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We are called to live in community! In fact, to live in community is part of our original design. Psalm 133:1 proclaims, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” When I think upon my brief time spent with YWAM Mazatlan thus far, community is the first word that comes to mind. Dictionary.com defines community as "a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage." That definition, while true in some senses, doesn’t really do justice to defining a Christian community. Truly seeking the heart of God with a devoted family of believers completely transcends that definition. If you are thinking about completing a DTS, and have any doubts about living in a community of believers, here are three things I and others from my DTS have learned on the topic, and have benefited from greatly.
Even though it is wonderful, and fulfilling in many ways, living in a community can be draining if you don’t balance your life in the right ways and find true rest and fulfillment in God alone. This is a particularly hard lesson for me. I have always loved being around people. I find so much simple joy in talking, laughing, praying, or just sitting around with friends. Because of this, I find it difficult to make time for myself. This difficulty is only multiplied when I have a constant source of people living around me at all times! Honestly, it’s a lot of fun! However, God has been speaking to me lately about how much He loves to spend time alone with me, and how in doing so He will give me His peace which transcends all understanding. Even though I adore being with people constantly, throughout my life I have been plagued with anxiety, and it tends to creep up on me when I’m not setting aside time alone to rest in God. We each have different struggles like this that tend to creep up when we’re not constantly laying them down before Jesus. This is only one of several reasons we constantly need rest in God. I also want to point out that “resting in God” doesn’t have to look a certain way. There are many different ways that I find rest in Him. Sometimes I sit and stare out at His creation, and I feel His peaceful presence beside me. Sometimes, I find divine inspiration in reading scripture or in reading theological books. At other times, I sit and talk or write my prayers out. One of my very favorite things is to either walk or drive around while listening to worship music--this can bring such a beautiful time of worship and intimacy with God for me, and it’s something He really uses to soften my heart to hear His voice and guidance. All that being said, take some time and set it aside for God, and seek after Him in whichever way works best for you. God gives us a truly beautiful promise in Jeremiah 29:12-13 when He says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I don’t know about you, but that’s about the most beautiful promise I can imagine receiving from the God of the universe, and it is also a challenge to me to truly give my all and seek Him with all my heart!
DTS can be an emotional time. It is a time of learning new ideas of who you are and of who God is. It can bring to light past hurts and failures. It can also bring new clarity, joy, and healing. All of these things naturally come with a lot of emotions, and the community you’re living in is going to eventually see these emotions whether you want them to or not. My advice is EMBRACE IT! Be open! I have found that so much healing comes from sharing our weaknesses, desires, joys, faults, and general thoughts and feelings with one another. Have you ever felt like you couldn’t share your true thoughts and feelings about something because no one would understand you? This isn’t true. The enemy wants you to think you are alone and he wants you to keep quiet about your inner struggles because he knows the power and healing that comes from bringing these things into the light, into God’s community! My experience of sharing with others both at YWAM Mazatlan and in relationships and friendships outside of YWAM has only confirmed for me over and over again how very alike we all are and how beautiful it is to lean on one another in times of sadness or of joy. Our burdens become much lighter when we are open and honest in sharing them with another human being. Beyond that, once you add prayer to the mix, God moves in even more incredible ways to bring healing and light into the darkest of places. Don’t be afraid of the healing beauty of vulnerability! Galatians 6:2 calls us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
This isn’t a bad thing!
When you come to live in a community with a lot of new people with all different life stories, nationalities, ages, and personalities, there are absolutely going to be differences in everyone’s way of life. Expect this, and embrace it! You can actually learn a lot from seeing how different people live. You begin to learn that everyone has different worldviews based on the individual and unique way they were created and raised, and this process can be truly inspiring. It is an incredible way to remove the focus from ourselves and to grow in humility and servanthood. This being said, you will have to get used to things not always going your way. You will have to get used to “dying to your rights” and serving the needs of others. Matthew 20:25-28 says, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I specifically underlined the phrase “not so with you,” because it is simple and powerful and speaks so much truth about who we are called to be as Jesus’ followers! It is declared time and time again in scripture that we are called to be set apart from the way of the world. The world seeks to serve itself. It is needy, desperate, vain, shallow, and above all, selfish. But “not so with you.” We are called to be life-giving, loving, gentle, peaceful, humble, kind, and completely selfless. We are called to die to our rights, and in return, to gain true life. Luke 9:24 declares, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
These are only three out of so many things God is teaching me through living in the YWAM Mazatlan community. Now is your time! Come and experience the blessing of living in community with God’s family, I can promise it won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it. Romans 12:4-6, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
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