February 13, 2007
Dear Heavenly Father,
O Lord God, I am so happy to be here talking and listening to You again. You know how long it has been, and You know the sorrows and questions and longings of my heart that have kept me from writing. But as You always do, in Your perfect (and unexpected) timing and ways, You have spoken clearly to my heart, and brought the comfort and some answers that are satisfying the questions, and You Yourself are being the fulfillment of my soul's deep longings.
Lord, You know the sorrows of my heart over losing my dad (and here I thought I'd gone through it amazingly well -- so well I actually felt a bit guilty about it... and kept waiting for it to catch up with me). And at the same time the sorrow and hurt I feel every time I visit my mom -- and the dread, even, as I find myself looking for any excuse not to go... and feeling great guilt over that. This is one of the things You have just answered for me -- that I have been clinging to my mom, and her answers, instead of turning all my questions and sorrows over to You. Mom was always "there for me" and I have not wanted to give that up. I'm sorry, I didn't even see that, until I read that book this weekend.
Thank You for the book. Thank You for members of the church -- Your church -- who listen to Your voice and show Your love to me at the very moment You lead them, speak to them. Thank You for ___ sending the link to the book, and coming for lunch on Sunday, and his gentle words about gossip -- which I see so clearly I had fallen into, as I search, I see, for a place to lay the blame for my frustration with the church -- and my own life -- not realizing that the problem really lay in "structures" rather than in individuals (at least directly), because in their sincere efforts to worship You through the structure, they have really lost You and each other -- lost the love You long to share -- lost their first love!
I was really beginning to despair. I've been wanting to talk to the "leadership team" about "womens ministries" for close to a year now, ever since I came up with the idea -- and I'm beginning to think it was indeed "I" who came up with the idea - though I'm sure You love women and kids and want to see them loved... but right now (this minute!) I see so much foolishness in the "womens ministry" approach! Wow, thank You for opening my eyes and speaking to my heart and mind... Thank You for Your voice... still and small and yet clear... and totally wise... when I finally hear You speaking in Your perfect timing, just as You have prepared my heart!
Wow! I suddenly realized as I was writing, that the early church did not have formal "womens" (or any other programmed) ministries. True, they did feed the widows -- but those were widows who had not one else to care for them, and they did their part by praying constantly for the church. Women like Priscilla did their part, but it was in the course of daily life, like discussion about the Lord, enlightening Apollos and others in the course of hospitality (taking him into their home) and in the course of working in the family business alongside her husband (and Paul). Dorcas used her talents to make clothes for the poor. We don't read of her organizing sewing meetings; she just used her abilities. The women loved her, and it does not seem to have been a "give me" type love (greediness) but a response to her truly loving deeds which came from her love for the Lord!
And then of course there is Titus 2:3-5. I've been thinking all along that we need to "get people out/together" to "learn together." But that isn't what is happening in these verses. These are older women, right in homes with younger women, cooking, cleaning, playing with the children, sewing, answering questions... showing by modeling and advice how to be "Godly keepers at home"... which apparently is that most important role for women! How Jesus loved children! And Paul recommended that young widows remarry and have families! Here I have been longing to "get into ministry" and even look forward to being "free" of my child-raising responsibilities....
Oh Lord! Could that be the problem my kids are having? Have I been ignoring them in order, as I have thought, to serve You??? Have I been doing that all along? Oh my goodness, that would explain my longing all along for "intentional community" and for "extended family"... and recently for wanting to move out where my kids are... and to home school my grandson... and sometimes I have even fleetingly wished we could all live together, or at least in very close proximity. That's it, isn't it? The Proverbs 31 woman does all kinds of things, like selling property and raising crops, but they are all done in the context of loving God and loving and serving her family! She does not plan meetings to do that. She just takes care of the family (husband and kids... and servants!) the Lord has given her... and she impacts them with God's (and her) love... and yes, I'm sure, impacts others along the way. I keep wanting to teach "younger women"... and yet I have been overlooking the young women God has placed directly in my path... my own daughters (not to forget my son, too).