In mid December, 2002 my wife and I found ourselves in a place we never imagined we’d be, burying 2 daughters. Just a few months earlier we had welcomed identical triplet girls into the world. They were small. They were weak. There were problems. And after two months that seemed both way too hard and entirely too short, we buried Christina and Elena a few days before Christmas.
We woke up that Christmas morning with what can only be described as “mixed” emotions. There was an odd mixture of thankfulness for what we had been allowed to keep, mourning over what had been taken, and honestly, a fair share of guilt, anger and confusion over the fact that my Romans 8:28 bandaid no longer seemed to be “working”. I didn’t now how to reconcile my theological belief in a sovereign God who ordered and ordained all things for his own glory, with the fact that I now knew coffins came in children’s sizes. Ya’ll, I was done.
I firmly believe that the only reason we survived, and I’m talking our faith, our family, our marriage, was because of the faithful pursuit of friends who walked deeply with Jesus and who loved us well.
This “Gospel COMMUNITY” consistently lifted us up, praying with and for us. They cared for Susie when I could not. They provided for our two daughters when we could not. These people even erased a ridiculously intimidating mountain of medical debt. They cooked meals. They did laundry. They talked. They laughed with us, cried with us. They sat in silence with us. They continually reminded us that God was good. And they always, always pointed us in the direction of Jesus.
I was thinking about all of this last week as I read the following passage from Mark 2.
 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
I thought a lot about the relationship between this paralytic and his 4 friends. I thought about how when this man could not come to them, 4 friends went to get him. I thought about how, when he could not walk along beside them, 4 friends picked him up and carried him. I thought about how, when the crowds blocked their access to Jesus, 4 friends took him up to the roof. And how, when obstructed by a roof that was an almost impenetrable mass of mud and thatch and lumber rafters, 4 friends ripped the roof apart. And I thought about how Jesus, in response to the faith of these 4 friends, was moved to meet the needs of the one they had transported into his presence.
And all this thinking led me to ask a couple of questions. First, who from among my neighbors do I experience that type of Gospel COMMUNITY with? Who is willing to stop at nothing to make sure that I stand in the presence of Jesus? I remember how valuable that was for us. And then secondly, who from among my neighbors and friends do I pursue on Gospel MISSION? Who do I love to the degree that I am willing to do whatever it takes, even to physically carry them into the presence of Jesus?
How about you? Do you have Gospel COMMUNITY? Are you living along side others, serving on Gospel MISSION? If your answer is “Yes”, then praise God for the valuable (and rare) thing you have found.
But if the answer to either of these is “No”, then we would invite you to join with Bluff Park Community Church this coming Sunday for gathered worship. Honestly we don’t do either of these things perfectly. We don’t have all our ducks in a row and we certainly haven’t “arrived”. But by God’s grace we do know what we are aiming for. We would love to have you join with us in the journey.