"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." -Philemon 6-7
Although we are 18 hours from home we had an amazing time this weekend in the company of fellow believers. Our friend, Heather, took a weekend off from her duties at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) to drive across Florida and play with us for a while. She is interning at a working farm which is developing seeds and plants for various climates, as well as serving as a resource and training center for missionaries. Through teaching small farmers how to be successful, ECHO is doing their part in the name of Christ to feed the world. We had a great time together playing games, catching some waves, taking a much needed nap and just having time to talk together.
On Sunday we all drove to Orlando to attend worship. We were invited over to a family's house for lunch. Little did we know that lunch would include not only delicious food, but a relaxing afternoon with a total of 21 kids and 11 adults. Yes, I said relaxing.
While the kids were occupied with playing, the adults sipped tea and spent the hours in conversation. No barriers. No pretenses. No expectations. Just the common bond of Christ and His love joining us together. It was genuine and sweet. It was a beautiful picture for me- one that I've been asking the Lord to show me for some time.
Recently, my blog friend, Mindi, shared her isolation within her own church. This has caused me to step back and examine my own heart and actions among God's people. I've been praying about this and God really used yesterday to answer many of my questions.
During the afternoon, about every cell phone in the room was paged from an out-of-town church member who was being admitted to the hospital. While visiting with family, she was experiencing complications related to her pregnancy with twins. With heart-felt concern and wet eyes, the people gathered and prayed.
I also observed the care of an older lady in the congregation. She has been having health issues that cause her to faint. More than once she was being supported on the arm of another or fanned in the back of the church by a young father. Her every need was met. She told me in detail about her love for this congregation and how they never stopped loving her even after she left the church for a few years. When her home was destroyed by a hurricane, they helped raise the money to rebuild it.
Later, we attended the evening service and shared yet another meal. A chaplain came to speak about the local prison ministry. When the offering was taken nearly $400 was collected for this ministry from this small group of people. Again, the generosity overflowed.
The pastor just began a series that morning on love. He said that he felt like he was "preaching to the choir", but yet that God was calling them as a church to an even deeper commitment to love one another and others. Wow.
On the drive back, Sean and I discussed how full we were. Not full of food, but full of love. The love of God's people is like nothing else.