Tuesday, February 28, 2012

..Or Praiseworthy...Part 2 (Final Installment of Phil. 4:8)

Ministry is a difficult thing to explain.  On one hand, those involved are humbled and outside themselves due to a focus on others.  On the other hand, that service becomes deeply personal and often, a defining part of our personalities. 

And, in a lot of ways, ministry has defined me.  I stayed nine extra months at a church (when God had clearly given me license to leave) for my women's group.  That group, in the few years I was privileged enough to facilitate it, taught me more about living Christianity than any sermon I've ever heard.  They showed me the value of transparency, how crucial it is (for women, in particular) to link arms in a common purpose, and offered relentless encouragement to my struggling heart.

God pulled me toward that ministry, hardcore inadequacies in tact.  And I left realizing that ministry functioned not because of my gifts, but due to theirs.  I miss them--particularly now, when we would be calf deep in the book of James--and I find myself less driven when it comes to personal Bible study.  On days when it's just been enough (whatever "it" happens to be), I miss the solid comfort of their hands.  But I think I most miss the kindred connectedness that comes from women who are committed to one another.

See, I've always believed there's something different about women studying The Word.  I don't think it replaces small group ministry or large congregational meetings, but there's a dynamic between women that cannot be attained with any other grouping.  It's a recipe with that one unidentifiable spice that tantalizes and confuses the taste buds.

Six months into the new scenery, I realize I haven't written about them.  I couldn't write about them.  It hurts to write about them. 

Even when a move is God-ordained, the meantimes swell with loneliness and the rust of disuse.

Women's Ministry is still strong on my heart, but the scenery has changed and I'm not entirely sure old house plans work in the new terrain.  Old bruises are still visible, and I've become uncharacteristically closed-mouthed about where I am and who God is calling me to be.  (Not here, of course.  But few of you know me, and I rarely see the ones who do.)

In the last weeks, Phillipians 4:8 have been the quiet drip, drip of a water faucet to my heart.  The scripture has reminded me of those women, and prompted me to write about them.  After all, when a group of women models Truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, loveliness, admirability, and excellence, is it possible to turn your back and ignore that influence?

They, to my heart, have become the praiseworthy.  Each and every group.  Each and every dynamic.  Each story.  Every tear.  They have burned something into my brain that makes it impossible for me to deny the movement of God's hand--on my life and theirs.  The experience of them leaves me wondering, "What's next?" 

In the meantime, I want to honor them.  His Presence in their lives certainly deserves a bit of praise.

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