There is a story that tells of a young Jewish man who wanted to study with the great Rabbi. Every day the young man would follow the Rabbi, hoping to learn from him. The young man felt he needed to do his best, to be the most help he could, so the Rabbi would take him on as a student. Each day he would seek out things he could do, tasks he could perform to show he was worthy. One day as the young man was following the Rabbi, they came to a place in the road where a large boulder lay. The Rabbi stopped and called the young man over. The Rabbi said, “Do you see this stone here? I know you have been with me several months now hoping to become a student of mine. I have watched you seek out tasks every day, with each task more difficult than the last. When you are able to move this stone, then you will be ready to become a student.” With that, the Rabbi and his followers continued on. The young man stayed behind, staring at the boulder – it was quite large. He spent several hours that day, and the days that followed, trying with all his might to move that stone. He pushed on it; he pulled on it; he dug around it hoping to loosen it; he tried using branches for levers – all to no avail. It was simply too heavy for him to move. Finally, after many weeks of trying, the young man went to the Rabbi and admitted his failure. “You told me to move the stone,” the young man said, “but I have tried everything I know for hours upon hours and days upon days – and nothing I do has even moved it an inch.” “I am not smart enough or strong enough to be your student,” the young man confessed. The Rabbi looked upon him with compassion and said, “I never asked you to do it alone.”
All too often in life we believe we must do things “by ourselves” – as if it’s a sign of weakness if we let others help us or if we ask for help. But I am reminded that when Jesus sent the disciples out to preach and teach in his name, he did not send them alone. True, he was with them in Spirit. True, the Holy Spirit came to be with us always. But even before his death, when Jesus sent the disciples out to minister he sent them in pairs. He did not expect them to work alone, but to share the burden with each other – to walk the journey together, lifting one another up, sharing the work, sharing their strengths and skills, sharing their faith.
Reading Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we are reminded that Jesus prayed for them and for us. Jesus prayed that God guide and guard and sanctify them as a community, so that they might glorify God in all they say and do.
How are you living out your faith in community? Are you reaching out to others, not just to help them but to seek support yourself? Are you strengthening the bonds of relationship with others, knowing that God calls us to journey together?
I am thankful God has placed me in a wonderful community of faith – to walk the journey together sharing our burdens, our strengths, our skills – and most importantly, our faith.
I pray you each have such a community of the faithful to journey with.
Blessings and grace,