In Part 1, On Making Community, I talk about our small group and how it began and how it has remained in fellowship with such gentleness and care for one another, and I don’t feel like the topic is complete without my sharing how this group has changed our lives in very tangible ways. I share in hopes that it will change your life by way of perspective – that YOU can love the needy in your midst.
My husband and I, we have been the needy, and our community group saw us as the perfect opportunity to show Christ’s love when the pediatricians sent us hours away from home, away from our children, to take our baby to Children’s Hospital. We had little time to even pack up.
When I stepped out of the appointment, our friend was in the waiting room with a cup of coffee for me. When I pulled into our driveway, Emily had been playing with my other boys, and the rest of our community descended on us with bags of groceries and a weed eater. One immediately started doing our lawn. One began to clean out our refrigerator because we would be gone a while, and it turned out to be 2 weeks total. One came with a medical notebook with files and tabs, so I could organize my thoughts and keep up with what the doctors would be sharing with us about our Titus. I still use this notebook every week.
They arranged to care for the boys when family couldn’t, and they arranged for strangers even to bring us meals while we were in the hospital. They themselves visited us there. We received dinners for weeks after our return home. They gave us money to help with the insane bills, and they cleaned our house, did electrical work, and fixed a broken chair. It’s too much for me. One day weeks after being home from the hospital, I looked up and saw that all the books on a huge shelf had been arranged and organized. I closed my eyes and tried to let it root down in me, how to love and to be loved.
One of the greatest things I learned during our neediest time is that much of what comforted us was so extremely simple and free. The greatest gift our community has given us is the gift of presence. It wasn’t those who had a comforting story or anyone that said, “I know how you feel” that comforted us. It was the ones who just came and sat, even with nothing to say. My girlfriends held Titus with that feeding tube attached to the pump, and they treasured him, bounced him around, and treated him like a normal child while I stretched my back and sometimes when I stared blankly into the corner.
One late evening after we had expressed deep concern for our own weariness, a friend called and said he was coming over and had something for us. When we opened the door to him, all he had was a tall cup of water. We have a tap-full of water, but we stood in the kitchen there, and my husband drank every drop, silence in the drinking and peace over our house.
I want to encourage you, especially if you’re one of the bajillion of us whose neediness is out of control and you’re weary for life in community. I want to encourage you to go BE COMMUNITY for someone else. Go and give what little you have, even if all you have is a tall green glass filled with water. Making community is simply acknowledging the living-water in you and then letting the peace of that stream flow into someone else’s life.