Friday, May 11, 2012

Outward: The Circles Widen

I remember when I was in the Army and all I had to think about was me.  Saturday morning I would rise when I was ready, eat when I was hungry, and go wherever the day took me.  When I was tired I went to bed, and if I was bored I would call a friend.

Then I left the Army and met Karen.  Suddenly we decided when to get up and go to bed.  Saturdays we decided where to go and what to do.  Chick flicks were now on the movie going agenda.  The budget included rent, utilities, and insurance.  And I didn't need to make my bunk all by myself!

Along came Chris.  Suddenly he defined when we got up and when we slept.  Or if we slept.  He defined which Disney film we were going to watch, and what kind of food we were going to eat.  Saturdays were no longer mine.  They were ours.  But I laughed, and cuddled, and wrestled, and played in ways a single soldier never could.

Jennifer added a new dimension.  Now there was little boy things, and little girl things.  The kids swam, played golf, played soccer, and filled our home with joy, laughter, and their friends.  Watching them grow and become was, and is, the greatest joy of Karen's and my life!!!

Jennifer and Chris added Shannon and Jeremy to the family.  Now six people made decisions about where we were going on vacation and what restaurant we would go eat at.  Six people and their luggage filled the car.  Christmas and Thanksgiving grew, birthdays grew, Mother's Day and Father's Day became more complicated.  Suddenly we were sharing our children with three other schedules and groups of people.  But a pride began to fill our hearts about what our family was doing, and who they were becoming.  We watched as our children began to send a ministry ripple of their own out into the world.

Along came Zoe, Hannah, and Luke.  Each one was a super blessing but now we take two or three cars on vacation.  Nine plus Nate and Birget fill our dining room table.  Christmas looks like an explosion at a Target store.  Dinner now includes vegetables and salad for everybody on a diet and mac and cheese for those who are not.  When the kids sleep over and they climb up into my lap for a bedtime story my eyes fill with tears and my heart pounds in my chest.  My cup is full and I don't know how it could get any better.  I would not trade these little treasures for anything in the world.

Life Group meets on Wednesday night and adds another dimension of OIKOS.  Sunday morning adds a hundred more.  Now we have a medical group, a mechanic, an accountant, and a dentist.  There is the checker at Staters we talk to and the waitress we invite to church.  Our kids joke that we can't go anywhere without getting into a conversation with someone.  Each one of these precious people has a story, an OIKOS, a spiritual journey.  When I see what God is doing in the lives of those He is using I am blessed and humbled to be in the mix.  I see the circles growing, spreading, and bearing Kingdom fruit.

Gone are the days when my life consisted of budgeting $326.10 each month.  Making my bunk.  Straightening my clothes, washing my VW Bug, and deciding when, or if, to get up on Saturday morning.  But when I think of all the rich, wonderful, blessed people that God has brought into my life I could never go back.  It is busier, messier, and harder yet more gloriously wonderful than anything I could have imagined!

The older we get the larger our circle grows.  God designed us to handle more people, relationships, and responsibilities at each stage of life.  As Christians, we have the privilege of inviting people to join God's family and enter our OIKOS.

If there was only me, I would have no idea what to do!  Life would be dull without the coming, going, and growing.  If I did  not have my parents above me, wife beside me, church around me, children behind me, and grandkids in tow I would not know what to do, or where to go.  So I praise God for my OIKOS, even on the craziest of days.  I know that God wants my heart and home to be open to all whom He chooses to send.  Because some people are still floating on their own, and they haven't begun to grow and build their circles.  They need to plug in, and learn how.

I don't know what season of life you are in.  But whatever it is, and wherever you are, God will give you the grace, strength, and wisdom to welcome those whom He brings to you.  Rejoice in your growing circle, and rest in God's provision.  Even on the craziest of days!

I love you,
[Pastor, Poppie, Paul]

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