One of our youngest, and newest pastors, Adam Eaton, spoke to the congregation this past Sunday morning about why the church exists". (http://www.harvest.org/media/watch/we-not-me-by-adam-eaton-20141012.html) My mind is still marinating in what the Lord shared. through Adam. He spoke of the early church, seen in Acts 2, and how they were about community, coming together in fellowship, exhortation, and prayer. They existed to build one another up, to glorify God, and to evangelize the world. They were there to spur each other on to do good works, as well as provide comfort when the "bottom dropped out" from beneath them.
Today, the church is intended to do the same. Pastor Adam spoke of what happened when the bottom dropped out from his world when his wife left him, and he spoke of how the church, OUR church, was there for him to encourage him to continue to do what the Lord had called him to do. He was upheld, exhorted, held accountable for his reaction to what his wife was doing, and when the bottom completely dropped out the day his wife decided to file for a divorce, our church stood in the gap, stood by his side, and even carried him when he needed it.
The same was true for me when the bottom dropped out from underneath me in July 2009 when my husband passed away and my church family surrounded me, carried me, and prayed me through the devastating loss of the man that I had spent half of my life with. Without the love of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I do not know how I would have survived the treacherous path of grief!
I have been thinking about the path. My path. The road no one ever wants. The road that everyone dreads. The road that is inevitable on this side of heaven.
I am the widow chosen to be the coordinator of our church's widows' ministry. I am so blessed to be chosen for such a calling. A calling that I am only equipped for by the grace of God. In the beginning months of my ministry, my main burden was to minister to those who walked through the doors of the church looking for the comfort and guidance that they so badly needed. And while that is still a burden on my heart BIG TIME, my heart is sensing that the Lord wants more.
When we first started the ministry two years ago, me and my co-coordinator Susan Campbell, were focused on providing a way for our girls to fellowship and create friendships. In making this our focus, we have held many events and brought the girls together for Bunco, movie nights, BBQ fellowships, musicals, weekend trips, volunteer work, and we have joined in the fellowship at the church's Surf Fellowship that takes place every summer, every other Saturday. These opportunities for fellowship have brought LIFE back to the widows! So much so that we have been dubbed the "Wild Widows" because we have such a wonderful time getting out there and doing what the Lord has asked us to do...give GLORY to Him. We experience God's JOY when we are able to give Him glory through our circumstances. Is it always easy? NO! But we get out there and hopefully show other widows that they don't have to dress in sackcloth and ashes and curl up into a ball and cry ourselves to death to mourn our husbands. Do we cry? YES! A LOT!! Probably more than anyone that hasn't been through it can imagine. But the enemy loves nothing more than to kick us when we are down, so it is our hope that other widows that see how much LIFE we have in us will encourage them to take the steps necessary to start living again.
Seeing that our ministry has had such an impact on so many other widows, as I said previously, I believe the Lord is calling for something more. I believe the Lord wants to use this ministry to show the married women of our church that when their time comes to be called to widowhood, they will see that they will be blessed by God! The church, just like the Lord, has a heart for the widows. The Lord brought this ministry at the perfect time! There will be widows added to the church today, and in the days and years to come. I used to cry thinking that I didn't want another widow added to our ministry! "NOT ONE MORE", I would cry out to the Lord. But the Lord has given me eyes to see that because death is inevitable this side of heaven, this ministry is a provision from HIM...a gift...for those who will, one day, walk this road. Now they don't have to travel the road alone. The beautiful women of our ministry will be able to come along side each woman who has been given the "assignment" of widow, and walk the road with them so that they will know that they are not alone, and not just that, they will be able to live again.
Not many who are married now actually think about the future in this sense, but it is my prayer that when they see our sweet ladies out and about, or they see our pictures on Facebook, or they hear us hooting and hollering at the top of our lungs while we are playing a game of Bunco...they will tuck those pictures and sounds away in their hearts so that when the day comes, they will know in their heart of hearts that they will be okay, and that the Lord is OH SO FAITHFUL! Praise Jesus!