April 28, 2016

Look What God Has Wrought!

It is in the shelter of each other that people live. -Irish Proverb

So, this was a happy time.  This was our Bible study group (not all pictured) coming together to throw a surprise party in celebration of all our friend Sammi has meant to us.  

She's going away for work and school and doing crazy awesome cool adult stuff, but we'll miss her like crazy, so we combined a bunch of her favorite things and surprised her with a party, had a sleep over, did home church together, and then spent the most amazingly relaxing afternoon letting go of our cares and just existing together -- free to be young.  Not sure what that looks like to you, but to us that's having deep conversations on the deck, doing trick shots with a frisbee, riding excitedly down the hill in a wagon, raking up sticks, doing cartwheels, or just laying in the grass and enjoying the sunshine.

Post party weekend, Emma commented that we were not just her best friends, but family.  family.  

We may look confident and put together here (let's be honest -- we look really good ;), but I got to thinking about this group and I was struck by the reality of how crazy it is that this seemingly random group of souls are even friends, let alone family -- children and heirs!  We clean up good, but we've got issues.

We've got work stress.  We've got baggage from past relationships. We've got consequences for past actions.  We've got depression.  We've got eating disorders.  We've got bitterness.  We've got jealousy.  We've got addictions.  We've got masks.  We've got pride.  We've got rebellion.  We've got school stress.  We've got lies.  We believe lies.  We're lazy.  We whine.

But GOD. . .

Somehow, in this miracle that is redemption, we are changing and growing.  Like iron sharpening iron as we bump into each other and make mistakes, God is shaping us all to look more like his son Jesus Christ.  We've still got those issues, but when I look at our group now I see proof of God's love.  I see 1 John 4: 7-12, 18-21(emphasis added)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. . .
 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
 We're learning to care for and shelter one another.  We're learning to love our brother because we love God, because He first loved us!

Now when I look at this conglomerate of humans from all over the geographical area (and 8 different churches) I see how we're changing and growing.  I see what God is doing -- making a people for himself.  

A people who strives for unity.  A people who forgives.  A people who prays.  A people who builds up.  A people who is honest.  A people who shares God's gospel.  A people who sacrifices.  A people who gives.  A people who serves.  A people who denies the world and lives holy.  A people who asks for help.  A people who discerns.  A people who tries to understand.  A people who rejoices.  A people who does hard things because God. Is. Worth. It.  A people who heals.  A people who shelters.

Our Bible study has always been a living organism, but seeing the growing pains and the work of the Holy Spirit in just the last 4 months has been so encouraging to my personal spiritual walk with God. And it excites me to see how God will work in the next months!

Like Baalam blessed the people of Israel, I want it to be said of us, "Look what God has done!"
"Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.  For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’"
Numbers 23:20-23

(Not all are pictured, this is just the surprise group)

Blessed beyond measure,
Joanna Kay
3 John 4