The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2000 were a time of profound emotion for Larry and I. While overwhelmed with gratitude for an experience of remarkable community support, we had also just been told that our 2 1/2 year old daughter Carly had Angelman Syndrome. The news ripped our hearts. We suddenly felt strangely alone despite being surrounded by the love of friends and family.
Earlier that year, we had started an intensive home-based therapy program with Carly. Dozens of people from our church and neighborhood had stepped out sacrificially in a profound expression of practical helps and prayer. Yet for all of the developmental obstacles, a life-threatening seizure and then that devastating diagnosis, God had been using the love within that community to release miracles.
It wasn’t just about Carly. God was bringing about various kinds of unexpected healing. Carly was reaching surprising milestones but others were being shaped and changed through their intersections with each other too. Healing was unfolding in physical, emotional and spiritual ways. It was exciting and humbling to experience such a tangible sense of God’s power and love.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
With the encouraging evidence of God’s presence among us, Larry and I were asked to share some of the story with our congregation during a 4-minute testimony at the Thanksgiving Eve service. We had overflowing reasons to share but felt our passion would not allow us to stay within the time allotment and our tears of joy and pain would not allow us to speak.
Larry wisely suggested we use a video. It proved to be an efficient and effective way to express the depth of our gratitude and the growing passion we had to advocate for community that delights God.
That original video — Carly’s Thanksgiving Story — is posted here. (It’s now about 7 minutes long with the update Larry added in 2010.)
Tragically, there are many facing life-altering challenges without support modeled after God’s design for thriving community. Our family is blessed to know what it feels like to be embraced by God’s love through others. But we also know what it feels like to be abandoned. We have not always known such remarkable support. Thankfully, God also uses seasons of hurt and disappointment to stretch and strengthen us. Only God can do that!
“The sense of community that grew out of our crisis was a treasure we’ll be hard-pressed to match in our lifetimes. We were increasingly energized to see how God was magnifying His handiwork. God was bringing a ripple effect of healing into other people’s lives because of what was going on around Carly’s situation…a beautiful picture of how He designed community to work.” (Page 73)
“Yet for all the ways that community had the capacity for blessing, it also had the capacity to distract us from depending on Christ alone for our strength and solace. So maybe it should be no surprise that just when God’s light on that grand collective adventure was shining brightest, God chose that time to reveal the true nature of Carly’s challenge and reinforce our need to stay completely surrendered unto Him.” (Page 75)
With every passing year, we appreciate more and more how economically God uses life’s challenges. He is teaching us that there is a privilege and grand adventure in how life unfolds when it is wrapped within the power, love and grace of Christ’s presence.
So as we begin another Thanksgiving week, we are both grateful for how God uses community to reveal Himself and we are praying that His people increasingly learn how to live sacrificially and joyfully in the kind of Christ-centered fellowship He intended. But most of all, we are grateful to experience intimate relationship with the One who holds the world in His Holy Hands.
May you, too, personally experience the joy and peace of that forever Love Story!
What a wonderful summer it’s been reflecting together on the presence, love, power, and purposes of God. Especially when life is hard, it is easy to get confused or angry and tempting to question our faith. It is such a privilege to have God’s Word to keep us rooted in the Truth! These weekly reflections have been designed to keep us all focused on those Truths while providing an opportunity to explore how they apply to us personally and how they relate to the circumstances of our lives. Being able to discuss these things with an online community of people from all over the world is another of God’s great gifts. We certainly pray that this summer’s study has been that for you — a gift.
As we wrap up this cycle of “FINDING GLORY Wednesdays,” we hope you’ll continue to join us on Wednesdays as we circle back to the beginning and start a new discussion series this fall? In churches from Apple Valley, Minnesota to Brooksville, Florida, we are hearing about new groups starting, old groups continuing and some individuals just joining us as part of this “cyber group” online. We are praying new friends will join us and we hope you will help spread the word. If this has been a helpful process for you, please tell us about your experience and talk about it with others. May the Lord use it to encourage and bless many in their walk with Him.
Your “Glory Story” has influence with others by the power of the Holy Spirit. Talking about how God is present in Your life and heart has the power to change eternity for someone else. And besides that, sharing a faith story is part of your spiritual act of worship! Consider today’s scriptures and discussion questions:
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:10-12
In this passage, what two things have the power to conquer the accuser?
If you had 60 seconds to give someone the “word of your testimony” today (knowing it has this kind of power), what might you say? In other words, what would your Glory Story be?
Please consider sharing a Glory Story right here in the comments section below today’s post or by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can already envision God’s enemy shuddering at the idea that we are all sharing boldly of Christ’s power and presence in our lives!
This series has been based on the Finding Glory collection of resources by Larry and Lisa Jamieson and has included copyrighted excerpts taken from Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.