak into the lives of one another with Godly advice and support.”
Without precise prayer from his heart’s desire, I believe Gary would still be spiritually stale instead of spiritually alive and on fire like he is. He was looking for community, prayed specifically for it, and God gave it to him.
In addition to the importance of explicit prayer, there are a couple insights I’ve gained from getting to know Gary over the months and reflecting on why there is an instant connection between certain people. The first is that I believe God puts people in our lives for reasons. The instant connection can be God telling you something. God answered Gary’s prayer for holy people in his life and it changed his life as well as mine.
When you feel an instant connection with someone, explore it and ask God why. What do you have for me, Jesus, in this relationship? It is likely he either wants you to share him with them or if they already know him that he has some important Kingdom work for you two to do. He is such a generous God that he blesses you to do his work with someone you vibe with. Someone you can laugh with and pray with. Gary and I have had a great time together leading a small group and serving the community at a local food bank.
Another insight I gained is that the instant connection often involves a shared love for something. Usually an activity. At the time I met Gary, I didn’t know that we shared a love of Jesus, the wilderness he created, hiking, and hunting. But I did feel immediately that we shared something in common; a connection of sorts that I wanted to explore.
When you do an activity you love with someone else who loves it to, they don’t even need to say anything. Their enjoyment is screaming “I get you. My heart loves this as much as you do!” And guess what? God is saying the same thing if it doesn’t involve sin. He loves that activity and created you for it. Doing it is the best way to show him off to others and glorify him.
The things you love to do are your heart’s desires. Your core—the very center of your being. When you meet someone you connect with who loves Jesus AND loves something that you do, it is truly a gift from God that satisfies the soul. This truth is a pillar in what we call our fun small groups like “horsing around” (horseback riding), hiking, mountain biking, and others at Aspen Ridge Church. Another pillar in these fun groups is the outreach potential as you invite others to join in on an activity you both enjoy who may otherwise be hesitant to come inside our church walls. Check out the list of these groups on our website or in the media stands on campus.
I encourage you to join one of these fun small groups over the summer in an activity you love to do or have interest in trying out. In addition to the fun groups in these sunny months, the fall presents a great opportunity to join a sermon-based or topic-based group that re-start after summer break. If you are feeling a nudge to check one or more out, go for it. Who knows, you just might make an instant connection with someone who will become a friend and Kingdom worker with you!
Summertime sunny blessings,
Eric Krajewski, Director of Small Groups