24.10.05

The Family of God

One of the things that has surprised some people about us (myself and Jacqueline) during this tough time for us, has been that we have not missed a single Sunday morning meeting. Sometimes it is right for those who are grieving to have space away from everyone; indeed our elders told us clearly that if we needed to we could stay away for a week or two. We considered this option seriously, and nearly went down this route, but in the end I decided against it.

The Church is the family of God. Who do you gather around you during a tough time, if it is not your family? As Matthew says on his blog today, it is when you have a few knocks that what is really inside you is revealed. Is the church as the family of God just a nice theory for us, or is it reality? The Church, Paul says, is a body, though it is made up of many parts, it is one. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers with it. I felt strongly that this was not a time to withdraw, but on the contrary, a time to engage with the body and embrace all the healing and love that they were more than willing to give. Theology is not just meant to edify the mind, but to guide your steps. In fact theology that has no bearing on how you live your life is worthless!

This is not to say that this has been easy for us. Jacqueline in particular has found Sundays quite hard. The well-meaning sympathy, brings all the emotion to the surface, when you would rather something so personal was not on public display. Never-the-less she has willingly submitted to my decision, and agrees it is the right thing to do. It would be hard whenever we came back to the meetings.

I hope also, that we have been a provocation to others. I may not have a label or a recognised title in the church, but I am a leader. I lead by example. If we, who have lost a baby, can still make it to the meeting on Sunday, I hope it will cause others to examine some of the reasons which keep them away! Not to condemn, but to provoke.

One thing that gives me great satisfaction in how we as a family have come through this tough time, is that our theological convictions have been tested and proven. We do not believe and confess one thing when things are going well, and another when calamity strikes, but the same truths that have sustained us in the good times, were there like solid rock for us in the tough times too.

One of the best compliments I have received for a while came from one of the folks on my Daniel class. He said, "When you were teaching from Daniel, I could tell that this was something you have lived through." Amen. God spare us from theology that cannot be lived through!

4 comments:

Christopher Alton said...

A M E N !!!

Cerys Wood said...

We are so glad to hear the testimony of God in both of your lives during this time. It is so good to be able to 'walk through' tough valleys and keep our faith in action without wavering.

It is also so wonderful how God knows exactly what is needed for each individual person during a 'grieving' time.

My testimony is different. When my Father died, I found I did need to take some time off from Sunday meetings. I knew for me to go back straight away and face so many people at once was not going to bring me peace and comfort. Although, the family of God are precious, for some people, just taking time to rest with your wife/husband and immediate family around brings the peace and comfort in the measure that is needed.

For me, after 4 weeks, I felt I was able to attend the Sunday meetings. I was then able to face the family of God and draw from the varied comments, even though still very emotional and tender.

It is so amazing to know that God knows how each of us is made in every detail and what is needed for every individual in every circumstance. He holds no measuring sticks. One way may be right for someone, but not for another. He doesn't expect us to be 'brave'. His heart is that whilst we go through a 'gieving' time, we rest under his wings and allow Him to strengthen us daily and heal our wounds. Reading the word, listening to worship songs, talking to God, crying to God, worshipping God...wonderful...in the sad times as well as the good times!

God bless you both abundantly.

Chris HH said...

Thank you, Cerys.

Good to hear your testimony too. God is good, and he leads us on, however he does it and however long it takes.

Anna said...

hey! i dont want to embarass u everytime by saying oh that was just so inspiring! but chris! i have to say that was really inspiring. talking about being a family and in covenant and really living that lifestyle are two different and you touched on a very important issue. since these two months on the stow and living with my classmates we have come to learn, confess and live in covenant and its just great to discover that the family of GOd is just so much fun and warm to be with!