Our women’s group was meeting for the first time, and I wanted everything to be just right. The house was clean for the most part, and the kitchen table was free from piles of folded underwear. (A friend who was coming tried to comfort me about the house saying she didn’t care what it looked like, even if there was underwear on the kitchen table.) The orange juice and coffee were waiting, and I’d just pulled a gluten-free coffee cake from the oven, so no need to worry about serving a day-old rice-flour dessert (aka sawdust) to my friends.
Everything appeared to be ready. Everything but me. I was a complete wreck. I always struggled with hospitality — I worry about the food I serve, dangling cobwebs, and the spots on our drinking glasses. (Spots? Who am I kidding? They’re so bad they look frosted!)
But I also knew I wasn’t ready to encourage anyone. Earlier in the week I’d gotten a big ol’ no on a writing project I’d been working on for a few years and dreaming about for much longer. The rejection hurt and I was in serious discouragement mode. Lord, how can I possibly welcome anyone and make them feel loved and encouraged when I am hurting and the pain is festering like a splinter in my heart?
I considered canceling but felt God saying it was time to do this. He’d already given me the Scripture to use and led me to a list of icebreaker questions to begin with. I just needed to stick to His plan.
Two of my dear friends arrived while the coffee cake was still warm and we cracked up over the questions, revealing our worst hair styles and the “really cool” things we used to wear growing up. (Anyone else remember pegged pants tucked into slouchy socks pulled up really high?)
When the time came to move into the living room to discuss God’s Word and what He had planned for us, I curled up on the recliner, opened my Bible and notebook, and took a deep breath. I’m a mess, Lord. Please help me to focus on Your Word so You can reach out to them. I read about Jesus healing the paralytic in Mark 2, stressing verses 3-5:
Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:3-5 (NIV)
I looked at my notes, at what God had shared with me earlier, and the words tumbled out with my tears, “Sometimes things are going to ‘paralyze’ us, and we’re going to need friends to carry us, to carry us in prayer to Jesus.”
That was it for me. Those words touched the splinter in my heart, and I realized I was the one whose faith was tired, paralyzed even, and I needed to be carried. God knew how badly I was going to need this time, why I shouldn’t have canceled, and my friends knew it too when I started sobbing. They lovingly listened and hugged me. They tenderly plucked that splinter, encouraging me to give the wound time to heal and to keep fighting.
That first meeting wasn’t about the glasses being spotty or the coffee cake being warm but about God reaching in when I couldn’t reach out, when my faith was tired and I was too weak to encourage anyone. He found me nestled in the recliner in our living room and showed up looking an awful lot like my friends, hugging me through their arms and speaking His Word through my very mouth. What a blessing to be carried by friends, and what an honor to have God walk right through my front door, right into my imperfect house, to love and heal me right where I lay paralyzed.
And now I am free to carry others.Leave a Comment