Today is surely a day when I should just go back to the archived files and throw something in here from an old manuscript or article. Tonight is Ladies Night Out at my house for the women at West Huntsville and the hymn “There is much to do. There’s work on every hand. Hark the cry for help comes ringing through the land…” keeps coming to mind. But the sweetness of fellowship and family in Him also comes to mind.
As I anticipate a time tonight with my sisters, I remember yesterday. As I was traveling to worship yesterday morning, my sister (in the flesh and in the Lord), Celine, called me and asked me to meet up with her to do some swap-offs (She had clothes for Ezra and I had Enoch’s birthday present), so we arranged to meet up at the Mexican restaurant for lunch. When I arrived at the church building, David Freeman hugged me and whispered in my ear the pew location of a sweet family from Missouri that I should go meet. I did. We’d never met, but we had so much to talk about that I had to hurry to find a pew for the opening announcements. When it was singing time, sweet five-year-old Amber, whose Mom, Nuris, comes alone with two small children, came stealing down the aisle to sit with me. She always brings a big hug and she busied herself doing her WINGS sheet, so she could stand in line and hug the preacher and get her sticker for “listening” during the sermon. (I do use the term “listening” very loosely!)
As soon as worship had concluded, the college kids behind me helped me pick up the crayons and Marie rushed up to me to talk about her planned devotional for ladies night out. This is Marie’s very first time to speak in front of her sisters and she has written out her manuscript about Dorcas. I am so proud of her. Then, hurrying to Bible class, I sat down next to Jan. We studied, among other passages, First John one, verse seven:
If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin.
The two great blessings of that verse are fellowship and cleansing. The blessings do not come independently of each other. They come in a pair—a set—of blessings.
Class was over and Jan and I visited a bit about the joys and challenges of helping parents who are growing older. She encouraged me. I talked with Betty about her grandson, Liam, and how he’s soaking up Hannah’s Hundred verses. I talked to Holly about new clothes and Hannah’s Hundred (again). I talked to Maury about a Bible he couldn’t find and to Jennifer about a water bottle she was missing. I got the meat I’d purchased from Carter’s softball team from his mom, Kristi, who had meticulously wrapped it and wrapped it some more, so it would not mess up my car. I talked to Lindsay and Mrs. Glenna and then I bumped into my husband, Glenn, who told me that he’d invited people to lunch, too.
“Great!” I said…”We’ll need a big table, because I’m meeting the Sparkses, too.” Our table was for 17, in the end, and these sweet people, who were traveling through between the great Diana Singing and a visit with my dear friends, the Bakers, in Montgomery, were all mixed up with the Sparkses and it was a great time of fellowship.
It was the kind of fellowship that I take for granted. There were at least 43 people from our assembly in that restaurant. That is nothing unusual. Unless we are having a fellowship meal at the building, we pack that restaurant (and others) with groups of Christians. We are so busy enjoying it that we don’t even stop to think what a HUGE blessing fellowship is.
And then, sweet little Emily and Eva, who were born in Wisconsin (I think) and now live in Chicago, who were also sitting across the table from me, just looked around the room, got VERY wide-eyed and began pointing out all the children in that big room at the Mexican restaurant who were in their Bible classes. They could not believe they were just bumping into kids all around that they’d just met in Sunday School! Their mom said to me, “They have never known what it’s like to have Christians all around. We hope they can know that blessing one day.”
Today I am thanking God for that blessing that I, far too often, take for granted. It is huge. It is life-enriching. It is, most importantly, God’s way of keeping me accountable. I am so thankful for fellowship that comes with walking in the light. I never want to be without fellowship (II Thess. 3:6,7). (Our church family had to experience the pain of withdrawing that fellowship yesterday, as well. But it would not hurt so deeply to do that if fellowship was not so sweet to us. I am very much in prayer for the restoration of that sweet fellowship lost.)
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. The conversations with two women at our lunch table who had worked for the Lord in China, largely without this great blessing of fellowship…the baby shower preparation…all the ladies who came to encourage Tiffany and Curtis and little Raylee, before she’s even been born..the new college student and his mom (who is coming to ladies night out tonight!)…etc…etc…would take too much space. I just want to say that being a part of a family in Him is a huge blessing that I do not want to ever be without.
At the very end of the day, I was in a conversation with the wife of the great preacher we had for evening services. He is a student at Memphis School of Preaching and our congregation is helping with his support while he trains. His sweet wife, Erica, and I began to talk about sisters we both knew from different places in our big family. Then she made this comment that made me thankful for a whole new and relatively recent dimension of fellowship:
“There are so many women here that I’ve never met, but still I know them because I have studied with them on the Digging Deep podcast.” Don’t you love that?! There is no reason to be a spiritual hermit in 2015. God has opened doors of fellowship that were totally unavailable for John when he wrote those words about walking in the light and having fellowship.
So today. let’s bask in the blessing. And let ME get busy getting ready for another helping of the wholesome blessing of fellowship!