Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Church Programs: Necessary Crutches, Not Divine Ideals

A friend whom I respect greatly was talking with me about Home and Visiting Teaching recently, and she said something that I want to share here.  It's not new or uniquely profound, but it is powerful, nonetheless. 

My thinking is that if we lived as we ought, we wouldn't need a program to look after one another.

I usually tell a story to illustrate the point. My sister-in-law had three little girls when her fourth was born with down's syndrome. There was no forewarning of the abnormality and she found out when the nurse laid the baby in her arms. It was a shock that began a period of constant adversity. Unlike her other children, this newborn would not sleep. She had trouble feeding. She cried almost round the clock for the entire first year. One morning, as my sister-in-law sat in her pajamas crying because she had reached her wit's end, the phone rang. A sweet voice on the other end said, your name came to me when I prayed today. How can I help you? And help she did. She swooped in and gave my sister-in-law a much needed reprieve. No formal calling necessary.

And one from my own life. Our family was going through a soul-crushing period of adversity. I was home with our children. My husband was away. I was at my breaking point. It was Monday evening and I was skyping my sister. Feeling utterly alone and abandoned by God, my feelings spilled out as I tearfully wrote, "I give up. I don't think God even knows my address anymore." I signed off to go downstairs and make dinner for the children. As I exited Skype the doorbell rang. It was my bishop. "I had a feeling as I was leaving work that I needed to stop by tonight. Is that okay? My family is out of town. Can I have Family Home Evening with you? I brought ice cream." He held out the carton and I smiled wryly at God's impeccable sense of timing. He didn't just know my address, He knew my broken heart. This good brother had a calling but that's not how he ended up at my door. This was the most humble, genuinely charitable, and concerned bishop I've ever known.

I wish I were half as inspired. I need a program, like a crutch, to keep me upright and moving forward. But I hope I never make the mistake of confusing the hobbling I do aided by a poor prosthetic with running full speed with two good legs to be the Lord's hand and feet in this world.

Our programs are so much less than our potential.

1 comment:

Vorquel said...

Reminds me of my view of the Church in general. The Church is a temporal only backup system. Families are the eternal structure.