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The Work of Waiting

Since returning from his sabbatical last fall, my pastor has been encouraging our church family to cultivate times of silence and solitude to be with the Lord. Our staff team has put this into action by taking a monthly day of prayer and reflection. Once each month, we devote what would normally be a workday to intentionally spending time resting with the Lord.

When we first started this practice, I pondered what I could do to set this day apart. I decided to bake bread, knowing that doing so would help me to slow down and enjoy this gift of a day. I’ve tried a few different recipes now, some with more success than others. I recently received a new cookbook that included a “No-Knead” bread recipe, and I looked forward to trying it. This recipe seemed to offer all the goodness of bread-making with barely any hands-on effort or mess. “Just let time do the work!” the recipe boasted.

Waiting is Work

I prepped the dough the night before, since it would need 12-18 hours to rise. As the next morning dawned and I anxiously peaked at the dough (that still had hours to go), I was struck by an unwelcome reminder: waiting is work. Yes, yeast and time were doing the hard work of fermentation to make my bread dough rise, but that didn’t free me from work of my own. I had to manage my patience, wrestle with my inability to control the speed or quality of the proof, resist the temptation to just throw out the dough when I knew the chilly air of my apartment was hindering its rise. I also couldn’t just stare at the bowl of dough all day— I needed to devote my attention to other life-and-rest-giving pursuits so that I wouldn’t squander this precious day…

Three Ways to Love Other Churches

Several times each year, our church has its Sunday evening worship service with other area churches. Before the service, we greet old friends in the parking lot and squeeze together in the quickly-filling sanctuary. Meeting in a place that a recent study called “the most post-Christian city in America” our combined assembly is not particularly large, but it is always immensely encouraging.

Week-by-week, vastly outnumbered by our avowedly-secular neighbors, our individual churches can sometimes seem like minor oddities. But, every few months, for two hours on a Sunday evening, these scattered congregations gather. We sing together, pray together, confess our faith together, receive the Word together, and fellowship together. Together, we affirm that, though each local church may appear weak and solitary, we have never been—and will never be!—alone.

In the book of Acts, when Luke reports on the earliest spread of the gospel, he describes it as the growth of a single church: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Congregations assembled for worship in various locations in Judea and Galilee and Samaria. They were unique groups of specific people under the care of particular elders. But, seen together through the lens of Christ’s great redeeming work, they were “the church.”

In our local congregations, we are not just a few or a few hundred; we are part of something much, much bigger. We are part of the church…

The Word and One Another Care

emember one of the first times I helped someone journey through the pain, suffering, and shame that is associated with abuse. What happened to my sweet, young friend was awful—but as common as abuse is, her experience was unique to her. So, I did everything I could think of to prepare in order to help her. I read books. I looked up articles. I sought the wisdom of those who had spent way more time counseling the victims of this dreadful sin than I. And yet, when it came time to actually speak with her, the Lord ever so gently redirected me back to His all sufficient word. The passages the Holy Spirit brought to my mind did not deal directly with abuse, however God’s words did not go out to my friend and come back void. His word did all He intended it to do (Isa. 55:11).

Recently, I heard Nancy Guthrie speak at a conference. She said she was on a mission to bring the Bible back to Bible Study. Similarly, I am on a mission to bring Scripture back to one another care. Suffering originated in the Fall, so all of life’s problems from that point forward are, at their root, matters which highlight our broken relationship with God.[1]

Scripture Shapes One Another Care

Caregiving in the context of the local church is the personal ministry of the word. It is bringing God’s truth, God’s promises, and God’s commands to bear on life’s problems (2 Pet. 1:3). It is God’s word that compels the Christian walk. It is knowing Him and His ways that propels us on the path that He ordains. But what exactly does that look like for a caregiver?

Well, the responsibilities of a woman in the church who helps women in crisis can be found in the passages Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the office of elder. I just made a bunch of you itchy by associating women helpers in the church with the office gifts, didn’t I? Bear with me a moment…

There are numerous commands in the New Testament for both men and women in the church to “imitate their leaders” (2 Thess. 3:7, 9; Phil. 3:17, 4:9; 1 Cor. 4:16; Heb. 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3).

A Whole Lot of Mothering Going On

While this post is somewhat about motherhood, it’s more about mothering. And while I will be talking about my perspective as a mother, I hope there is something here that will encourage you— whether your mothering is in the biological realm, the spiritual realm, or both. To embrace our God-given design as lifegivers is a joyful expression of who we were created to be.

I’m a mother of five and a grandmother of eight. I’m fortunate that my own mother was able to come stay with us when a new baby arrived. Having her there to help in all sorts of ways made those first crazy days survivable. As terrifying as it was to bring that new little person home from the hospital, it was nothing compared to watching Mom drive away and knowing I was now on my own. When my own daughter began having children, I couldn’t get that airplane ticket fast enough. Every passenger between Houston and Nashville knew that I was going to meet my newest grandbaby! From my experience of being both on the receiving and the giving end of this special kind of caretaking, I can’t help notice some similarities with our role as spiritual mothers as well.

Eat, Eat!

We all know the intensity of a newborn’s cry for food. Eating is serious business! But a new mama needs to eat as well. Remember that early fog? When you feel like you just ran a race and want nothing more than to sleep, unless that something more is food? Labor and delivery were only the beginning of this marathon! Having mom there to shop and cook and do the dishes and make all our favorite meals was more than just help: it was nourishment for our weary, hungry souls. The last thing on my mind when I was a gazillion-weeks pregnant was making things look pretty, yet here Mom was: putting the jam in a pretty dish, folding napkins, and making our time around the table a celebration.

When my own house was full of little ones, my older children knew the best part of having a new baby was the meals from our church friends. Every night was like Christmas as these dear saints blessed us with dinner (usually with plenty of leftovers!). I will never forget the morning that Miss April brought over a platter of freshly fried chicken. I don’t remember why she was there at 10 AM, but I do remember that those drumsticks didn’t make it to dinnertime!  After spending a week with my daughter last month, I was reminded how much hungry kids can eat. What fun to bake and cook for a crowd again!

If you are in a spiritual mothering relationship, you know that one of the best ways to care for your daughter is through the word of God. It is her food and she needs to eat. Sometimes we model that by showing her what a beautiful feast looks like: a specially prepared Bible study or devotion, a lesson from our own life that we can share. Sometimes we show up with that “emergency meal” and remind her that no Christian can survive on a starvation diet…

For Every Woman on Mother’s Day

KATIE POLSKI|CONTRIBUTOR

When I was about twelve, I was asked to help with a special assignment at our church on Mother’s Day. As each mother entered, I was told to hand them a pink carnation and say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I distinctly remember my follow-up question: How will I know who is a mother?

These kinds of gestures are certainly thoughtful and meant to be celebratory, but, oh, how narrow-minded we can be on this holiday! As a believer in Jesus, be encouraged this Mother’s Day not for the reasons the world labels it as “happy,” but find joy in the precious words of Jesus that bless and exhort each who are uniquely touched by the emotions that accompany this particular day.

For Those Who Have Lost A Child

“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38)

You likely enter Mother’s Day with empty hands and a longing heart. Whether it’s because of a miscarriage, disease, or other tribulation, there are so many tender emotions tied to Mother’s Day because of layered grief. Dear woman, be encouraged by the depth and width of the love of Jesus. There is no hardship or suffering that is great enough or powerful enough to separate us from the love of Jesus. It’s because of this immeasurable love that we need not be consumed by grief or bitterness. It’s because of this immeasurable love that you put one foot in front of the other, still loving those whom God has put in your midst. You are embraced by the powerful love of Christ, and nothing can loosen His grip.

For Those Who Long for Children..