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The Value of Together

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Have you ever wondered where you belong? Looked for a place to fit in? Felt all alone right in the middle of all your people?

It’s okay. I have too. We all have.

Together matters even when we don’t feel the connections as we’d like. Home matters, too, because that’s where belonging begins.

You’ve likely heard the phrase before: Home is where you belong. Home is a biblical idea; God made us to be connected to specific people—our families—in a specific place: our homes. And it’s biblical because God will call us to live with Him forever one day in His Home.

Many of you recently found yourself in the back-to-school scurry at your home. You’re reorganizing your family into this year’s fall routine and trying to keep up with crockpot dinners, practice schedules, lunch money, and scheduled family nights.

Maybe you are like me and you’ve asked yourself, “Why am I doing all of this?!” on more than one overly busy day.

We women do tend to take on more than can be done. At least this woman does. But I know that what I’m doing matters, that my efforts might result in good for those I love. I no longer have kids at home, but I’m always looking for opportunities to gather with my family … knowing that something meaningful might take place when we are together for those weekends or holidays or vacations. And that hope is all this mom needs to keep going. To keep getting my family together.

The word gather is used over 130 times throughout the Old and New Testaments, which means it’s not an inconsequential concept. The most common use is in reference to God gathering us, His people.

Deuteronomy 30:3 says, “God will gather you again from all the peoples …” and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Gathering together mirrors God’s familial relationship with His Son and with us, His children. It is therefore a very biblical practice. If gathering is something God does, and we are to imitate Him, then I want to bring my people together and make it meaningful for my King.

There is an old hymn that sings of the day we will be gathered together without sin, without death, with the One who bought us with His blood. The chorus of, “Shall We Gather at the River,” is the part I remember and it goes like this:

Yes, we’ll gather at the river

The beautiful, the beautiful river

Gather with the saints at the river

That flows by the throne of God

Since the Garden of Eden, when God placed the garden home He made for Adam and Eve at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates, rivers have been gathering places for His children.

Did you know?

  • God’s people lived near the Nile River in Egypt and into that river Moses was placed with a prayer and hopes of deliverance.

  • The Jordan River formed the entrance to the promised land and in those waters Jesus was baptized.

  • In the foreign land of Babylon, God’s people gathered together at the River Chebar, where one day Ezekiel saw his visions of angels and a future God would unfold one day.

  • And on the banks of the same Tigris River once enjoyed by Adam and Eve, Daniel saw a vision of a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. Life-altering moments happened near rivers of water.

Perhaps that’s why in Acts 16, Paul and his companions, recently arrived in Phillipi, went on the Sabbath “to a riverside where we were supposing there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who were assembled.”

I wondered when I read this verse:

  • Why were there no men?

  • Why were these women not at the synagogue on the Sabbath or were they not allowed?

  • Were the women all Gentiles?

  • Why did Paul and his friends assume this was where they could find those whose hearts were open to God?

Like Lydia and her friends who met Paul and Jesus that day, women today are often the instigators of gatherings—whether by a river, in our kitchens, or even at a park while our kids play.

We are also usually the leaders of gatherings of family and friends around holidays and other special occasions. This desire to share life together is good because we know God is present when two or more believers gather together.

This year as you prepare for intentional time together even in the busyness of the day to day, try to remember that your gathering is both a link to generations past and a foretaste of the day when God will gather all of His children to Himself for the wedding supper of the Lamb! And teach these truths to your family so they too can anticipate their one day future too.

Celebrate together both your heritage and your future!


My Heart, Ever His: Prayers for Women (NEW from Barbara Rainey)

As we search for meaning in our world of shallow online relationships and glamorized selfies, many are returning to traditional and liturgical churches. The repeated words, benedictions, and historic hymns connect us to saints who have gone before, giving us a sense of belonging, richness, and transcendence. Written prayers, once cast off as archaic, are now welcomed as guides to tune our hearts to the heart of God.

In My Heart, Ever His Barbara Rainey shares 40 prayers for women. Readers can read and meditate on one prayer throughout the week or read a prayer a day for 40 days as a way to express the longing of our hearts to our Father who loves us even as he sees who we truly are. Like the psalms of David, these prayers are honest, sometimes raw. Barbara uses these transparent expressions of common female experiences to encourage us to surrender to Christ and help us see God as he is, not as we assume him to be. My Heart, Ever His provides a stepping-stone to help you become more transparent with God and discover his welcoming embrace.


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