Today, Ford Chittom, a freshman Biblical Studies Major, is sharing with us what being in relationship means to him, and how that connects to being “on mission.”
A few years ago, I was stressed about the future, so I decided that the best solution was a kayaking adventure. I drove my truck fifteen minutes from my grandparents’ house to the bridge over Yellow Creek in North Alabama. Yellow Creek is a small tributary of the Coosa River that empties into Weiss Lake in a beautiful waterfall. I set out, alone, with my kayak, a cooler with a shameful amount of La Croix, and a life jacket that was too big that I had gotten to “grow into a few years before.” I pulled the boat over some rocky creek bank to the small, narrow, main channel. I paddled a few yards, but the water was too low so I had to drag my kayak over the rough rocks for a lot of the time. I alternated between dragging, pulling, and chugging La Croixs until I got to the first waterfall. I was unprepared for the twenty foot waterfall and I eventually pushed my kayak off and found a conveniently placed rope that I used to repel down. I pulled and dragged until I got to the big waterfall.
I planned on meeting my Dad and grandfather at the big waterfall so they could drive me back to my truck. I had no idea how tall the waterfall was beforehand and later learned that it was over forty five feet tall.When I got to the waterfall. I looked down at all the families and friends picnicking under the waterfall and swimming together. Alone, covered in mud, scared, and out of La Croix, I realized I didn’t need the adventure as much as I needed the connection with people. They were only fifty feet away from me, but they were so far away. I couldn’t just jump off of the waterfall or I would have gotten hurt. I couldn’t connect with people even though I was right there. I ended up throwing my kayak off of the waterfall in a safe spot and dangerously climbing rocks until I ultimately found my way down. When I finally reunited with my family at the bottom, I was so happy to see them and connect with them. The warm hugs and jokes from my family gave me more than a perilous adventure ever could.
Sometimes we are only separated with someone by just a few feet, but so many more things. We get separated by our fear of rejection, our insecurities, our own selfish desires, and our phone screens. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the feeling of satisfaction from adventure that we can only find through God and community. I was physically above everyone and we can often treat people with contempt when we feel intellecutually, morally, economically, socially, or spiritually above other people. God loves us and makes us all special. He designed us to be with one another and love one another in spite of our differences. God gifts us in different ways and he calls all of us to live in community to be the church. Jesus had his people during his time on Earth. He had twelve disciples that he spent most of his time with, and he served with. Being with the disciples wasn’t always easy. They argued about who was the greatest, betrayed him, sliced off some guy’s ear, doubted him, and took him by a bad fig tree.
However, Jesus did some great things with the disciples. He sent them out, and they witnessed to hundreds of people. He got to share in his ministry with them and help them grow in their faith. He also got to be friends with them. They went fishing together, stayed together, spent time together, ate together, and I bet they pranked each other. Jesus and his disciples grew so much from their investment in one another, but they also branched out to other people everyone and served everyone. He was friends with Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus, and While he had a relatively small crew of people that he served with, Jesus was friends with Zacchaeus. He ate with tax collectors. He went to someone who lived in the middle of nowhere, cast out a demon, put the demon on some pigs, and the pigs ran off of a cliff (Yes I know I’ve said a lot about cliffs). He talked to the woman at the well and changed her so much that she ran into town and proclaimed his power. Jesus was not afraid to be with everyone and did not only spend time with the disciples. It is important to have a group that you really invest in, but it’s important to have people outside of that group. There’s so many great people in the world and Jesus did not limit himself to only a few to be with. He served and spent time with people outside of his inner circle. I think it’s important to do that also. It’s important to work out issues within a community, but don’t be afraid to let your circle grows.
Another thing that Jesus did a great job of was being alone. Jesus retreated to the mountains for a whole night to pray about who would become his disciples. Just as Jesus did, it is very important to connect with God through prayer to prepare for connection with others. Psalm 121:2 says “my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and Earth.” God absolutely intended us for connection with others, but he also wants us to pray make him the source of my help. Jesus illustrates this especially with the greatest commandments “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:27-29.Jesus calls us to love and connect with God and with people. So go therefore and connect with people, love people, and make disciples.
We are so happy to have had Ford share this great message with us. If you want to take part in relationship-based missions, check out global.belmont.edu before Friday! If you have any questions about Belmont on Mission, reach out, and follow us on social media @BelmontOnMission