I am more and more convinced that one of the enemy’s greatest tactic is isolation. There’s nothing he loves more than getting us on our own and once in that isolated state, reinforce how alone we are.

It’s the classic tactic found in the story of Adam and Eve. The serpent approaches Eve on her own, maybe because he knew there would be strength in numbers. It is always so much easier to say yes to temptation on your own.

And yet by complete contrast,Jesus is in the business of connection. Of unity. Of togetherness. Even long before Jesus’ birth, the prophets speak of a time when Heaven will send us an ‘Emmanuel‘- “God with us”. Because God’s intention was never for man- people- his people, to ever be alone.

So it’s no surprise that oftentimes we’ll find ourselves feeling alone. It’s a tactic the enemy will try and use against people in order to strip us of our effectiveness. And if successful, this tactic can remove you prematurely from the very space you were made to occupy.

And it starts so subtly, too. With a whisper telling you that your friends aren’t really your friends. That your church isn’t really the place you belong; that you have no business responding to THAT call from God to THAT big vision he’s giving you- i mean, who ARE you, really? You?

And on and on the battle rages, trying to isolate you into a thought pattern that is designed to get you feeling doubtful,disconnected and alone. And once in that place, you begin to talk yourself out of God’s promises. Maybeit’s just me. But if, like me, you’ve felt that way, i want to encourage you- it’s not God’s intention for us to be alone. We were made for  connection. First with our creator God and then to others.

Over the past few weeks I’ve felt disconnected. As a family we’re in a transitional place in many ways. We’ve found ourselves in a  strange place where some older connections that were once very strong, through no fault  of their own,  are naturally fading, while new ones that are forming aren’t perhaps as strong yet in the same manner but are worth investing into, which, we accept will grow with time. And so we’ve found ourselves feeling disconnected in many ways in terms of relationships and it’s left us feeling lonely, which is a strange and new feeling for me as I’m so used to being connected to lots and lots of people.

But in this very strange place, God has been teaching us afresh the importance of connection.

1) I  am strong when I’m connected to God.

When people go to the gym wanting Peter Andre abs  (still a thing?), they’re first of all taught the importance of strengthening their core. First their core stability, which are the deep internal muscles closest to your spine upon which stronger muscles that effectively build the outward abs depend on. Our relationship with God is like the hidden core stability. When that is strong, the stronger and more connected i feel. Ironically, the key to staying more connected starts first and foremost in alone time- but not with any human being, myself included- but alone time with God. From here I strengthen from the inside out and i am less susceptible to emotional injury.

2) I am strong when I’m connected to others.

Carrying on from the analogy of the gym, in order for me to get strong, i need some core strength. This is found in the the outer muscles that protect the spine and limit movement so as to prevent injury. Building core strength is like getting a support system of people around you that won’t be detrimental to your relationship with God but will work together to strengthen it.My core friends are few. But they are people who ALWAYS point me back home to Jesus. And i am strong when i allow these connections to strengthen.

3) I am strong when i choose to connect

The best way to combat disconnect is to choose to make a connection. I may not have as many friends as i used to have but all that means is that I’m perfectly placed to be a friend- because i know what it’s like to be lonely. So this month we chose to sign up to our church’s #100Homes initiative, which is all about getting to know people across the dinner table. It’s a great way to combat disconnect. In the times whenfriends are few around me, i choose to be a friend.

So with that in mind then, how is your core stability? How’s your relationship with God?

What about your core strength? Are the people in your life pointing you back to the Jesus?

Are there people in your world who are lonely? Could someone you know use some friendship?

This week, I’d love to encourage us all to make a connection. First with God, who is our everything. And then with others, who, like us, could use a little community.

John 14-16-18

I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth … I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 

Matthew 28: 20

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. 

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and of good courage … for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.