“Filling in the Gaps – Part Two”
I have a small confession. I’ve been really tired this week. I have another sinus infection and during a pandemic that’s a rather scary thing. I’ve been really ready to just cancel all the activities I’m in charge of for the fall and curl up on my couch and hibernate until next spring.
Fortunately, I had a meeting scheduled this morning with two of my volunteers. They are involved in one of the marriage ministry opportunities we offer. Both of them were full of excitement at new possibilities and new things we could try, even as we go virtual. Their enthusiasm was catching!
We are going through some pretty extraordinary times. More people than ever need to hear personal messages of hope and resilience. More people than ever need to share their story with someone who will listen to them without judgement and with compassion. More people than what pastors and church staff alone can reach out to. We need volunteers to answer God’s call and offer to be Jesus’ eyes and ears. We need listeners, connectors and small group facilitators.
I am a fan of the Upper Room devotional magazine. If you do not receive one, please contact the church office. Hopefully, we still have some available. I believe there is also a way to sign up online for this. Check it out at www.upperroom.org.
On June 26 the devotion was written by a teacher, Terrie Hellard-Brown, who describes how her ordinary work made a difference in the life of one of her students. Her story made me think of how often I think as a counselor that I am just trying to make it through the day myself. Even though I start my day in prayer, and I ask God to touch the lives of those I work with, most days I have no clue if anything I’ve said or done has made a difference. Then, out of the blue, someone will stop in my office or send a card and tell me that something I said resonated with them. I would like to share that type of experience with you by inviting you into ministry as a volunteer.
Another way to put it is to use a scripture from Hebrews 10 verse 24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds … ” (NRSV) I would like to “provoke” you to love and good deeds.
Last week I called someone I’ve been working with for a while. She had been doing really well before the pandemic hit and then all of the social groups she liked to participate in shut down. Instead of going through our usual conversation about how she was doing, I asked her how long she had lived in Platte County. More than 50 years. The rest of the conversation was about all of the changes that have happened in Platte County in the last 50 years.
You have also read my stories about my mother and my grandmother. These are stories I learned about through listening and simply asking, “Tell me about … ” If you have some extra time, and you could listen to an older person tell stories about how they learned to drive, or where they went to school, or what was their experience during the 1960s, then allow me to “provoke you to love and good deeds”!
(I’ve heard it said if you were a teenager in the 60s you were too stoned to remember. I was not yet a teenager during the 60s so I have to trust what others tell me!)
We also need volunteers willing to listen to our young students and willing to share with them your stories of resilience. When we remember our youth, we have to remember that we are remembering our youth. Just because those felt like the “good old days” does not mean they really were all that good. (Isn’t that a line from a Billy Joel song?) They felt good because we were ignoring the news and we only cared about who we had a crush on at the time. Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence. All of that was happening back then too. Our young folks need to hear stories about getting past adolescence. They honestly need listeners who value their stories and will listen without judgement. Does that sound like something you have energy for? Then allow me to “provoke you to love and good deeds.”
These may sound like ordinary tasks, listening and sharing stories. But the impact may be far greater than you will ever see.
On July 28 the Upper Room devotion mentions the scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:13-18. It’s a scripture that often lifts me up when I am ready to curl up on the couch and hibernate. The Message translation for verses 16-18 reads: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
I stand on the hope that the seeds I plant by listening to others and sharing stories of resilience are seeds I may not be able to see now, but they will last forever.
Now who wants to join me in this work?! Are you ready to help God fill in the gaps?
Blessings & Good Health to all,