Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When God's Love IS the Church

Recently I read a book called “The Shack.” The story centers on a man named Mack and a weekend he spends with God, manifest as the Trinity. Without giving the plotline away, or even endorsing the book for that matter, [another post, coming up] I wanted to share a part of the book that touched me in light of my recent health struggles. Mack is talking with Jesus about the church, to which Jesus has just referred as “the woman I’m in love with.”
Mack paused, searching for the right words. “You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m pretty sure I haven’t met her.” He turned away slightly. “She’s not the place I go to on Sundays,” Mack said more to himself, unsure if that was safe to say out loud.
Mack, not unlike a lot of people – churched or unchurched – hasn’t seen love in action that is in keeping with the Scriptures’ examples of what the church should be. So widespread is this problem that Christian band Casting Crowns even has a song called “If We Are the Body,” begging the questions:

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way

But I have no question in my mind whether God’s Spirit is moving at our church. Over the years, we have seen prayer vigils for the gravely ill, outreach to families who’ve lost children, and so much more. And yet, while we see these things and know that our family is one ruled by Love – that is, Christ himself – it doesn’t seem to make as deep of an impact until one experiences it personally.

From the very beginning of our ordeal I called out to my church family, knowing I could count on our congregation. Thinking my pain was related to nerves, I asked for a ride to and from my chiropractor. And within a short time I received “feet,” or wheels rather, that were willing to go with me.

Later, after being rushed to the hospital via ambulance, our church secretary worked tirelessly as our mouth and ears, communicating our needs to the body on a regular basis. In response to these reports, we had an amazing fleet of prayer warriors calling to the throne for us, as well as countless “angels” who voluntarily cared for Lil Guy at hours during which most of us prefer to sleep. Many of said “angels” volunteered on multiple nights, too. These actions didn’t just minister to us, but to so many working at the hospital as well.

But it didn’t stop there. Many of our congregation prepared meals for us upon my release from the hospital. Others helped around the house while I was incapacitated. Still others transported me to and from doctor visits. A few took the older kids on playdates, which provided a break from their stress and was so invaluable for them!

Financially – I can’t even begin to write about this without tearing up – despite massive write-offs from a hospital program, we still wound up with several sizeable bills, not to mention the loss of Charlie Brown’s wages as he took time off. The generous donations from the people of our church to help offset these shortfalls have totaled in the thousands! Added to it was an unexpected, rather significant contribution from the church of Christ in Craig. God’s love and provision have been proven to us over and over throughout this trial, and mostly through the actions of His people.

In an e-mail I sent to our church in June, I wrote the following:

Throughout this whole ordeal I kept reflecting on Philippians 4:13, and I now have a new take on this special verse. You all were [are] the body of Christ – his hands to prepare meals and his feet to run errands, his ears to listen, his shoulders to lean upon and find comfort, and so much more. Now when I read, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” I think of Christ in totality, not just the Savior who died for me but the people who make up his body here on earth today as well.

When Charlie Brown and I think about the church’s role during this entire experience, the love and support is overwhelming. We are forever grateful. For ALL of it. Words cannot express the depth of our thanks for the help we have received.

We hope that we are able to return the favor several times over to our brothers in sisters in the future. Moreover, we plan on sharing our story with the Macks in our lives so they may see that God’s Love is working right here in under our very noses.

© 2009 Ramblings of a Red-Headed Step-Child. All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. So tell me, should I read this as a fairly rejuvenated convert/cradle Catholic seeking God?