Faith is a team sport. That is to say, my faith is something far less if it weren’t for the people who have been a part of my life. Would you agree? The Holy Spirit works in your life continuously. And, often times that work is directly through other people who come alongside of you. Sometimes they come alongside of you for a leg in your journey. And sometimes they are with you from the beginning until the end. Regardless, it is the people that you walk through life with that are a huge part of helping you become who you are.
I know Jesus better because of the faithful people that are part of my story. I know you are the same way. Faith is a community event just as much as it is a personal possession. This fact is one of the many challenges of our society’s obsession with individual identity. In short, I don’t know who I am without the people around me.
As we come into this Lenten season, beginning February 14th with Ash Wednesday, we will lean into one another as we journey to the Cross of Christ.
Don Harp was a brilliant young man who had the world in front of him. Then came the diagnosis—a rare form of cancer. Radiation, Chemo, immunotherapy—none of it worked. Don died earlier this year at the far too young age of 26. If you or someone you love has been through cancer and its treatments, you know the marathon that it comes with—the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. It’s brutal. This was the case for Don and his family. It’s why Don established “Wellness Check Wednesdays.”
Every Wednesday Don would call and check in on people. When folks would answer Don’s call he would say, “It’s Wellness Check Wednesday… and it’s me calling to check on you.” The truth is, Don wasn’t well. His body was failing. And yet there was something about Don and his battle to see life at a different plane than the rest of us. There was a reality for Don that the community that had surrounded him throughout his life was a vital part of his cancer journey.
How many times have you said, “I wouldn’t know what to say…” A fear of awkwardness or saying the wrong thing can often prevent us from reaching out to people when they need to hear from us the most. The beauty of Wellness Check Wednesday is that Don cut the ice—he initiated the contact. And it was glorious.
The season of Lent is upon us. We will be gathering on Wednesdays throughout to worship and walk with Jesus. The scripture focus for each Wednesday will be a different story of Jesus healing someone in the Gospels. Jesus cares about your health. Another frequent tradition of Lent is to give something up as a way of fasting and focusing on your spiritual health. I think this can be a healthy discipline. However, this year, I invite you to join me with a different element inspired by Don. Will you join with me in Wellness Check Wednesdays? Each Wednesday reach out to someone that you haven’t talked with in a while. Or someone who you know has been through a hard season. Or, maybe someone whose voice you miss hearing. Check in on someone. Tell them you are doing it as a part of Prince of Peace’s devotion through Lent. If you want a bigger challenge, ask them what you can pray for them about, write it down, pray over them for a week, and follow up next Wednesday. Or, for an even bigger challenge yet, pray with them on the phone. Or invite them to join you for church. These conversations can go in any different direction.
But, the beauty is, that faith is made whole when we live together. Thanks Don—even as you leave this world you point to Jesus. And you help us to follow Him closer too.