Saturday, May 1, 2010

As I have loved you, Love One Another

It has been YEARS since I have given a talk in church. I am sharing this message in service tomorrow.

18 months ago, our youngest daughter Rachel was born. And in the first months following her birth what I had regarded as my body’s retaliation against my 5 years of pregnancy and little exercise, a natural part of getting older (I was afterall practically 30!!) worsened. At every increasing sign and symptom I thought, this is manageable.

I prayed for the pain to cease, I prayed to understand how to heal it. I prayed for a solution to what was wrong with my body. I neglected of course to consider the state of my heart, the depth of my pride. 

My spine began to tilt, and my back began to hunch under the weight of my independence. Still I thought I didn’t NEED someone else to drive my kids to school. I didn’t NEED someone else to hold the newborn baby, I didn’t NEED, well I didn’t NEED anything, because I was JUST FINE, even though I looked a little like Quasimodo. 

As the pain increased so did my stubborn desire to not be a burden until  the simple act of cooking breakfast for my children took all I had. I lay on the living room floor, unable to feel my right leg save an explosive nerve pain in my knee. Under my own shallow breath came the unmistakable silence of a choking child. “He’s choking” Hannah and Connor called out. Lifting my head I could see that they were right. But 8 feet lay between Andrew and I. And the thought of moving even one inch brought me to tears. 

I crawled the distance in the most excruciating pain I had ever imagined, and in that 8 feet I prayed that my child, born himself on Christmas day, would not be the price of my pride. I toppled the chair he was seated in, and turned him over my explosive knee and the unchewed morsel loosened, and he breathed. 

And I cried. 
Because I was relieved, because I was in agony, because I was ashamed, because I had been blessed with a second chance. And I tell you with great shame this is what it took to rein my pride. 

Renewed  in faith, stripped bare of pride. I confessed my need to the care committee and the fruit of the spirit in this congregation was harvested and laid at my feet. It is love expressed in a casserole cavalry one night after another. It is Mrs. Simes homemade strawberry freezer jam and perfect biscuits (which are now a staple at our house!) It was Mrs. Wright’s macaroni pie which fed my children meal after meal while I mourned my Grandmother’s death. The fruit of the spirit is the infinite loads of perfectly sorted and folded laundry (the likes of which I hate to say has not been seen again in our home). It is the attentive ear to all my greatest fears while driving me to endless appointments. It is the simple tender act of pushing my kids on the swing. The fruit of the spirit is abundant in this community, families that I had only seen for moments as I herded my children through the church set down their own work to take up service for me, to love us, to feed us, to heal us.  My gratitude to you for your answer to my need, your desire to love someone as obstinate as me, to lay down your own work to shoulder mine is immeasurable, and your working on my heart has been for my good. 

I previously understood the new commandment to mean we should serve one another, but Highland's love and care for my family taught me the commandment is more fold than that. We are to serve one another, to encourage one another to share each other's joys and burdens, but also we are to see in one another the power that God has given to console and comfort one another. When we choose to live independent of one another we close ourselves to one of God's greatest gifts, the Spirit that lives and moves in his people encouraging them to do His will. 
Before my experience, I thought it was more valuable to be the one serving. But now I understand more fully that neither serving or receiving is more valuable, because both are His will. We give for the glory of God, and we are put in need and receive that God may be glorified, His works seen and shared among us. 


Katherine said...

that's beautiful, summer. what a church family you must have!

Andrea said...

That is just beautiful. You have me crying on the keyboard (don't tell Ben).

Taylor K said...

This is a lovely post. The sense of community is something I miss SO much in Flagstaff. I loved there for six years and it seems that whenever I needed something, someone would provide it. I love that about smaller communities. It makes me want to go back there forever. I feel like that is so lacking in places like Phx and Orange County. I miss my family in CA so much but also miss my community 'family' in my small mountain town. Sigh...

snoopy said...

Dear summer
God has work with me this past year and I too know that his work is to share with one another and he has done that with you and me.
So I'm very proud to be your Auntie and Great Auntie to your family I love you all
Thanks be to God
Love you