Why it was good for me to drag my tired hind-end to small group last night… What I could have missed.
Small update to yesterday’s complain-y post.
The leader of my small group chose to teach/discuss passion for Jesus, and how His love for us stirs our hearts to love Him, and what that looks like, and how we live that out…
I got to share a story from this past week, where I had and opportunity to show love to someone when I didn’t feel like it. I know that sounds minor, sounds insignificant. But, to me, it was extremely challenging under the circumstances yet I knew it was something God was calling me to do. And the results, the fruit of that, have been wonderful, beyond my hopes.
Later, we worshiped — which is toward the end, and which was really wonderful. And I was grinning during part of worship, as I sang, if nothing else because two of the four songs I chose were so very fitting. I love it when that happens. Occasionally, people will ask the leader and me if we planned out the teaching to match with the worship or vice versa, and we say, “No… that’s the Holy Spirit.”
So, the first song was Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin.
What’s not to love about You
Heaven and earth adore You…
You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us…
But even more fitting was Consuming Fire by Tim Hughes.
Consuming fire, fan into flame
A passion for Your name
Spirit of God, fall in this place
Lord, have Your way
Lord, have Your way with us…
Stir it up in our hearts, Lord
A passion for Your name!
Maybe that doesn’t mean much to y’all… But it was like God saying to me, “See? It’s good of you to be here. And, see?? You hear from me, even when you’re not particularly trying to.”
After “official” worship is over, I continued to play guitar, as I always do, in what my husband calls “covering the environment”. There were small clusters of people, praying for each other. Often, during that time each week, I’ll just strum a chord progression, building it up, then bringing it down… About half of the time, I’ll sing prophetically, usually fairly quietly over the group: Just what I feel is in God’s heart to those gathered, in first person, His voice to His beloved… Among other things, it helps me feel connected with what is going on during ministry time. Since I’m the worship leader, there isn’t usually opportunity for me to pray for others, and only occasionally do others pray for me during that time. I’m totally OK with that. But, if I’m singing over the people, I’m still connected, and that’s good. Last night, I had a prayer rising up in my heart. Honestly, I don’t often vocalize what I call “prayer songs” — things that are on MY heart to God’s. But, not only was it welling up in me to sing, I sang quite loudly, which I don’t usually do. I usually stay in the background, not wanting to make it difficult for one person to hear another’s prayer… I would glance up every few minutes, and all those present were just soaking it in, eyes closed, hands open, receiving, listening, participating in their own hearts, voices occasionally harmonizing with what I sang. It just seemed that what was on my heart was on everyone else’s, too. It was really beautiful.
After the group was over, while most everyone was snacking, I got to talk with a woman… Well, she started to come to “my” small group only a few weeks ago. I could tell she was unsure about the whole thing… I had remembered — from some conversation long ago — that she was from farming country in Illinois. So, when she came to the small group for the first time, I rekindled that conversation and discovered that her son lives in the tiny town — population 1,785 — where my paternal grandmother is living (in a skilled nursing facility, about ten miles from the home of her birth). Again, perhaps that seems inconsequential, but it was another whisper from the heart of God to me, and more importantly, to this other lady, that she is CONNECTED to the Body of Christ, to this particular body of believers… Belonging to His family is important to God. So, I joked with her, “I waved to your son when I went to visit my grandma.” And we talked again about loving the land, and family farms, and being married to men who love the desert. It was good.
Later, after everyone had left, a mom who lives in the multi-generational home where our small group meets… Well, she and her husband have been fostering a child for THREE YEARS. Three years, since the child was only a few weeks old. And now the birth mother’s extended family have finally “won” and this darling child will be going to live with the stranger-family (strangers, though related by blood) permanently in a couple of weeks. HEART-WRENCHING. The whole thing has very much shaken me. But, I hung out with her afterward and we talked about the whole thing, which we do almost every week… And I felt God saying to me, “See? It’s good of you to be here. She needs this. You need this.” And on top of that, she wants to give me the little one’s crib for our new baby. A couple of months ago, a sweet friend re-gifted a different crib to me, that had been given to her, but it’s in dire need of new paint, and has been sitting in my storage room, waiting for me to get motivated. This “new” crib is gorgeous, dark wood, and in excellent condition. I felt both honored that she would give the crib to me… and having it will be a reminder to pray for that family.
And another woman… the matriarch of the home, had earlier overheard the conversation I’d had about the farm and said, “Sit down here. I want to read something to you that I read this morning” and she proceeded to read the whole of Psalm 65 in a translation I’d never heard: The Voice. It was achingly lovely.
9 You spend time on the good earth,
watering and nourishing the networks of the living.
God’s river is full of water!
By preparing the land,
You have provided us grain for nourishment.
10 You are the gentle equalizer: soaking the furrows,
smoothing soil’s ridges,
Softening sun-baked earth with generous showers,
blessing the fruit of the ground.
11 You crown the year with a fruitful harvest;
the paths are worn down by carts overflowing with unstoppable growth.
12 Barren desert pastures yield fruit;
craggy hills are now dressed for celebration.
13 Meadows are clothed with frolicking flocks of lambs;
valleys are covered with a carpet of autumn-harvest grain;
the land shouts and sings in joyous celebration.
She sent me a text this morning, early: “Karen dear… there are songs for you to write in Ps 65 (the Voice). I have the strongest urge to convey that to you I can’t even wait for a polite time to call you.” That made me cry. It was just one more whisper from God’s heart to mine. One more sweet ribbon, tying me to His heart and to His people… And I would have missed that, had I not gone to small group last night!!!
And then, to top the whole thing off, as I got into the car to drive the short distance home, I turned on the Diamondbacks game, and it was the bottom of the ninth, and J.J. Putz was closing it out… We were leading. I got home in time to see that last out being made, on TV. 🙂
And then I pulled out my book and read until I was drowsy, and then went to bed, very satisfied with the day, my heart full to overflowing, deeply content. I felt like God had redeemed the day: turned something that could have been an exhausting drag into something glorious.