Monday, November 02, 2009

Two heads are better than one

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I’ve made it to Ezekiel in my Bible reading. I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll finish the Bible by the end of the year, but what matters most is that I finish it, not the timeline. Life has been much busier in the last three months than it has been all year, so my reading time has been compromised. The good news, though, is that my service time has increased!

We recently had the second meeting of our neighborhood congregation and it’s really going well. Not only do we enjoy the two hours we spend together, we tend to run long and we talk theology most of the time. Sure, we have a few differences of opinions, but for me at least the debates help me to better understand my own understanding of the Scripture. Funny thing, these conversations are spilling out of the formal meetings and into our social events, too. Jill and I attended two parties this weekend (I love Sweet Bottom Plantation!) and had God conversations over beer at both of them.

Speaking of parties, one was a Halloween event and Jill and I attended as conjoined twins. We both managed to fit into a 4x long-sleeved shirt. You should have seen us waddle around, four legs, two arms and two heads!

In the devotion I lead two weeks ago I used this verse (Isaiah 55:7-9): "Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I used the verse to help address the question, “Can we know God’s will?” In the end I left the question unanswered, but reassured the group with this final quote I found somewhere: “The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will not protect you.”

Here’s an excerpt from a new article I wrote for the church blog about a program serving homeless women:

“The Reverend Nancy Yancey, CEO, opened the ceremony and told us Rainbow Village was ‘a place of transformation where God’s love, mercy and grace abound.’ Lynnette Ward, Adult Program Director, followed and told us of her own tenure as a resident of Rainbow Village before taking her first position with the organization. Recalling the woman who served as her mentor before her own graduation, Lynnette had asked her, ‘What can I do to repay you for your kindness?’

‘You can do for another,’ the mentor had answered back then. Lynnette turned to the anxious graduates. ‘And that’s what I urge you ladies to do,’ she said, ‘to do for others. Because what we go through is not for us, but for someone else.’

Each graduate in her turn stood before the crowd and told her story. Stories of domestic violence, eventual homelessness and poverty, moving children from hotel to hotel, fighting back hunger and the temptation to return to an abusive spouse just to have a roof overhead. Stories that all wove their way to a confession of helplessness and hopelessness, until they found Rainbow Village. And while at Rainbow Village, they found hope, self-respect, new skills, and most importantly, the power of God. One graduate ended her story telling us that while at Rainbow Village she finally learned to “love who God has made me to be.”

A young man, probably a high school senior, was given a chance to speak. He told of a time when he lived in his mother’s car or dingy hotels. In the sixth grade at the time he and his mother moved into Rainbow Village, he said he had never finished a school term in the same school where he had begun that year. Being homeless meant constantly moving from temporary shelter to temporary shelter. It also meant having no permanent friends.

He paused for a moment and looked to his mother who was sitting in the audience. ‘I came to Rainbow Village when I was twelve years old,’ he said. ‘And for the first time in my life I attended the same school all year long. I made friends, I had stability. And I watched my mother change, and I became so proud of her.’

When he finished he took a seat behind his mom, Sondra Blue, a graduate of Rainbow Village and now its Children and Youth Program Director. She looked over her shoulder at her son, smiled broadly, and then reached to gently cup his face in her hand.

I looked down at my program to hide my tears, and my eyes came to rest on a phrase describing Rainbow Village’s mission: Breaking the Cycles of Homelessness, Poverty and Domestic Violence.

After what I saw that evening, I had no doubt that Rainbow Village is excelling at doing God’s work.”

Don’t you just love that line, “What we go through is not for us, but for someone else”? Those wise words are in my memory bank forever.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

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