Relationships in the River . . .

I’ve been thinking lately that it’s not such a bad thing to have circumstances turn your life upside down! OK, so maybe that ‘bone-crushing, knee-breaking, chest-ripping” bit was a little over the top, trauma-wise. But some really wonderful, Life-enhancing changes have come from that chaos.

First of all, the geographic changes have made an incredible improvement in my over-all morale. Thanks to Curt & Vi, I now live in a comfortable, friendly, blessed house with another family of missionary-believers. And, as a result of company downsizing, outsourcing, and consolidation, my worksite has moved–from a I83 off-ramp and a death-trap morning drive–to a site that I can reach over country roads, past farms, and fields of wheat, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. I arrive to work prayed-up, energized, and ready to deal with my day.

My own understandings about relationships and people have also unalterably shifted. I see and experience everyone differently now. It must be all the prayer from folks who knew I needed help! People at work have become precious friends, and we are beginning to really experience life together!

Before the accident,  I never knew that most of them even noticed me. But their steady outpouring of love and support during my recovery has helped me see the reality of how they feel about me and helped me understand how I feel about them. Beyond all the differences, irritations, and group pressures, we are a real family.

That same transformation has taken over my relationships with my faith community, Christian Life Assembly (CLA). Before that unfortunate episode with the tractor-trailer, Curt & Vi Nissly were already friends. But in the process of dealing with the issues surrounding my auto accident and the ensuing disaster-recovery operation, we have become family. We now really love, understand, and appreciate one another in ways I have rarely experienced in my lifetime. God has really blessed our coming together.

My new family relationships have also borne fruit of their own. Curt and Vi have facilitated new and deeper levels of interaction and intimacy with my faith community. Previously, I rarely experienced relationship with CLA on any deep level. I pray for them all daily, because that’s who I am and what the Lord has called me to do. But in terms of where I stood in relation to them, I have always felt as though I were outside at a distance, watching, praying, encouraging, but never fully being a part of the ‘mainstream institution.’

Curt & Vi have changed that perception, for all of us. Curt spontaneously prophesied over me one night, as we sat in our Thanksgiving service. They had picked me up from the rehab center and brought me to church with them. After lots of CLA folks came up to say hello, and to pray over me, Curt leaned forward and said, “Your days of being a hermit are over.”

At the time, I thought to myself, “Yeh, let’s see what happens when I return to ‘normal.” The trouble with that is I had no idea that ‘normal’ for me was already changing. I bonded with the people in the rehab center, I bonded with people from work,  I bonded with Curt & Vi, and just about everyone else that crossed my path since that period. And all those bonds have begun other bonds.

While I was laid up, Curt & Vi got involved with a group of other ex-missionaries that wanted to continue teir missionary calling during home sabbaticals and retirement. So Vi volunteered me for membership in the group, because of my writing and electronic development skills. That group has become my ‘small group’.

A earlier, terrible, first small-group experience drove me into a period of hibernating from any and all group affiliations. It happens. People come together to socialize, chat, brag, and eat cake, and pretty soon that deteriorates into cacophony and gossip. I knew I did not want that kind of group experience again, so I resigned myself to life as a Christian hermit. I could deal with being alone-I’ve been alone most of my adult life. No problema!

But God and the Nissly’s had a different plan. We all noticed the change after I went to that first group meeting. Vi said, “you came alive in that meeting!” Yeh, DUH! The group had great leadership, a solid missionary-type goal, full group involvement and participation, awesome individual professional credentials, and a working role for me! What’s not to like!

So now I’m busy with the group’s project, but there are other momentous changes too. Sunday, at worship, I noticed another new change, related to the change in my group experience, but expanding it.

I’m not experiencing CLA as a two-dimensional, superficial social club anymore. Maybe this insight is a bit on the over-the-top side. But as we worshiped Sunday, I began to see the community as a living, breathing, heart-pumping, God-praising, really joyful organism–a throbbing, pulsing, singing, multi-dimensional part of His Kingdom–here and now–not in some future vapor-realm.

All of us–young, old, black, yellow, brown, white, tall, short, cranky, kind, gay, straight, thin, fat, aching, crying, laughing, shouting, dying, still–all of us becoming, being transformed as we grow into the shoes He’s put out for us to fill.

I looked out and saw the River of God running through all of us, filling us, flowing over us and out the doors, to the rest of the planet. Beyond our human understanding, or the sight of our merely human eyes, we are all becoming a  living, breathing, throbbing, River-filled creature of His Kingdom!  We’re His CLA_Creature! Alleluia!

Personally, I also realized that I have evolved to a place I have never been before, to an understanding that I have never seen before, and to an dimension of the power and presence of His Kingdom that I have never felt before. From my new perch, I can see His kingdom–right here and right now! And I know in my Spirit that Curt’s rigjt–I have left my hermitage and am never going back. So to my original point–maybe getting hit on the head isn’t such a bad thing . . .

Then the Angel showed me Water-of-Life River, crystal bright. It flowed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, right down the middle of the street. The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)

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