A guitar, a crib, a dashboard, and a book club (reflections on a year in a small, weekly home group)
The school year is winding down.
Among other things, that means the small group I’ve attended for the last 9 months or so will come to a close, too*.
A few reflections on “my” group this year:
- As a worship leader, I don’t get to pick my group. Each August, I hear chatter between friends, “Whose group are you thinking about going to this year? What night is it? Whose house is it at? Who is the leader? Wanna go together??” That sort of thing. I don’t get to participate in those conversations. I go where I’m assigned. That’s good news and bad news. If there is someone who goes to a group who is a particular friend of mine, it’s totally by coincidence. I’m often assigned to groups that I wouldn’t have personally chosen, for one reason or another. BUT… that also means that, each year, I get to grow closer to a bunch of people who, even if I wouldn’t have chosen them for myself, God has chosen them for me!! He knows what I need, even when I don’t. It seems that, usually, God uses that year’s group to challenge me… God knows that I need stretching and growth in a particular area, and proclaims to me, “Here is your opportunity! And you can’t escape it! Hahahaha!” Yes, I envision God laughing at me like that. He has a funny sense of humor. However, this year, the group I’ve been in has been such… comfort to my heart. Such comfort. It is filled with thoughtful, caring, tender people, whose hearts overflow with love. Usually, during ministry time, toward the end of our time together, I am playing my guitar, covering the environment, praying or singing over the interactions taking place in front of me. In all my past groups, I’d rarely be the recipient of prayer. I’m totally OK with that. But, it has blessed me to tears that virtually every week, someone will come over and lay their hand on my shoulder and quietly speak a prayer of blessing and encouragement over me… I feel un-forgotten.
- A family in my group this year has gone through something I can’t even imagine. It has rent my heart. For the past three years, they have fostered a baby since he was only a few weeks old. Initially, they thought (due to the proclamations of the mother) that they were blood-related to this baby. They didn’t find out until the baby was two, I believe, that he was actually of no blood relation. However, they have loved and cared for him and cherished him as the son of their heart. This past year, a distant blood relation of the child decided that they wanted the boy. And, in what was a blow to all of us, the courts decided in favor of the distant blood relative, rather than in favor of the parents this baby has had for literally his entire life. The mother approached me a few weeks ago… “When he goes to live with his new family, I’d like you to have his crib for your new baby, if you want it.” That killed me. My heart has been so knit to this family through their struggle to keep their little boy… And the crib is REALLY NICE. Really nice. I’m sure they could sell it on Craigslist and recoup some of the money spent. But, they’d rather I have it. They said they’d be honored. Oh, my Lord. *I* am honored. The day their son went to live with his new, permanent family, about a week and a half ago, they brought the crib to my home. So very, very bittersweet. ~sigh~ But that crib will now be a reminder to me of that little boy who, in my estimation, should still be with the parents who raised him for more than three years. It will be a physical reminder to pray for him, far away now… And to pray for the parents whose hearts have been broken and broken and broken over this.
- On a few occasions, our group takes the opportunity to bring food and ministry to various families in need in our local area. The last time was almost two weeks ago. I was with a group of four others. Usually, we have names and addresses and specific people expecting to receive us. This past time, though, we were just sent out with bags of groceries and instructed to just pray about where to go. The group I was in went to an apartment complex. However, after walking around (up and down stairs) for about 30 minutes, I started having contractions and I could feel my ankles swell rapidly. So, a man in the group and I went back to someone’s car to sit while the others finished. This man had had a stroke five years ago and doesn’t walk well, himself. So, we sat in the car and chatted. I asked him all sorts of questions about his past, his stroke, his recovery, his relationships… I kept asking and he kept talking. It was a lovely evening, with cool breezes wafting through the open windows of the vehicle. I kept thinking, “This is such a treasure.” It’s hard to explain, but I had the thought, “Would I normally have 30 minutes to sit down and chat with a 60-something man? No. Would we ever go out to coffee together? No. But is this so valuable, such a blessing to the both of us?? Yes.” Once again, it was like God saying, “I know what you need, I know what he needs, and I’m going to use this little opportunity that wouldn’t arise any other way to knit your hearts together.” And I just kept thinking, “THIS is what being the Body of Christ is about. THIS IS IT. This is Church life. This is what God does.” He brings us into deeper and more sincere relationship, often with people we would not have chosen for ourselves to be our “buddies” but in the end, it turns out to be JUST what we needed. God is smart like that. 🙂
- Lastly, I have been part of a small book club for… five years I think it has been. Our group started out with eight women, all from “my” church. As time has progressed, about half of us no longer go to the same church, but the group has persisted. However, a couple of women have moved out of state, and one more is heading imminently in that direction, and on Saturday, those who remain had a little discussion: “Whom should we invite to join us?” And I was delighted to suggest a woman who is in my small group. I just know she’ll be a good fit for our small group of diverse, thoughtful women who meet every other month to discuss a book which has (as is our goal) “Good Art + Good Message.” We’ve read a great range of fiction and non-fiction, contemporary works and classics, poetry, memoirs, novels, and more. The thing is this: This particular woman whom I offered as a potential member, up to the other ladies… Well, I NEVER would have known her, if it hadn’t been for small group. We’re of much different ages, we don’t typically relate in the same circles of people… We’re just in different walks of life. But, after going to small group with her on Thursday nights, I know she is insightful, humorous, kind, and thinks deeply. I very, very likely wouldn’t have discovered that, had it not been for small group. And I look forward to getting to know her better through the book club. And it’s good for HER, too. We all want to be known. We all want to be wanted. We all need friendship. We all long to be noticed and appreciated…
So, once again, I find myself thankful for my God, who knows what I need — and even what I want — well before I do. And He is kind enough to set me up to “discover” it for myself. He gives me those things, like gifts… And I am sincerely thankful for His care over me.
*My church has small home groups that meet throughout the school year, and then summers typically see a variety of special classes or Bible studies that last 2-8 weeks
Posted on May 14, 2013, in Babies, Books I'm Reading, Christian Living, Christianity, Encouragement, Fostering, Friendships, Furniture, God/Christianity/Church, Guitar, Introspective Musings, Missions and ministry, Relationship, Vineyard Phoenix, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.