Monday, July 24, 2006

What’s missing?

I've been missing! Thanks to so many who have e-mailed to say hi during my absence. Part of my silence has been the desire to honor the Last Words, previously posted on July 12th. What subject matter does a blogger address following such an important post? Comedic? A Meme? A journal entry of the greatness of summer spent up at the Lake? I think not! At this time, 50 of you have posted a comment that this dear family can view. They are expressed deep gratitude and thankfulness for your willingness to pray for them, listen to their son's Last Words, and take them into your heart. You have been such a blessing to them....and to me.

The life and death of Stephen Paul Johnson has touched me in a way I never imagined. Although I did not know him, I feel like I know his struggle and his parent's pain. What mom wouldn't? Furthermore, if you have a child that is a prodigal still, this shakes you to the core. It shakes your hope, it rocks your fortitude, it challenges your will. There is something of great value when these grieving parents wish to share the depth of their loss--to speak the pain for the glory of God---that calms my spirit. Some time ago, I wrote the following piece for our church as we offered a Community Care Class:

What's Missing

Neatly dressed, she sits in the back of the church each Sunday morning, quietly smiling when others greet her. She enjoys the upbeat music, the meaningful drama and listens with a hungry heart as the Pastor speaks of the love of Christ. Her wounds are not visible, but “love” has cost her greatly.

His presence is known immediately, he is a well-dressed businessman who carries himself with confidence. As he walks down the center aisle to find the seat he has chosen, his mind is racing: legal problems are pressing, customers are demanding and employees are grumbling. Someone always needs something from him--he fears losing control and is full of anger…but maintains a confident smile while firmly shaking hands with those nearby.

Several people have asked her “How are you?” before she even takes her seat. She takes a deep breath and replies, “Great!” intentionally failing to mention that her spirit is broken. She is battling with another bout of depression, her husband still has not found a job, and their teen-aged son is in trouble with the law.

Divorcee was never a label she imagined for herself. It is difficult for her to walk through the church doors; her life has changed so much since her husband left. Her children are reeling, her heart is aching, and her responsibilities are overwhelming.

What’s missing? Within the family of God, on any given Sunday morning, people within the church are hurting. Too often, when pain arrives at the doorstep of our life, we step over it, leaving it behind, feeling shame when we are no longer able to hide it. And yet, as Christians, we have the unique advantage of bringing our sorrows to God through prayer and through the body of Christ (the church), from which, God has divinely designed that we can receive comfort and care, healing and hope.

Authentic community--this is the vision that Woodridge Community Care aspires to. Just as exposing one’s pain requires a risk, authentic caring requires a sacrifice: a sacrifice of self, of obedience, and of love. While the people in this article are not real, their silent pain is. Divorce, death, depression, and suffering are real problems for everyone. As someone once stated, “The question is not if a crisis will come, but when!”

Firmly convinced that God’s divine plan for authentic community works, Woodridge Community Care is offering an interactive, equipping study by H. Norman Wright, Crisis Care: Hope for the Hurting. Register online—join us as we discover tangible ways to care for those experiencing pain. Don’t miss the very real blessings that occur when we become conduits of God’s love to those who are hurting.

While I have been taking a self-imposed absence from blog-dom, what hasn't been missing this past week are those of you who were willing to be a conduit of God's love to a family in deep pain. Thank you for sacrificing your time to post and your time to pray. Your comments have shown each person who reads them your willingness to be obedient, to share God's love and compassion to a family in need. It seems that I have witnessed the very thing I casually wrote would happen. Something signficant happened: when Christians risk sharing their pain and others in the Body respond in obedience--it is there that we find God's presence! THIS bolsters my faith, energizes my perseverance, and revitalizes my determination. When God is at the center of our dreams, our hopes, and our deepest desires--He makes all things good. THIS is a Rock-solid foundation to stand on while we stand in the gap for our loved ones. No need to be shaken; God provides "all things at all times....." and makes all things good. That fact escaped this blogger for a few days, still God reminded me of His certainty this week as I carried the life and death of Stephen Paul Johnson in my heart these past days. He is faithful! I can be confident in His promise to finish the work He began in the life of Stephen, in the life of my prodigal, in the life of you and me!

No matter what you face today-- with confidence, proclaim with me, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100: 5

Don't miss His assurance for even one day!


Dawn said...

Thank you. I love the words you wrote for your church. They are very convicting and I plan to share them with my pastor, who has begun to speak of us more often of just such things.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

It is so true. Each Sunday so many are sitting in the seats, alone and burdened. Thanks you for your words.

I am glad you are back. good for you for tending to your soul and taking the break you needed.

Morning Glory said...

Bless you as you've carried this burden. I really like the term "authentic community".

I'm glad you're back and that you had a good break.

MugwumpMom said...

Wow, those words are so powerful. It's so true. We are all one body and God has given each to the other to bring His love and healing, words of life and encouragement. Thank you for sharing yours.
I missed you and continued to pray for you and the family while you were gone. And I'm glad you're back.
Hope you have a peacefilled evening.


C. H. Green said...

Wonderful post as always. We've misse you.