Saturday, June 7, 2014

" I thought I was the only one."

"Wow, it’s so good to know that I’m not the only one with problems”, she said with a sigh of relief and a smile on her face.  “I always thought I was the only one.”

 These words were spoken by a friend of mine after her first experience with our mid-week Bible study and prayer group.  After a riveting time of studying Jesus’ audacious invitation to “Follow me [. . .]”, the discussion quickly turned to the weighty matter of what it means to follow Jesus in the midst of dangerous and abusive home situations. Half of the women in our group have been victims of domestic violence and are in the process of securing support and taking the road to healing.  They deal with heavy stuff every single day and unfortunately they are not the only ones; family violence is far too common here in Whangarei.   My friend found herself in good company.
 Two of the women had never participated in the small group before, though they attend Sunday morning worship regularly.  I’m always encouraging folks in our congregation to take the plunge and get involved with a small group study knowing the benefits of accountability, support and intimacy that come with being part of a group like that.  Small groups are a tried and true weapon against the devil’s ploy to isolate and deceive.  When we feel alone and detached, our hearts become vulnerable and our minds begin to believe lies that we are worthless and weird. We begin to confuse the rut we’re in for the horizon, and are so easily led astray from God’s loving laws.  
The beauty of the Church (and I mean “Church” with a big “C”. . . God’s global family of Christ-followers) is that she dissolves the lies and readily says, “You’re not alone. You’re not weird.  We care about you as a person and want to see you succeed.”  In the context of a small group of people seeking Jesus together something supernatural happens: in the community of “we”, God can lead “me”.  Rarely does God write in the sky the instructions and solutions for solving our daily dilemmas.  God most often funnels his guidance through his Word (the Bible) and his people (the Church).  

This is exactly what happened for my friend Wednesday night.  She suddenly realized that she wasn’t alone, she wasn’t weird, and there was hope. Other women in the group identified with her struggle; practical help was offered and prayers were prayed on her behalf. While it is not the intention of a small group to commiserate endlessly the woes of life as if there was no hope, sometimes it’s just good to know you’re not the only one.

Consider the lyrics of this powerful song "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North

“You are more than the choices you have made. 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes. 
  You are more than the problems you create.
  You’ve been re-made.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you new."

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