For over a year, I volunteered every Tuesday night in a local transition home for people in recovery. Their life experience is very different than mine. Several of the people on my team were considerably more effective in this ministry than I was. But sometimes we aren’t the ones giving; sometimes we are the ones receiving.
One night I was doing a brief presentation on dealing with our emotions—a hot topic in the recovery community—then we broke off into smaller groups to talk about how to apply the lesson. Roger (not his real name) was in my group. Roger is always quiet and doesn’t say much. He usually sits a bit away from the rest of the group. On this particular evening he was staring out the window, off in what I assumed was la-la land. In an attempt to draw in his attention, I asked, “Roger, what are you thinking about?” He said, “Well, I was just thinking that last night I was being stingy. It was about a piece of cake. The way I acted, I was being stingy and selfish. My father told me a long time ago never to be stingy.”
Although I had assumed not much was going on, God was working with Roger on a very deep character level. He was going beyond just the emotion he felt to a much deeper place of reflection. He was responding the spirit of God. It was amazing to see Roger processing at a deeper level of spiritual sensitivity than I generally do in my own life. Even if the mind, body or heart is wounded, the spirit is intact.
At least I had the sense enough to be quiet and not get in the way. We were on sacred ground. You wouldn’t know it to look around at the place. It was drab and ordinary. Yet the people in this recovery community were making it sacred ground, as God spoke to me through them.
Sometimes we need to intentionally put ourselves in contexts where we don’t feel comfortable. We need to look at the people we don’t normally look at. All people need to be discipled– people coming off drugs, people with mental illness. Don’t overlook the people who don’t fit into our churches. Who is outside of your normal sphere that you can disciple and reach out to?