At every turn this week I have been reminded about “The Body”…this physical body, this spiritual body (the body of Chrsit on earth). We were in Ok City where our children had thier national basketball tournament…what a week! I think we saw over 30 basketball games (my body knows we did). Bleachers are not condusive to good backs, I’ve learned. I saw teams that worked together and teams that didn’t. The wins and losses were determined by how well they understood and implemented this necessary ingredient of the game. It was a great reminder to me. It reminded me of this body of Christ on earth. How well am I working with the others in the body of Christ? What part am I playing? I have THE divine coach who can by fully trusted. He leads to victory when I implement his plays. He even gives the strength and skill. I just have to be willing to trust. WOW. Ok, I’m convicted!
We had some physical reminders of the body. I saw such strength and skill displayed on the courts. Then our youngest, Brooke, became sick. Then my back hurt etc…) Every day that our body functions optimally is a miracle and reminder of our great creator.
The other reminder came through experiencing an overwhelming surprise. While I was out of town, several people (you know who you are) came to our recently purchased house, and stripped wallpaper. Have any of you ever done this? I know what a sacrifice of time and energy this was for them. I walked into the house and stopped. My mouth fell to my knees and I started crying like a baby! I was reminded of the love in the body of Christ; how it feels; what it looks like. Love is so compelling. It is a motivator like no other; it forms a bond that cannot be broken.
God knew that we could relate to the analogy of the body. We are reminded every day of our own strengths and weaknesses. What better way to learn our part in His great big picture. We’re asked to trust Him. He gives us everything we need to play our part.
Let’s get the “playbook” and get moving. We have a game to win!
I was in the grocery store yesterday and quite overwhelmed with thoughts of my own…thoughts like-“I should be more organized-I’m in Walmart without a list!…Am I crazy?” “Is this the best price on fruit?” You get my drift, general grocery store thoughts. We just closed on the house an hour earlier and I was relishing in moments of sheer thankfulness at how God answered prayer…feeling so blessed, but definitley in my own world. I had a running list going in my mind on what ingredients I would need for vegetable soup. I picked up a gallon of green beans (yes, I did say gallon) when I heard this sweet voice say “Looks like you will be feeding a lot of people”. I explained that I had five children who are hearty eaters. At that statement the eyes of this 80 year old lady became a mirror of her heart. “I had five kids too” she commented. In the isle of Walmart with people buzzing past us in a hurry, I stopped my “clock and lists” and had a precious unexpected encounter. We spent 15 minutes getting to know each other. I listened and learned about her love of sixty+ years. He passed away 2 years ago. She thought she wouldn’t make it…but she is making it, one day at a time. Her oldest son died of cancer. She has four other children who “take great care of her.” She is so proud of the love and care she gets from them. She didn’t mention how much they made or how “accomplished” they are in any given field. She spoke plainly of their kindness and care for her. I mentioned that she must be a wonderful mother that now benefits from her time invested in her family. She smiled. I could almost see video of memories pass through her mind. She has many things to share. I left her with a way to reach me. She thanked me for being so nice and said she just might call when she needs someone to talk to. I hope she does. Her advice to me before she left…”you go take care of those precious kids…love them…you won’t ever regret that”. I left thinking about what a beautiful perpective she gave me. I was so glad to make this “walmart friend” and once again wondered how much I miss in the business of my time-sensitive world. I could’ve been polite without stopping for 15 minutes to really listen. I would’ve missed a huge blessing. This encounter was very unexpected for me, but I know it wasn’t unexpected at all to the God who planned it! There are no coincedences with Him. I hope I get to be an unexpected encounter for someone! If we’re looking for opportunity, we just might find it.
All of my photo albums are in storage during this transition time, but I don’t even need them to see the faces of my babies. Today I’m seeing the face of my third little one. From the beginning, I could see this sweet-faced boy interested in all the things going on around him; taking it in, learning from it. He loved to sing and make us laugh. His favorite song was ‘I Will Praise Him”. When he got to the line “…give him glory all ye people”, it came out something like,”all ye roly-poly people”. We would roll alright…right out of our seats laughing at him, and then he would laugh at himself. He went from that sweet stage to a stage of funny phrases, like calling an El Camino car a ‘cappucino’. The great thing about all of this is that he would laugh at himself. Jacob is 13 years old today. I can’t believe it. He’s such a deep thinker; such a man in so many ways. He has such a way of knowing just what needs to happen in any given situation. Just yesterday he said to me , “Mom, it’ll be alright, you’ll see”. We stopped for a special birthday breakfast and as he prayed “Lord, help us to be serene through the diffuculties in life”, I had to fight back this huge lump in my throat. He brings a sense of balance to this family. He has eyes to see what others miss and explain a perspective that gives refreshment in life. Some people have their theories of “middle” children. If Jake is any indication of those theories, all comments would be positive. The Lord knew that we needed him. He’s a great friend, to young and old. I’m so proud that I get to be his mom.
Our family of seven is in temporary housing (until the end of the month)and we’re desperately looking for a permanent dwelling. I use the word ‘desperate’ because at the end of the day(s), that is the exact feeling that this timetable has conjured up within me. It’s almost as if a casual stroll in the park suddenly turned into a desperate race. The calendar began chasing me down and I responded in a frenzied fashion, failing to notice that God has his eye on the clock. While house-hunting, driving around town… something happened. David (my husband) and I were talking about our upcoming services for Sunday. The highlighted passage is John 15, where Jesus basically debriefs his followers about the persecution that will take place. Well, who likes that topic? I’m guessing that fear was screaming thoughts into the minds of the listeners as he was speaking. Avoiding persecution and uncomfortable situations seems almost second nature, an innate ability that we all possess. We’re pretty good at defending ourselves. Yet, there it is in black and white…those that follow Christ will suffer. Instead of a pep-talk on “how to defend yourself”, Jesus gives a command to love each other and tells them about the gift of the Comforter. How do I process that???
In preparation for Sunday, we were able to get some literature from Voice of Martyrs (a ministry that focuses on the persecuted church around the world). I flipped open the VOM magazine and started reading…7 years imprisonment for sharing the gospel, young husband/father martyred by Muslims for sharing his faith, widowed mother of two still rejoicing, even in her pain, that the gospel was shared. My “house-hunting” dilemma suddenly seemed quite trivial. I was face to face with my immature reaction to my situation. No, I don’t have the house question answered. We are still waiting. Thankfully, I am not waiting on word from the authorities to know if my husband is still alive…I am free to share the good news of life with Christ and not be afraid…I am blessed beyond measure, am I not? I guess all in all, I gained a little perspective. I really want to hang onto this. Jesus commanded us to love one another in John 15:17. Am I looking for ways to love? Or am I too preoccupied with myself? The persecuted get to experience the Comforter (vs 26), and bear witness that they are one of His disciples (vs 27). This amazing display of Christ-likeness is exactly what I read in the words from the Christians that are in the “thick of it” around the world. Their responses were embedded with courage, thankfulness, trust, selflessness. My sentiments are with Sara Groves (“I Saw What I Saw”) as she sings “your pain has changed me, your dream inspired, your face a memory, your hope a fire, your courage asks me what I am made of, what I’m afraid of and what I know of love, what I know of God? WOW! How have I reacted to my little persecutions? I am still dealing with my petty inconveniences…like house hunting (which in reality is a blessing). I desire to escape the stagnant world of selfishness and gain Gods fresh perspective of a life of selflessness. I needed this rest stop to gain a little perspective on what’s really important (ie..my house and my comforts are NOT the center of the universe). I hope you’re encouraged to take a deep breath with me…to stop and pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. They pray for us. They know our lives of ease can be a breeding ground for shallowness. Blessings until next time…