As Winter is quickly coming to a close and Spring approaches, I find myself in a time of reflection. Seasonal changes have been natural times in my life to reflect. I began working at Family promise in the middle of Autumn which quickly transitioned into Winter and is now too quickly becoming Spring. Reflection gives me space to learn and to be grateful. We can learn from both mistakes and successes and so we can be grateful for both as well. That’s the ebb and flow of life; darkness and light; sadness and joy; death and resurrection. Both are necessary for growth to occur.
In my short time at Family Promise I have already experienced great joy and great sadness. Vicarious joy when a guest achieves success in finding a job, meeting a savings goal, and especially when securing housing (sometimes for the first time ever). But also sorrow in moments of defeat; defeat that sometimes seems permanent but that I know deep in my soul is another opportunity to dig deep and overcome. An opportunity for these families to find that the great value God has placed on them really is there. An opportunity to experience greater levels of grace.
Family Promise is inundated with a culture of love, support, and giving that is made manifest daily in this place. While compassion is certainly to be expected in the work of an organization like Family Promise, I love the way that this culture of generous loving which extends far beyond financial giving becomes infectious to those who encounter it, including our guests in programming. I have seen time and time again guests offer help to one another through a listening ear, a hug, a word of encouragement, and many other ways, even upon first encounters. Guests are so often eager to find ways to give back. This is the economy of Love in action.
And I continue to witness acts of compassion offered by staff, guests, volunteers, board members, C2C partners, and many others involved in Family Promise at various levels which leads me to ponder the implications of these acts and the lessons that they teach. It is striking to note just how much I have already learned about life from Family Promise and from the guests themselves; more specifically about the way that life works in the Kingdom of Heaven. I have come to find that those I interact with on a daily basis here are incredibly gifted, kind, intelligent people who are full of grace and compassion. I am once again stung by the beautiful reality that I can so often resist: that I am not up on some sort of pedestal, seated above anyone else, with anything to offer; Christ is the only one with anything to offer us. Our part is to simply share the blessings that Christ has graciously lavished upon us and in doing so, multiply that blessing. Because blessings that are hoarded are diminished, but blessings that are shared are multiplied. Family Promise shares blessings.
Christ is alive in each of the guests (whether they see it yet or not) and He offers them everything that they need. My only position is to try to make it easier for them to recognize their status as the beloved of God. And often, the guests of Lawrence Family Promise offer me much more in the way of correct perspective on life than I could ever hope to offer them.
But that’s the Kingdom, isn’t it? Each of us supporting one another, making an offering of whatever Christ has blessed us with so that we might share and multiply our blessing to those around us; and we recognize that we are all offered a seat at Christ’s table and that we are all Family. There is always room for another and more than enough for each of us at God’s table.
I have recently been challenged with the concept that when we are blessed we ought to build a bigger table not a higher fence. That’s what God, as the initiator of all blessing does. In my short time here, I have already seen new programs being implemented and other programs being expanded. We are working to reduce barriers, to find more space at God’s table. That space has always been available we just couldn’t see it yet, thank God Christ continues to open our eyes.
Family Promise, in so many ways, is working to advance the Kingdom of God and looking to join in Christ’s work of love and hope. God’s table is far larger than we could ever fathom. I pray that I continually die a little more to myself each day so that I can see these truths more fully. The boundaries that I attempt to place on God’s love are not real; God’s love and God’s table are without limits. God’s economy is one of excess because shared blessings are multiplied and God’s blessings are vast beyond reckoning. At God’s table, there’s more room yet.
Family Service Coordinator, Family Promise of Lawrence