I came across this quote from Orson Welles recently, he says; “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”
When I read this one of my first thoughts was this is a very sad place to live life from and with all due respect to the very gifted Orson, I think he’s sadly wrong. Especially for the person who walks through life with the one (Jesus) who said; “I will always be with you.”
What Orson’s words do reveal though, is a longing in each one of us to know and be known, to walk through life with others, to find friendship that goes beyond the superficial and “to run (as Gordon MacDonald says) in the company of the happy few”. This quote is taken from his excellent book, ‘A Resilient Life’, where he goes on to write, “God does much of His work in our lives through personal relationships… I cannot grow into what God wants me to be (and do) unless I am in tight formation with some others… what I really need are relationships in which I will be encouraged to become better than myself… I want to be the ‘myself’ that is developing each day to be more of a Christ-like person.”
Each of us needs to be in different ‘levels’ of community and we see this in the life of Jesus. Sometimes he got alone, to spend time with his Father (we need to do the same). He also had the twelve with whom he served others and ‘did life’ with (think LIFE Groups and Serving Teams), He also had a larger community that he was part of (think Sunday’s and events).
But within the twelve he had the three.
When you read through the gospels, James, Peter and John seemed to have access to Jesus that others in the twelve didn’t share. Jesus involved them in things that the others weren’t part of [Luke 9:28] and was vulnerable, sharing his struggles with them in a way that he didn’t with the twelve [Mark 14:33-34].
At King’s we call these ‘happy few’, Running Partners. The book of Hebrews says the Christian life is like running a race [Hebrews 12:1-3] and we’re not meant to run alone. Over the past couple of years we’ve been encouraging people to find a few people to gather with (men with men and women with women) and build deep, close friendships. Friends with whom we can be vulnerable, real and honest; where we can share at a deep level, spur one another on, be encouraged to follow Jesus, not give up and grow more like him. Here are two examples of what goes on in a Running Partner group:
“I have been loving doing life together with my Running Partners over the past few months. I meet with three good girl friends of mine, usually about once a month, to chat, encourage, challenge and pray with each other. Sometimes we agree to talk about a particular topic, like our marriages, gifting, etc, and other times we’ll just go with the flow. I have really benefited from the opportunity to be truly open and accountable to some good friends, knowing that they won’t shy away from the difficult questions and that they will help me be a better disciple by encouraging me but also lovingly pointing out where I’m getting stuff wrong! It’s also been great to celebrate together when we have seen prayers answered and wonderful blessings in each other’s lives. I totally recommend you find yourself some Running Partners if you haven’t already, and then enjoy all that Jesus does as you step out in sharing your life more closely with those around you!“
“If you’ve been around King’s over the past year, you will have heard the term ‘Running Partners’ mentioned a number of times. Running Partners are simply good friends, ‘partners’ who we trust, can be honest with, and give mutual support too. In our busy lives, life can often feel like we are running, and often we can feel like we are running alone. It is great to have those alongside who run together with us. I have two good friends and over a year ago I asked them to become my running partners. We meet about once a month early on a Saturday morning, we normally take a short walk, before heading to somewhere for a good hearty full English breakfast.
This time allows us time to chat and share the ups and downs of life, we then finish up praying for each other. We have encouraged each other to read good books, have discussed them together and supported each other in prayer. During the month we also have each other at the end of the phone or on email, just to be able to call and ask for prayer and support.
Over the last year it has been so good being one of three great friends, who share honestly together, are accountable to each other, and have supported each other.”
Image: ‘Running Shoes’ by Josiah Mackenzie