I have the privilege of working with some of the godliest women in our congregation. The seasoned saints that sit in our church each Sunday are a treasure. Their collective wisdom, derived from walking closely with the Lord through unique experiences, provides such rich material from which to give care to hurting women.
One reader of Help[H]er wrote,
Shepherdesses must be very special people. I’m convinced that I would not be able to do such a demanding task…The women you described must be spiritual giants.
I agree! Although the shepherdesses would probably cringe to hear that. So, it is my pleasure to encourage them to believe God has graciously equipped them with every good gift and they are competent for one another care (2 Tim. 3:17).
And so are you…
When it comes to He Who Must Not Be Named, most of us know full well what not to do by now—but what can we do to encourage one another as we go about our quiet days at home? It’s not a difficult reach to guess how disconnected and unmotivated we might feel without regular interaction, and especially without communal worship and fellowship. And it doesn’t take a PhD in Social Psychology to know many of us may be diagnosed with a raging case of the empties (if not the actual Coronavirus) before the Covid-wave passes.
Knowing I’m about to have a lot of time on my hands, I’m looking for ideas for those quiet midday Tuesdays when it’s going to be tempting to find myself hollowing out to a sneaky and unintended Netflix binge or playing the day’s 10th round of that addictive phone game. I’d love to make some choices that edify Christ, myself as a Christ-follower, my family whom I want to love well, and my friends and neighbors—believers and non-believers alike—both over the fence and over the WiFi.
With that in mind, here are a few ways for you/me/us to consider the lonely, and expand the definition of who that could be and what that could look like.
Say hello to your neighbors. Knock on a front door and tell them you just wanted to see their face and ask if they needed anything…
Years ago, a friend of mine was convinced that air conditioning was destroying the fabric of American community in the south. I thought he was over-reaching and I pushed back against his claim. But he noted that before air conditioning, at the end of the day, people were forced to spend their evenings taking walks or sitting on their front porches. The heat festering in the house simply drove them outside. They couldn’t avoid their neighbors. Today, many of us drive home, pull into our garages and close the automatic door behind us, hoping to only engage with the people with whom we cohabitate.
Maybe my friend’s theory about AC wasn’t that over-reaching.
We like our space, our TV shows (I mean, I live alone and have three TVs…why?), and our agenda. But, what’s so wrong with all of that? I think the bigger question is: what does our obsession “having it our way” cost us?
Stephen M. Lukes wrote, “Individualism can be described in terms of a kind of moderate selfishness that disposes humans to be concerned only with their own small circle of family and friends.” That definition stands in stark contrast to Philippians 2’s mandate to count others more significant than ourselves (2:3-4). Like you, I imagine, my love has a pecking order. It’s a fact that I love my close friends and family members more than a complete stranger. I’d rather be given a short list of people that I’m required to love and build into, than an open expectation that I’m supposed to die to my own agenda and show mercy to virtually anyone who crosses my path…
In my mother’s bedroom is an antique armoire. Its open doors reveal folded quilts, carefully stacked, and hinting at their kaleidoscope of pattern and color. As beautiful as they are sitting on the shelf, nothing compares to the glory that appears when each one is taken down and spread out on the bed, displaying the stitches and handiwork that went into creating them. I love hearing their stories: the feed sack cloth, the shirt scraps, this one that came from an Easter dress and that one made from a soft velvet. The women, over years and generations, gathered together to piece and sew and form these bits of fabric into something more wonderful in their combining than was possible in their separate existence.
When I think of my life in the community that is the body of Christ, I think of these quilts. God, the master creator and craftsman, has fashioned us— his covenant people— into a whole that is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Each of us brings our own beauty, our own personality, our own gifts, and yes— our own quirks, sins, and faults. Just as the quilt maker trims and shapes each piece for its intended use, so does God fit us for use in his kingdom. As a member of this kingdom community called “the church,” I am called with a purpose, I am called to be present, and I am called to pray.
Called with a Purpose
Calling can be a scary concept to ponder and an even harder one to figure out. We like to make things complicated, as if God has some secret plan for our lives that we just need to decipher. Thankfully, God has made it abundantly clear in his word. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Love God. Love my neighbor. But where? And how? And what does this look like?…