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We will CONNECT – we will not live alone.

We will continue to build strong friendships – we will stay connected and encourage each other.


Nothing exists by itself. Consider the basic building block of the universe – the atom. In every atom, particles are all connected. Each atom is its own universe of connected elements. God has created the world to be connected.



I'm excited to be with you in this session on the second essential. In the first session we talked about the importance of continually growing and developing into the person whom God calls you and me to be. In this second essential we’ll see the incredible value of connecting with others. Our statement is: we will connect, we will not live alone and isolated, but we will continue to build strong relationships.


Relationships have deeply impacted my life. I am the man I am today because of other people who have poured their lives into mine, and other people who I have connected with. I can tell you story after story of how others have changed my life. And I don’t what that to stop.

 

That’s why it is so important to make a conscious commitment to connect with others and refuse to live alone. Did you realize that nothing is ever purely alone in our universe. Look at this diagram of an atom. As small as an atom is, it has several components that work in relationship. Those little molecules spinning around hold everything together in the universe. And they're all connected.


I’m also reminded of the importance of relationships whenever I see migrating geese in flight. Where I grew up, I watched the geese go back and forth on their migration during the various seasons. As we know, they all fly together and help each other if one falls. They draft off of the leader in their formation, and they change leaders as one tires.

 

But here’s the thing about aging and relationships. As we age, we tend to become more isolated for any number of reasons. The sense of being and/or feeling alone may seem inevitable as we grow older. It just comes with the territory, so to speak. It can often creep in, rather than hitting us all at once. That can make it harder to detect, so that by the time we realize what’s happening we find ourselves isolated from others.

 

Aging can take away our careers, the places where we spent maybe forty years or more building relationships and working with others. Aging can also take away our health, mobility—perhaps even our car. When we were working and raising our families, our homes were spinning with life and activity. But now we don’t move as fast as we used to, and we don’t get out as much. And in a society that prioritizes and even worships youth, we may also feel that no one pays attention to us anymore, that nobody is interested in what we have to say.  

 

Added to that is the possible loss of regular contact with other family members. Our children are busy with their lives and families, and maybe they don’t call or visit as often as they used to. The grandkids are busy too, and especially if they live in another place, we may not see or hear from them very often. Last, but certainly not least, there are also the human losses of family members, friends, or even a spouse.

 

That’s quite a list! You can see why some older people simply give up, retreat into their recliner or rocking chair, and let life pass them by. This can also lead to the bitterness of wondering why nobody calls, writes, visits, texts, or whatever anymore—expecting others to do all the work of staying in touch and building relationships while we sit, nurse our ailments and complaints, and become focused on ourselves.

 

It’s true that no one is exempt from the struggle of aging. But that doesn’t mean we are doomed to live isolated lives. That’s not the kind of life I want to live in the last two or three decades of my life, and I believe you don’t want that either. It’s become something of a mantra at Finishing Well Ministries: we will not live alone; we will continue to build strong friendships, both for our benefit and enrichment and that of others.


I’m a cyclist. When I was in college in 1969, I rode a bicycle from Miami Beach to Seattle, Washington. This picture is a bicycle peloton, a group of riders who stay together during a race because it helps them. Now look at the graph, which really opens our eyes to the value of relationships. The rider in front has to expend 86 percent of his energy to maintain the lead because of the wind coming at him and the crosswinds. The riders on the edges also expend more energy because they’re absorbing the pounding of the crosswinds.



But the riders in the middle and back of the peloton only need to expend a small fraction of their energy to maintain the same pace because they are drafting off of the riders in front of and around them. The riders in the back are only expending 5 percent of their energy to ride at the same speed as the leader. It’s really an amazing phenomenon, and a great picture of the value of relationships.

 

God’s Word has a lot to say about the value of friendships, so let me give you some biblical foundations for this issue. Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verses 9 to 12 says:

 

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

 

I grow best when I'm with others who are praying for me, helping me, giving me insight into my life, and challenging me. And I want to do the same for them. Let me say it again: relationships are essential for growth. God’s Word says in Proverbs chapter 27 verse 17: “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That sharpening requires relationships. In the professional athletic world, teams seem to have almost as many coaches to develop players as there are players. We need to ask ourselves how many people we have in our lives who are coaching and encouraging us in our spiritual growth.

 

As I mentioned earlier, aging often brings isolation. But become isolated if you're going through a challenge. Find another person to share it with; be intentional about relationships in your life. The church is a wonderful place to develop relationships. The writer of Hebrews spoke to the value of this when he wrote in chapter 10, verses 24 and 25: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

 

I love the word “stimulate,” or “provoke” in some translations. It's a negative word, meaning somebody who gets under your skin and irritates you. But here the writer of Hebrews uses it in a positive way of moving one another forward in spiritual growth. And he said one way to do that is through the church and the relationships we form there. The question is, as we age, how many people are around us so we can encourage each other to finish life well? We need these connections to help us understand better how God wants to use us in our aging years for the advancement of the church, and for passing on a blessing to the generations coming behind us.

 

Jesus modeled for us the importance of relationships. In John chapter 15, verse 15, on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the 12 apostles: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that My I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” He had a[pointed the 12 to be with Him, and He wanted to tell them everything that was on His heart. That's our challenge as well as we seek to stay connected with others.



This chart of the seven essentials shows you what connecting means. It means that I have friends who are with me, who understand my issues and my heart, and also my challenges. I take time to be with them. You don't connect outside of time and energy spent developing a relationship. On the other hand, Satan would raise barriers to connecting, as you’ll learn on this session. But God wants us to keep connecting as we age. It keeps us on the cutting edge. Don't yield to Satan and live life alone. We need each other in a desperate way. May God bless you and me and us together as we continue to connect with others. Have a great session.


NOTE: This text is an edited transcription of the ESSENTIAL TWO: CONNECT video by Dr. Hal Habecker, edited by Philip Rawley.






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