Tuesday, January 11, 2011

continuing to count

I sit in a (very) warm classroom on a cold Sunday morning and glean insights from unexpected places.  The group is a mixed one: men and women; married, divorced, widowed ... some old friends and some new.  Each one approaches the scriptures open on the table from their own unique point of view.

Verses 9 and 10 of chapter one are the jumping off point ...

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
The discussion moves around a bit and then comes back to faith.  But not faith alone ... faith with feet. 

My feet are slow, sluggish ... not always willing to move in the direction that my faith seems to be leading.  I want to confess my struggles to those in the room with me, yet I hesitate and generalize ... I take the easy way out.

I have not learned to count it all joy* when I am tempted because I fail too often and into the same temptations over and over again.  I share this general struggle and the one about money ... they are easy because we have all confessed to them at one time or another.

*James 1:2-4

And then the conversation turns and I realize that I have become so self-absorbed that I have lost sight of the struggles around me and I am ashamed.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:4
But, there is an unexpected blessing hidden in the words that follow...

Where one person sees only pain and fear, others see His Light reflected.  One of the new faces in the room describes it in military terms ... the soldier in the midst of the fight cannot see whether he is winning or losing the battle, only the general on the hill can see the big picture and knows where everyone stands. 

And this is where the beauty hides ... we are all in the trenches in our own lives, lost in the muck and mire, but we can still see the beauty in the lives around us if we are just willing to take our eyes off our own mess and look.

In this imperfect beauty is where I find my blessings for the week: 

My Sunday School class
  • our teacher or, more appropriately, our facilitator ... the youngest man in the class, yet showing wisdom beyond his years and, more importantly, a teachable spirit
  • the old friends ... the only other couple in this young adult class when we began several years ago ... they are the ones who know us better than any of the others and the ones we have come to rely on ... the struggles they have walked through have made them stronger and even now they are stretching their faith in new ways
  • the one who has been through more than most of us can imagine and yet is still faithful, still serving and still growing, even when she cannot see it in her own life
  • the new faces that we are just getting to know and yet sometimes feel as though we've known for a long time
  • my husband ... my sounding board after the final amen ... someone has to let me know when I have said too much ...
  • most of all I am thankful for the community that is being created and the sense of belonging that I have never experienced in this way before
#'s 8-14

1 comment:

alicia barton said...

Jennifer, I love reading your blog and I get inspired every time I do. You have so much strength and wisdom and you mean the world to me. Thank you for all of your love and friendship, and for being my sister in christ. love alicia