by Gary Dyksterhouse
‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Each year, around 45,000 people in our country take their own life. I have personally known two childhood friends who made that tragic choice. Our world is a dangerous place, and there is nowhere more dangerous than in the deep recesses of our own minds. The gospel makes it very clear that Christians are to be light in this world, and that there is an opposing set of forces who are working to sow darkness.
In fact, Satan and his disciples love nothing more than to destroy the witness or the life of a Christ follower. If he cannot physically destroy us, he will then aim to destroy our witness. Turn on the TV, or your computer, your chat, your snap, or any number of potential deadly influences in your life if you doubt the veracity of that statement.
So how do we fight back? How do we withstand the tide and not only stand firm in our faith, but more importantly push forward as we run our race to its completion? Kathryn and I moved to Greenwood over a decade ago, and one of my primary objections in moving was to be grounded in a true community of Christians. As a college basketball coach, I often lived life on the road. My Christian community consisted of showing up most Sundays to hear a sermon, sing a few songs, and then it was back to the grind. One of the primary reasons we chose to settle in Greenwood as opposed to another neighboring town to our farm was because of the community of believers at Westminster.
Additionally about 10 years ago I began to develop a friendship with a much older and slightly wiser farmer down the road from me. We began to share prayer requests, struggles, and praises. About a year later we added a baseball coach at Greenwood High who was considering starting his own private academy for the at-risk young men of the Delta. A few years after that we added another local baseball coach and a young farmer from down the road. We meet once a week at 5:30am for about an hour. Some mornings we barely do anything productive other than drink coffee and offer a word of encouragement for the week. Other mornings we spend in earnest prayer and supplication as we lift each other’s needs up to Christ.
As I look back on the relationships I have built at Westminster, and the group of men that I meet with weekly, I cannot help but visualize the threefold cord that Ecclesiastes describes. We will all be challenged with something beyond our ability to cope at some point in our life. Whether it is mortality, failure at work, failure in the home, addictions, or even the doubting of one’s faith; we will all be challenged in a unique and targeted way by the forces of evil. The easiest way to braid your own threefold cord is simply to ask someone in your church to pray for you, and then ask them if there is something in return that you can pray about for them.
That is how it started with me, and if you feel as though you are out there hanging by a thread, my prayer for you is that you are bold enough to ask someone for help. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and today I am thankful for the friends that God has bestowed upon me here in Greenwood.
PS: It is truly amazing how the Lord lays topics on our hearts. 30 minutes after I wrote this blog post, I received an email from a college friend of mine to inform me that a fraternity brother of ours had committed suicide. This world is broken, and we can rest in the knowledge that we have a Savior who will one day make amends to all the wrongs, and vanquish evil for eternity.