“What have I learned over the course of the year? That is such a big question. I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is that God uses different people to teach us different things. Emotions aren’t bad. Rich people need Jesus and can have Him. Cultural Christians read the gospel too. True friends are a balm to the soul and with Christ you never have to let go (of some of them). Pick a church and stick with it because they’re all broken. Fight for unity and reconciliation. Prayer actually works; we just need to do it. Singleness and marriage are equal calls from God that require discernment. All of our work can glorify God. C.S. Lewis is a wizard. Studying the Bible one-on-one is amazing. I am more like my parents than I thought, and I want to be more like them than I am. Intergenerational relationships are healthy and swell. Girls can be your friends too. God has a plan that we need to trust and the gospel is the greatest and most powerful story ever.” - Daniel Huff, Nashville Fellow 2019
The Fellows just wrapped up Closing Retreat where for over three days we shared a total of fifteen hours or so, reflecting on where we came from, how we’ve grown, and where we’re headed as individuals and a community through the program. The above quote was spoken by our beloved Daniel Huff as he reflected on how this year has impacted him and the lessons he’s garnered from it. These words, though written by one of us, resonated with all of us (minus the revelation on friendships across gender lines, a few of us were already up to speed there). As Daniel shared these words, there was a collective affirmation of head nodding and mhmming that filled the room. I restate his words here to 1) share a thoughtfully succinct summary of what many of us have learned this year, but namely 2) to emphasize the unity that I felt in that room after it was spoken.
A theme that’s been consistent throughout the year, and was certainly present during our time together this past weekend, is the many differences amongst us. We are quiet and outspoken, boisterous and peaceful, artistic and intellectual, regimented and flexible. We share well and we listen well, we teach with our words and our actions, we embrace our emotions and our thoughts. We are a motley crew that has pushed and pulled itself through these past nine months.
As I reflect on the community we’ve formed this year, what most readily comes to mind is the image of Christ as both the lion and the lamb. By juxtaposing two creatures so different in nature and features, the image seems to be getting at the wonderful mystery that is Jesus, in that He is all things good and glorious: just and loving, humble and all-powerful, strong and meek. There’s no enneagram number for Him, and attempting to describe him concisely seems fruitless. He embodies the very character of God and in doing so dispels our human divides.
The dynamic nature of Christ has been ever-present in our gathering as Fellows. Our community, a smaller body amidst the greater Church, has held together, despite our differences, through the power of Christ alone. Unity is hard, and Christ knew this. Among his final words to his Father in John 17 was a plea for unity amongst his followers and the Church. A plea that acknowledges the sincerity by which oneness demands, and foreshadows the difficultly to be expected in pursuing it.
As we finish our final week of work and life together, I am reminded that amidst everything we have achieved and worked towards collectively, nothing is so treasured as the unity that has convicted our characters and tried our hearts. Christ again and again calls us to community, shaping and stretching each of us to become more like him. We as Fellows acknowledge the great work He has done this year amongst us, and each of us look expectantly towards our communities to come where we know that work will carry on to completion until the day of our Lord.