by Miranda Lehman Posted Apr 29, 2020
There’s never a dull moment when you live in a house of 16 people and next door to 14 more. At the Forge, we have the opportunity to live in a close-knit community for eight months as we learn more about who God is and who He has made us to be. It is incredible to see what the Lord has done in each of our hearts as we’ve gotten to do life alongside one another. One of the most impactful lessons I have learned is the importance of living in and relying on community.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
When we [Forge Students] arrived in August, we didn’t know how to deeply appreciate one another’s differences, how to work together as a team, or how to learn from one another’s gifts. Slowly, but surely, we became family. We began to understand that we were not all a “foot” but rather, we all had a different role in the body of Christ. It took hard conversations, trips all over the U.S., and many hours under the same roof, but the Lord bonded us in a way that will change the way we live in community for the rest of our lives.
Like everyone around the world, our lives have changed drastically in the last six weeks. When we landed from Israel at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on March 13th, we all felt as though we entered a very different world than the one we had left just 13 days earlier. There was talk of colleges shutting down and international travel being banned, but we didn’t necessarily think it would affect the Forge. But sure enough, after a week of quarantine, we were told that we would have to move out of our apartments and begin doing class virtually.
None of us had a clue how to use Zoom, but we were all hopeful that although we couldn’t all gather together, our community would be closer than ever. We trusted that God knew when we moved in on August 25th, we would be packing up one month early. We trusted that God knew when we had covenant meetings until two in the morning, we would weep as we said our goodbyes on March 22nd. God knew during the trips, hangtimes, and family dinners that our last few weeks would be spent looking at each other on a screen in boxes as tiny as postage stamps.
Throughout the last four weeks, we learned to have class discussions and even present our Israel ebenezers on Zoom. Do we wish we could have been sitting shoulder to shoulder in the Rap room as we did each of those classes? Of course. Did we learn more about giving up control and pursuing community from a distance because of the current situation? Absolutely.
One phrase we learned in Israel that has stuck with each of us in this wild time is “God can and God cares.” Simple, powerful, and true. It has reminded us, time and time again, that God sees us in this season. He has not abandoned us and He can certainly continue to transform our lives through community—even from hundreds of miles away.
We all went back home. Home to childhood bedrooms, our siblings, our parents. We got launched back into the “real world” quite a bit sooner than we had anticipated. But this meant that we had a unique opportunity to still be in the Forge but living in the real world. We woke up, spent hours in virtual class, and then were able to walk downstairs to the kitchen table and tell our families about the Truth we were learning. We stared at our screens, filled with faces that represented a new season of life, while the lime green childhood walls of our bedrooms lingered behind us. It was a visual that while we might be living in the places where we had fallen prey to sin, hurt, or temptation in the past, we didn’t have to repeat history. We are able to rely on our community for accountability, confession, and exhortation.
On our last day as a Forge class, we logged onto Zoom for graduation. We watched highlight videos, declared our identity statements, and were covered in encouraging words from our directors and professors. Towards the end of the ceremony, most of us had tears filling our eyes but we were still smiling ear to ear. Our year in the Forge looked different than any of us had predicted, but we came out eight months later with a deeper understanding of scripture, 29 new Forge siblings, and confidence that God had created us in His image for His good works. And man, we’re so grateful we got to do it together.