Monday, March 19, 2012

It our living room

Oklahoma has long since been in a drought and this year was looking pretty predictable for a third round of scorching heat and parched land. In fact it was so dry in the Midwest that huge dark gaps in the earth could be seen as if to beg with an open mouth from the heavens for relief.

Life is like a series of seasons and when trouble and pain come, sometimes its like a horrible drought and a storm is a welcome sight rather than a dreadful presence. Last night, it rained in our living room with a sweet presence of the Lord in worship.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, I can explain. For the last few weeks it's been one thing after another for many in our gatherings. The threat of financial collapse and the strain of "what if" a breakthrough doesn't come. Physical illness. Loss of loved ones and the worry of their troubles. Disappointment, doubt, and discouragement have seemed like that hot sun boiling your faith, parching your hope, and searing your joy.

Last night it was a quiet gathering. It'd been four weeks since we'd been able to gather and all of us were really burdened but we started singing. As broken humility grew a bit more in our hearts, His gentle way of letting us sense His loving presence swelled like rain filling up the cracks of dry ground. Soon we were relaxed, filled with peace and a sense of just how big God is, just how much we can trust Him, and just how much we are loved.

House church is like that and sometimes it's not. Other times someone shares an encouraging testimony someone else needed to hear or a teaching that brings repentance or a prophetic word during prayer that confirms direction. We don't have an agenda of our own and often I sometimes feel like a little kid who just shows up to a meeting rather than an accomplished singer, teacher, cook or whatever we think we have to be to gather for "church." We let His agenda dictate. Interventions, songs, prayers, teachings. Somehow, He has His way and we all leave knowing we're the better for meeting together.

As the rain drenches the ground outside today, I fondly think of last night like someone who remembers an unforgettable moment with a loved one. Thanks Jesus. We needed that. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

And Then She Moved....

God is amazing and the stories we tell about the things He does always encourage others. So sit back and read on. This is a good one!

Last May a woman moved to our neighborhood. From a bad marital situation, she settled here and came to join our meetings after she decided to totally put herself and her children in God's hands. She immediately began to change. From depressed, discouraged, and worried she began to have hope, peace, and joy in the midst of tough circumstances.

I'll never forget when she came up the driveway that first day in tears.
"Um...are you guys...ministers or something?"

I almost froze right there with bags of groceries in my hands. How do I answer that question? I decided to wing it.

"Sort of. What's up?"

From that moment God put her and her children in our hearts. They were knitted into the beautiful fabric of God's family. We watched God provide a job for her, help her get to work, work through issues from the past and face issues at the present. We learned to step back, give her space and almost from the beginning, we watched her learn to hear God's voice for herself.

I can't even begin to tell you what we all learned from her and her children. She took a chance on us and we took a chance on her. It was amazing to see them all grow and we were right there beside her when God suddenly presented a detour.

It seems at the time she encountered Christ, her estranged husband had too. They hadn't spoken in eight months and she just happened to call him for some information she needed when he told her he'd gotten saved and God was changing his life. "Do you know what it's like to have a support system of people who actually care about you?" he said to her. She told me it was so strange because she did know and here he was sharing the same experience she'd had... hundreds of miles apart.

They've committed to be in God's house, get counseling and stick it out. It's not going to be easy but at least now, they've got His grace on their side.

So, Sunday morning we bid them farewell. An old marriage made new. A new home. A new family by God's grace. "Behold if any man is in Christ, old things are passed away and all things become new."

That's the scripture the Lord gave us. She cried, I held it together but after she left I was sad. A part of me...that wasn't me but Christ, just drove off. I thought about not seeing her anymore in our meetings. Not taking her to work and laughing about our crazy lives. Not babysitting her kids.

Yeah. It's kind of sad but sweet too. Get to know someone in your church. Take a gamble on someone. Risk being hurt. Actually consider them family. Enjoy the happiness of seeing someone you barely know, grow in Christ and come to love you.

It's fun. I swear.