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  • Writer's pictureDavid Shipley

Together, again

Devo by David Shipley

I wish I had pictures from the church scrapbook during this time in the book of Acts:

"The whole group of believers was united in their thinking and in what they wanted. None of them said that the things they had were their own. Instead, they shared everything. With great power the apostles were making it known to everyone that the Lord Jesus was raised from death. And God blessed all the believers very much. None of them could say they needed anything. Everyone who owned fields or houses sold them. They brought the money they got and gave it to the apostles. Then everyone was given whatever they needed." Acts 4:32-35

The church's acts of sharing established a fountain of trust, all rooted in their faith in their newly confessed Lord Jesus. Their needs were met beyond the basics. Periods of togetherness and rest build memories of encouragement. They were laying in storage resources that, unknown to them yet, would get them through upcoming challenges.

As Acts progresses, their challenges come just a few chapters beyond this peaceful period. What would this next set of pictures look like?

"Saul agreed that the killing of Stephen was a good thing. Some godly men buried Stephen and cried loudly for him. On that day the Jews began to persecute the church in Jerusalem, making them suffer very much. Saul was also trying to destroy the group. He went into their houses, dragged out men and women, and put them in jail. All the believers left Jerusalem. Only the apostles stayed. The believers went to different places in Judea and Samaria." Acts 8:1-4

Whatever sentiments were captured in the first set of pictures, there must've been a foundation of trust. And that trust would go through a period of trial as they endured a forced separation.

Trust. Part of togetherness, a key part, is trust.

When the persecution forced the church out of their togetherness, what happened to that trust? Was it strained? Did it erode? Was it hard to know who to trust? Did uncertain circumstances make them uncertain about their relationships? When the church couldn't gather and meet and be together like they had once been, did they lose any sense of trust?

I dusted off several pictures filed in my phone and tablet and computer. They are good memories of being together with family, with friends and with the church. Pictures come with a thousand words and of few of those words are joy, love & laughter. And of course, trust. Behind the smiles and joy is a lot of foundational work of trust.

Estes Park

These first three images give a sense of motion and depict some hilarious reactions. Can you spot the two who bow in laughter? The non-smilers who eventually break? The non-smilers who, well, keep not smiling? And how about the husband stealing a kiss from his bride?

Serve Day

This one is a group shot with several of the students from the 151st St. Church's youth ministry. We just finished setting up, serving & cleaning up a meal for the senior members of our church. I love all the personalities here.

Christmas Cheers

I can't unsee those worn, white crocs with socks. Sorry.

From Alaska with love

Two Mrs. Shipleys in two pictures! To the left, Jenny pushes Josie in a stroller next to my mother. This picture is from Talkeetna, Alaska. The town motto is: "We're all here because we're not all there."

Above is another picture of Jenny and my mom on the back porch of our first home in Wasilla, Alaska.

Wedding Rehearsal

Wedding ceremonies are always a collision of worlds. Family, old friends, new friends, finances, & inlaws. Not too many sparks flew at this rehearsal. My sister and her husband James were married on my parents' property in Lander, Wyoming. It was a wonderful ceremony.

Students being students

Some hilarious things must've been said at these somewhat informal gatherings. Or some hilarious faces were made. Either way, there was much rejoicing.

Just the Ladies

Teatime and no boys allowed. A lot has changed since this picture was taken. Some in this picture are no longer with us. We miss them each day. But we're thankful for some good memories. We are also grateful for their generosity and faith in God that they shared with each of us.

We carry a pile of pictures around in our phones, tablets & computers, don't we? Can you imagine if they were all film and prints? Our devices are the modern envelopes, scrapbooks & filing cabinets. Despite digitizing most of our photo memories, printing and posting still prompts so many questions.

Where was that?

Who was there?

What happened to so-&-so?

How much do you miss them?

Can we go there again?

Pictures say a thousand things in the span of a moment. They bring up questions we haven't thought to ask in a while.

It feels like being together again is still several weeks, or even months, away. But we'll get back together. And we'll need to pay attention to rebuilding trust and extending a lot of grace and patience along the way. But it's always worth it for the sake of being together, again.

Thanks for reading!

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