Monday, June 16, 2008

Extending Grace

June 15, 2008

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. "
Ephesians 3:20
(The Message)

God is building his Kingdom among Deaf people here in Orange Walk, Belize. Sometimes it goes a little slowly and I get discouraged. This verse reminds me to hang tight. God's in control. It's his project and it will evolve beyond my wildest dreams, not by my effort, but by his Spirit. It's one of the words of encouragement God has given me this past month while our church has been struggling.

One day last week I was seeking God's direction with how to handle a fight between one young woman (20) and one young man (19). They are in volatile romantic relationship and she is pregnant. Their fight quickly got bigger because the girl sought out other girls to be on her side while the boy did the same thing with the boys. By Sunday it felt like the church was splitting in two. The original problem was fairly complex and was not going to be resolved in one discussion. But more than that it concerned me that others were being dragged into it. I was clearly in over my head. No matter what I said I could not get them to let down the wall of pride and anger. But most of all I was worried about how this would effect our church.

When I need encouragement, God sends someone. If I don't hear it from the first person, God will send a second.

This time he sent John, a friend and a pastor in Maine. John emailed me reminding me that when Paul was shipwrecked he still showed confidence in God because God had given him his destination. He was headed to Rome (Acts 23:11). God would would make it happen. John saw past the "problem" to my worry about our church...would it die because two people can't get along? John reminded me that God has shown me my "destination" many times and many ways. God will make Jesus' Deaf Church in Belize grow roots, flourish, and multiply. I should trust God to make it happen.

You would think that would be enough, a timely email, but I wandered on to my job at school and was still worried and not sure what to say and how to handle the young the couple. This day happened to be staff devotions and the principal led reading from John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me also."

I had to laugh. I wondered if God would bombard me with Bible verses all day until I surrendered to trusting him.

Today, Sunday, both sets of alienated factions came to church. We prayed, we talked, we prayed some more and God brought the beginnings of forgiveness. We learned that sometimes you have to let go. You can't fight until the other person says, "I was wrong and your were right." They might never do that. You have to forgive. Sometimes in relationships we just have to let go, even when both people think the other person is "wrong". The anger and the hate, the bitterness and the way arguing stirs us up and makes us all nauseous and tired is not worth being "right". So today we all struggled to grab a piece of Peace and say... the issue and the "he said, she said" doesn't matter. Our love and our community, our relationship to each other is too valuable to throw away.

We ended with apologies, a prayer of thanks and commitment to our future.

Grace. Freely giving the grace that Jesus extends to us is unnatural. It's hard. Yet, it's the only way we can survive as a Kingdom community.

I don't know where we will be in a week. Will they walk away from our moment in the presence of God and turn back to anger and resentment? Maybe... but I am trusting God to lead us again if that happens.

Grace and Peace, Nancy

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, this is a great idea! Your blog--like your testimony--will bless many!