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By Connie L. Peters
Special to The PREVIEW
Years ago, I was going through a lonely time. It seemed like my friends were dropping like flies. One died. One moved. One drifted away. One was strained by conflict. One pursued a new ministry and new relationships. God reminded me of Shannon Creek.
Shannon Creek was a significant place in my growing-up years. My last name was Shannon, I lived along Shannon Creek Road, and Shannon Creek was about two stone-throws away. A lot of my relatives lived nearby, and in my earlier years, my parents ran Shannon Creek Park, a place where the town folk used to come for picnics.
We built dams and swam in Shannon Creek, though it never got much above our hips. We explored by walking up and down the creek for miles. And even after the park closed down, all of us neighborhood kids would play there. The old abandoned park with its deserted buildings and broken bridge was where I liked to go as a teen to think things out.
I remember one particularly gray, wintry New Year’s Eve when I went up there to brood. I had just been informed that three of my best friends were invited to a party and I wasn’t. I faced the evening alone, feeling rejected and very lonely. As I sat on the dilapidated bridge and watched the ice, twigs and dead leaves rush past, His still small voice became apparent even above my heavy thoughts. “I want to be with you.”
I thought about that. Maybe no one on this earth wanted to be with me, but the God of the universe did. He even cleared my schedule so I could bring in the New Year with him. With a new perspective, I marched to my house and celebrated with my King.
I read chapters 14-17 of John. Jesus was leaving his friends. They were as depressed as I had been that evening. In John15:5, He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” God created us. He loved us so passionately that He sent His Son to die for us. He wants us to remain in him, hang out with him, so we can bear fruit, become who He designed us to be: people of great value.
So, in what I was going through with my friends, God was reminding me of that again. Though my feelings were contrary to this truth, I could see clearly that this was a God-thing, not a woe-is-me thing. He had cleared my schedule and removed some of my relationships in order for me to spend more time with Him. Instead of grumbling about the hardships, I needed to be thanking Him for His love and attention. He paid a great price for us to be able to come boldly to the throne of grace. We need to take advantage of it and not wait until we’re lonely.
Now, years later, I find it’s still true. When I put my relationship with Him first by spending time in Bible study and prayer, I can enjoy my relationship with others, counting on God, not them, to fulfill me.
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