Community in a Time of Isolation

At the beginning of 2020 my plans included weekly dinners in our new home using our newly acquired Big Green Egg. (It’s a grill that acts as a grill, smoker, pizza oven, etc.) We were planning homemade sourdough bread and soup dinners and lively conversation with our new neighbors.

Then COVID-19 hit and silence became the norm, few cars traveling, masks to protect us from death. Next came political diatribe about the efficacy of masks and the reality of the virus, and so even more silence erupted in our shutting down because of disagreements. So here we are as the end of the year approaches and there is still physical and emotional silence.

For me, the silence has been most profound, however, from a different source: death itself! Last year, my dear friend, mentor, and source of wisdom passed from his earthly body to a new body and into the very presence of God. I speak of Donald McGilchrist, a long-time Navigator and fountain of wisdom.

I met Donald in 1985 at the start of a movement within the Navigators that focused on pioneers of the gospel to unreached people groups in the U.S. After our first few meetings I asked Donald if I could call him from time to time to see what he would think about how I was reading the Scriptures. I could never have guessed how deep our friendship would go and what a powerful sense of community we would experience, ending with his last week of life, when we spoke frequently about our ideas and hopes for the gospel. In one of our last conversations, he privileged me with the great honor of hosting his memorial service at Glen Eyrie.

Now, many months later, the lessons of our relationship seem much clearer. I was nearly alone in my sense of how and what to do with God’s calling to live and disciple among the lost. God drew me into a community of love, wisdom, sacrifice, and humor with a man who gave himself to me to guide me from danger and undisciplined thinking.

What did it take for me to get this community? I simply asked someone to step into my life and listen and ask questions and to speak truth as needed. I needed wisdom to lead others, wisdom to lead my own life, and wisdom to see the road ahead and recognize the road signs pointing me towards godly action.  

Is it possible to have community when there is physical and emotional isolation? Yes! I have learned I need to have men and women of wisdom in my life for the long haul. Distance is never an obstacle, and my assumptions about their willingness to help should not be an obstacle.

Who is available? Ask and find out. Start with one and over time build a network of a trusted few that you can call, email, text, write, and ask to help you navigate your few days here on earth. I cannot imagine life without such people–they are my community. They shape me every day. 

Next Steps

  • Is there someone a little older whom you suspect shares your vision and has a depth of wisdom? You don’t need to ask them to commit to you, just talk to you. Can you contact them today? If you need a few ideas about how to invite someone, check here.
  • Consider joining us for an online conference. In November, Navigators 20s is hosting an online conference. Guest speakers will include Al Engler, who leads The Navigators Disciplemakers for Life Mission, and Wanda Anderson, a lawyer, pastor, and the Navigators Director of Corporate Affairs and Risk Management. (Read how she connects the core values of The Navigators to the dream and values of Dr. Martin Luther King.)