Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feet in the fire

"Where's the blog?" some of my readers asked. The easily distracted (like I am) thrive on routines--not sameness, but knowing what's coming. Instead, the week of appointments brought surprises and opportunities.

One of those great pleasures was my accountability group (the WPPRs  from the initials of our names.) We shared breakfast this week, talking about life, faith, and family.

For many years, we met every three weeks and took two annual weekend retreats. Back when we were 38-54 years old, we thought we were busy with kids and husbands and work. 17 years later, aged 55-71, we only find time to meet every month or two. We're traveling, in ministry, watching our grandkids, and still learning new things. The time we set aside is unlike any other relationships we foster, laced with love and integrity.

My criteria in seeking them out?
  • lovers of God so they would hear His voice and speak His words for their entire lifetime
  • women who had secrets and could keep confidences for mutual responsibility in exposing the heart
  • women of power and influence so we wouldn't be threatened by others' accomplishments or fears
I didn't care if:
  • we were or became friends
  • we went to the same church or denomination
  • we held similar positions or--God forbid--had the same opinions on everything
Those lists may seem ambitious or egotistical. But I was very pragmatic about those partnerships, looking for help not hysterics; faith not fear; complementary gifting not complacency or competition.

Our group's foundation rests on the question, "Is God pleased with us and ours?" As our children have grown, we've prayed them through jobs, marriage, illness, and other challenges. Our marriages come under scrutiny, too. "Does that reflect Christ to our spouses? kids? those who observe us? The WPPRs have prayed me through great opportunities, the challenges of masters and doctoral studies, and a horrible season at work. Nothing is off the table. They've kept secrets, advised me from scripture, their POVs, and their hearts. They've lifted our family before God when we were too tired to pray. And I've done the same for them.

The great advantage of such intimacy is that sisters of the heart provide balance. We've said to each other, "I wouldn't think of it that way. Do you think that might mean... instead?" Or, "Check your attitude and make sure your thoughts are pleasing to God." Occasionally we have put another person on high alert: "If someone said that to me, I'd be very cautious. You can't trust them." And, "They said what!? Wake up! They're undermining you."  And once in a while, "Stop. That was a compliment. Did you appreciate the honor you were given?"

While we may not always agree, I consider carefully what they say. They are wiser than I and further along on the spiritual path. Their thinking is more feminine so they bring a wholesome womanliness to my life. We asked, "Is God pleased?" as we faced new possibilities and challenges yesterday. Today I am -- once again -- so grateful for their counsel and their prayers.

Who's holding your feet to the fire? Who tells you to your face what they think about your attitudes, ideas, and lifestyle? If you are in any circle of influence, please gather a trusted Few around you who can speak truth. They may be the only ones who photograph the elephant in the room and make you sit down to look at it. They'll bring equilibrium, whether times are sunny or stormy.

Thank you, WPPRs. You have been God's words and life and breath. This morning, I celebrate the gift of God in you!

Read more:
*Psalm 26; Genesis 46:1-27; Matthew 16:5-20

You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God. Psalm 40:17

*Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. Isaiah 42:1

*One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, 'You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.'"Mark 1:9–11 NLT

*A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Mark 1:40-41
*Jesus Christ received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." 2 Peter 1:17

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father in whom the world delights, we give you honor and praise. You sent your Son into the world to redeem us of our sins. Your voice still echoes, "This is my beloved Son." Thank you for the confirmation that Jesus Christ is Lord.

O God our help in ages past, may we take up our cross and emulate our Lord Jesus who was not afraid to be a servant by helping all in need. Amen.

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