I’m speaking of the human kind, not the paper or digital variety.
Yesterday I posted a letter that Pastor John sent to Dianne and me just after Paul was born, where he sent a specific word of hope to us and also a call to the church to embrace this little boy as a gift.
On Tuesday I mentioned the long-term care given to us of meals, both those prepared and those underwritten by gift cards.
Today, one of the outcomes of Pastor John’s persistent call to Bethlehem to ‘run toward need rather than comfort.’
On October 12, 2004, Dianne received a diagnosis of cancer. On October 15, 2004, she was told that the cancer had already spread from her breast to her bones in her back and ribs. It was Stage IV disease – there is no Stage V. She had to enter immediate, intensive, and frequent treatment that would leave her very weak and sick for months.
Unlike 1995 when we ran from the church, this time we ran to the church. Immediately, elders gathered to pray for all of us (which will be the subject of a future post), and the broad, international networks of prayer warriors was engaged.
Two women, neither did I know before Dianne’s diagnosis of cancer, stepped forward at church to say they would help organize the meals (and I’m not sure how many other things as well). This was not like a small group (which was also in flux for us as our best friends and small group leaders had just left for the mission field), this was inviting complete strangers into our lives at a moment of crisis. Would we sacrifice a facade of independence and competence to allow people to really help us?
I’m so glad that we did! These two women did more than ‘help’ with meals, they did everything.
Three times a week somebody would show up at our front door, nearly always at the same time of day. Sometimes we knew them; often times we did not.
The greatest gift these two sent-from-God organizers did was remove one more thing we needed to manage in the midst of our chaos. We didn’t need to answer phone calls or emails about those meals, and we didn’t need to worry if or when something was coming. And they respected family boundaries – never did my wife or I feel disrespected. Always did we feel cared for in a very profound way.
Week after week. For nine months.
They were our Philippian friends that Paul writes about in Philippians 4:14: Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
I was certainly humbled by this extraordinary generosity. I also understood that they were serving in the strength that God provides, and that God never grows tired of meeting our needs, no matter what they are.
Then, one day, Dianne felt well enough to resume her role as manager of the house, and the meals stopped. This was also a grace, their respecting that the woman of the house wanted to resume her role, and encouraging her in it.
God did that for us. His provision is remarkable, and I believe them when they said it was a blessing to serve us in this way. I am grateful to God he made us desperate enough to accept this level of help as an example of how he meets our needs.