What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Church’?
What does it mean to say “I’m going to Church this Sunday?” Is it just a house of worship?
Is it just something to do on a Sunday morning out of duty and routine?
While this post is not an essay on Church, it is about one in particular. Recently, I heard an additional definition of LaFayette Alliance Church(LAC) where my husband pastors.
A refuge for the suffering(Pastor Rob)
suffering=: the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.
refuge=: shelter or protection from danger or distress; something to which one has recourse in difficulty(Webster’s Dictionary)
The past few years this definiton has evolved for LAC. The darkness and confusion of fog hovering over our Church have left us with no recourse, but to run to our Savior with our questions, hurts, and uncertainties. When the fog does not lift, we need a refuge. Psalm 46:1-3
Not only are many suffering from cancer, but there has also been the sudden passing of loved ones, a cancer diagnosis of a mother caring for her son who has cancer, lost jobs, broken bones, broken hearts over children gone astray. What can be done when the burden is heavy? the brokenhearted crushed?
One thing we have stopped doing is asking why. I recently sat with my husband at the bedside of a woman of God just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. A wife and a mother, taking care of her husband who is not well, and her son who has fought his own battle with cancer for several years. With our arms wrapped around this family, weeping with those who weep, my husband wisely and lovingly said;
I don’t know ‘why’ this is happening, if I knew, I would be God.’
While we do want to know ‘why’ to so many circumstances we face every single day, a better question as followers of Jesus is ‘what’? And in the midst of the many trials and suffering where we find ourselves, we run to our Great God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and pour our hearts out to him. Praying together as a community has brought comfort and assurance that we are not alone.
In addition to praying fervently for one another, our community of believers makes meals, does yard work, visits those who are sick at home or in the hospital, and writes notes of encouragement. We have come together in the mist of the fog, believing that in joy and sorrow, laughter and sadness, anticipation of new life or new relationships, that we will rejoice in God our Savior who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
LAC, a refuge for the suffering? Yes. But also a place where you will be welcomed, embraced and loved, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
This category of posts on Dusty Women is one of my favorites.
They are ordinary women who love and serve an Extraordinary God. Women I want to be like so the Word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:5 I wanted a catchy title other than God’s Women, so I asked a friend for help, this is how she answered when I asked her help on a title for his series–
what is something that defines us? Maybe not where we’re from but where we’re going? I always love the analogy of following Jesus so closely that you get the dust of your shepherd on you. Following in the footsteps of your Shepherd. So you could call us Dusty Women.
I love the fact that she said we need to be defined by where we’re going not where we’ve been. As Paul says in Philippians 3:12-13…
forget what is behind.
Patti was definitely a dusty woman, she clung to Jesus every single day. I am sad that I didn’t interview her, but I’ve known her for many years. I speak of her in the past tense, because she is now with her Lord. On October 13, she closed her eyes in this world and opened them to see her Savior. I’m thrilled for her, but the spot she occupied in my heart and many others is quite noticeable, and her pew at church is empty.
But I learned from her to not dwell on the sadness. Patti was a shining example of how to live every single day to the fullest, not focusing on her suffering and circumstances, but always asking how you were doing. Her words were Bible saturated, and her response to any difficulty was not ‘woe is me’ but praying fervently and without ceasing. She was a trained professional cook, also working as a nanny because she loved children.
Patti left notes for my husband, also her pastor, on what she wanted included at her funeral service. She didn’t want a eulogy, and she probably would have said ‘stop talking about me’ if she heard what was said during the sharing time. She was not one for the spot light, she wanted the focus of her homegoing celebration to focus on what she had in Christ.
She and her husband did not have children, their needs were always met, but were not wealthy, Patti suffered many years with Chrohn’s disease, cancer, along with other physical ailments. She never complained, not to me anyway. You knew where you stood with Patti, one my favorite qualities about her, she lived transparently, never beating around the bush when answering a question.
I usually end my interviews asking some fun questions about food and drinks. She didn’t drink coffee or tea and she loved black licorce. She loved to cook, and was often found in our church kitchen showing us the way to prepare excellent food.
Patti loved God ultimately, God’s Word passionately, her husband unconditionally, and she didn’t know a stranger. She taught me how to live. She truly lived out Titus 2:3-5.
2017 I began the practice of focusing on a word for the month, writing it on an index card, keeping it before me each day. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months and months to years, looking back and not remembering where those simple joys of the day went. What were the simple joys of the weeks and months that got me up each morning? I needed a guide, a way to remember. Although this is not an original idea, I made it my own. You can read about the general idea at Ann Voscamp or Lore Wilbert at Sayable.
July…Do…pray more, listen more, speak more grace
Pray the Scriptures for others. This is a practice I have done over the years. In order to pray the Scriptures I need to know them.
Listen more, listen well, listen to understand, not listen to reply. Listening well is one of the hardest things to DO well. Listening well involves not rehearsing what your reply will be while the other person is talking.
Pray without ceasing
Speak healing words filled with grace, blessing and hope
August…LET GO: SURRENDER
of my way
of preconceived notions
of expectations of what life should be
…choose the good portion which will not be taken away from me (Luke 10:42) I want to be like Mary, choosing the good portion.
2. …carefully obey God’s voice( Exodus 23:22)
3. …make my fundamental aim in life to know Christ (John 17:3)
4. … trust God in the now, this season and what is in the forseeable future.(Psalm 62: 5-6)