The One Thing That Unites Us {The Grove: Change}

Change.

It’s the one thing that unites us.

People are fairly surprised when they hear that my first five years on the field I had a total of two teammates. One thousand eight hundred twenty five days and only two teammates, one for two years and one for three.

But then I moved into a much larger community and my life kicked it into hyper gear with never a year (sometimes even a semester) where there wasn’t someone coming or going. Leaving permanently. Here for a year. Off to language school. Called to a new assignment. Need to transition a child to college. Time for a furlough or home assignment. Check, check, screaming at the amount of change, check.

Change.

It’s the one thing that unites us.

Or is it?

Last week I was at a dinner event where the speaker asked each of us at our individual tables to share where we have experienced generosity in the last year. A teacher had a mentor teacher help her. The founder of Azmera shared how God had opened door after door for their retreats. One woman had a quiet member of her small group initiate a supper club and do all of the cooking. Another person shared how in the last 18 months she has lost both parents and her sister and she has decided to be generous with herself and the grieving process.

After we shared, the speaker said, “Where you have seen generosity, you have seen God in action.” She followed up with, “Often when I used to ask people where they had seen God at work, and especially with non-believers, they didn’t know how to answer it. But if I asked about an attribute of God, everyone had a story to share. And then I could point out how that was God at work.”

Change might be our one constant, that’s true.

But God is the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. When you are in seasons of great change, it helps to be tethered to The One Who Does Not Change. Tethered means you will still feel the pull and being jostled, and while you might feel adrift, that is not the big-picture reality.

Let’s picture ourselves around a dinner table. There is a crusty loaf of bread in the middle, ready for us to tear pieces off as we break bread together. There is a bowl with little pieces of paper and you draw one out and share how you have experienced that attribute in the last year. Because stories give birth to stories, if someone sharing on an attribute stirs something in you, go ahead and share.

Generous

Living

Aware

Provision

Merciful

Joyful

Able

Forgiveness

We’re among friends. And sometimes you need to hear other’s stories to remind yourself that what unties us isn’t change.

Tell a story about someone being generous with you.

Tell a story of where you really felt alive this year.

Tell a story of when you experienced someone being aware of you and your needs.

Tell of how you have been provided for.

Tell of when you tasted mercy or joy or forgiveness.

Tell us about when you felt able this year.

Tear off another corner of bread and share. Because as you share, we see God at work. We taste his presence. We are sustained for the next leg of the journey.

And if you have another story to share, do. We can never have too many stories. We’ve got all evening. Come, share.

This is The Grove.  It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions

19 Comments

  1. Michele May 20, 2016

    Last year, as Nepal recovered from two major earthquakes, India imposed an unofficial embargo, essentially cutting off all supplies, particularly fuel so that there were queues miles long at every pump and limited public transportation. Nepalis began to simply offer rides to anyone they saw waiting for a bus they could squeeze into or walking the same direction they were going. I was given free rides twice by perfect strangers. It was a beautiful response to the selfishness and greed that started the crisis. I love the idea in this post… That this was an example of God at work. That makes the memory that much sweeter!

    1. Amy Young May 20, 2016

      This is so beautiful! (And so tragic — but the kindness that can be present when treated so unkindly . . . yes, that is God in our midst!).

    2. Michele Womble May 20, 2016

      So beautiful!  Beautiful that you saw it, but even more so that you experienced – received – the generosity yourself….

      (btw, every time I see you post something I do a double-take thinking I posted and can’t remember…then I remember that I also post my last name…fun that we’re both Michele with one l’s.)

  2. Jenilee May 20, 2016

    A very profound moment was on our trip to Senegal from France. I linked up that story. It was an amazing testament to God being present in all the details of our lives, sweeping in and being available in our time of need.

    1. Amy Young May 20, 2016

      Jenilee, I remember when you first wrote about it. What a comforting example that truly God is with us!

  3. Michele Womble May 20, 2016

    Provision – we’re in America right now, probably for several years, “launching” our kids.  Buying things (furniture, cars, etc.) when (as far as we know) we’re here temporarily doesn’t seem wise – but we’re here long enough that we can’t just say, oh, we’ll do without that – all of that –  a few months.  Doing without furniture to sit on and eat at when we’re trying to help our kids adjust to being here and settle in to life in America also didn’t seem wise.

    But in the past few months we’ve been here, we’ve been given 2 cars (we have  3 drivers in the family and soon will have 4! scary!)  and enough furniture that we have a house full of furniture – really – and it’s amazing.

    That’s not what I wrote about in my link-up, though.  I wrote it a few days ago, before I read this post.

     

    1. Amy Young May 21, 2016

      Michele, these stories we share are so good for the soul. To hear how God is at work . . . this helps me as I sit here with such a brain gripping headache I’m struggling to make a coherent sentence. But these stories remind me of a much bigger picture :). Thank you.

  4. Sarah Hilkemann May 21, 2016

    {Generosity} After 2 weeks of vacation and temps in the 70s and 80s F, entering the oppressive heat and dusty chaos of Cambodia last week was pretty overwhelming. My teammate and I squeezed into the back seat of our taxi bound for our home town, our luggage stuffed in the trunk and our fellow passengers’ chickens tied securely on the top of it all. First they stared at us, making comments in Khmer until they realized we could understand. Then came the questions we have heard thousands of times: “You are sisters, yes? Twins? When will you marry a Cambodian husband?” I seriously considered seeing if I could make an escape out the side door, pondering broken bones and how to tuck and role successfully. But then the driver stopped for yet another smoking break and we all sort of bonded over our desire to get to our destination. Rice cakes with coconut and palm sugar, and hot, fresh ears of corn were passed our way and we all snacked and gave grace when someone needed to shift to a more comfortable position, and I found my heart softening just a bit. I was grateful for this gift of generosity in the midst of the chaos. 

    1. Amy Young May 21, 2016

      Sarah, this warms me. Generosity in the midst of traveling when you just WANT TO GET HOME is such a grace, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing this snapshot. I love it.

  5. Kimberly Todd May 23, 2016

    Amy, I love this way of asking where we’ve seen God at work, by naming an attribute and describing an experience. It’s so meaningful! Last month, I gave a workshop with a friend and colleague that I don’t get to work with in person as much anymore. It was about the intersection of social justice and education. The audience was warm, open, and responsive, and I felt so alive, to be in the company of my friend talking about something I deeply care about to a group of engaged people.

    1. Ellie May 26, 2016

      Yey! Just read this after posting something similar below! Soul sisters here! 😉

    2. Amy Young May 26, 2016

      Oh Kimberly, I love this. When we are able, we are in the very presence and pleasure of God 🙂

  6. Maggie May 25, 2016

    I felt generosity when we were attending a Christmas service in a mountain village in a heavy rain.  We were new to the field and didn’t have rain gear.  One lady insisted I change into dry clothes.  (Asians are generally smaller than Westerners) and then we’re asked spontaneously to participate in the program from the front. This speaks incarnation to me.  I think recognizing the attributes particular to a culture can lead to a redemptive analogy.

    1. Ellie May 26, 2016

      wow Maggie, I love that “I think recognizing the attributes particular to a culture can lead to a redemptive analogy.” Was thinking of theologies that “suit” particular places and Liberation theology coming out of oppression in Latin America – we see different aspects of God’s character reflected more clearly in different places and times and cultures.

  7. Ellie May 26, 2016

    A “joyful” and “living” experience I had recently and I’m hoping it doesn’t sound self-centred, was I got to lead worship at a conference for other workers and I really enjoyed it – it really felt like being myself again and confirmed in me the remembrance of “this is part of who I am; I love to do this, to lead people on in their walk with God” and that’s been really helpful in a time of a lot of uncertainty and where I haven’t been able to use some of those gifts for a long time. God is still the same and I am still the same underneath, we change and mature but we have the same “character” that God stamped on us and he’s not all about hiding that or rubbing it out. Amen

    1. Amy Young May 26, 2016

      Ellie, I don’t think this is self-centered! It reminds me of Eric Little who said, “When I run, I feel God smile.”

    2. Aliyah May 27, 2016

      Hey Ellie, your reply here really blessed me. Its not self – centred at all. It spoke to me about something in my own life at present, thanks for sharing! Aliyah

    3. Michele Womble May 29, 2016

      No, not self-centered at all!  I like leading worship, too and can relate to it being a “joyful” and “living” experience when you get to do it for the first time in a while –

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