Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Being a "Good Neighbor" When Your Life is a Circus Act

Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself. 
~ Luke 10:27, CEB ~  
For years our ministry has had the great pleasure of supporting and leading the Moms Group at Christian Disciple Farm in Sullivan, Wisconsin.  This summer day camp is an outdoor VBS-style event for children of all ages with special needs and their siblings.  Families often take their summer vacation around this camp, with parents welcome to stay on the campus of this rural farm to be ministered to in their own peer group.  College and high school students serve as volunteers, making this a seasonal mission project for the week.  It truly is a remarkable event to behold! 
This year, we made the mothers' Bible time walk in complete harmony with what the children were learning through their Cokesbury curriculum.  Interestingly, the VBS theme this year is all about being a "good neighbor", while all the activities and decorations center around a circus carnival.  There has been plenty for the mothers to relate to.  For starters, we made sure that our group name included the word "Jugglers", because that seems to be a natural part of the calling of a special needs parent.

Next, we have explored probing questions regarding each day's story and Scripture theme.  These were not easy prompts to our chats, simply because it is not easy to juggle being the picture of a good neighbor while also parenting a child with medical, psychological or cognitive challenges.  You may want to do some self-reflection on these queries along with us:
  • Do you welcome everyone into your home in a friendly manner?  Why or Why not?
  • Did you know that you can't out-give God?  What are the hardest times for you to give?  To your kids?  Your spouse? Others?
  • How are you bold in goodness to your neighbor?  Do you ever get ticked when someone you know is unjustly treated?  How do you respond?
  • Who do you find it hardest to forgive?  Why?  What would it take for you to finally forgive?
  • If the Lord welcomes everyone, shouldn't we?  How can we leave this camp encouraging inclusion?
Did you find these questions to be simple?  I would hazard to say, probably not.  When our lives are complicated, it's tough to be loving and kind to everyone around us.  Yet, that is exactly what Christ calls us to do!
As I have reminded the moms I have the honor of leading this week, Whether you know it or not, people are watching you.  They are watching carefully how you respond to your circumstances.  When we we respond in unexpectedly pleasant ways, with kindness that is different from the predictable worldly response, people take notice.  YOU may be the only Jesus that people see.  How you reflect God's love and goodness in the midst of your storms can draw people to the Hope that goes beyond the hope of this world.
It's not an easy proposition.  We can only exhibit this type of neighborly behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Call out to Him today in the midst of your circus-like life, and let Him do the juggling for you.

PRAY:  Lord, so often my life feels like a three-ring act without the tent.  Infuse me with your Holy Spirit.  Only by Your power can I show kindness to my neighbor in spite of my circumstances.  Reflect Your glory in and through me, so that others can see that there's a hope You offer that's much greater than anything in this world.

Photo Image Courtesy of 123RF

1 comment:

  1. The Christian Disciple Farm gives my wife a break with the everyday routine appointments, nurturing and additional tasks that are needed. It gives her time to connect with other parents in similar life juggling circumstances where You and only You are being watched. Most people think it's the fault of the parents for how their kids are, in some cases - it is. But in the case of special needs kids - God has blessed the kids and the parents and given the task of overcoming huge obstacles in order to achieve goals that are easy for 98% of the other kids and parents of this world. Why do you ask the parents are blessed, the answer is simple - without those parents, that child would have no chance with someone who didn't care and have God in their lives. It is God that keeps us going with his awesome powers and ability and our faith that keeps the candle lit. The Christian Disciple Farm allows parents to recharge their batteries while getting a break and being able to see the 'Big Picture'. The kids with these parents are blessed in such that God will be in their lives and they will be raised knowing their will be something better and Jesus always has a constant watch on them. Amen!