Monday, October 17, 2011

Bridges of Growth

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
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1 Corinthians 12:4-6  

There are different kinds of gifts, 
but the same Spirit.  
5 There are different kinds of service, 
but the same Lord. 
6 There are different kinds of working, 
but the same God works 
all of them in all men. 

I was given a lovely inspirational book on Courage and Inner Strength by a friend for my birthday. I have been enjoying reading through the collection of quotes and poems.  One spoke of the times when we feel lost and like the world is collapsing all around us, as being like bridges of growth. In those times we have no idea how we will make it from moment to moment. Yet somehow we do make it through that day and the next day and the next and before we know it we are looking back and we realize that we have grown.

I find that more and more I am thankful for the challenges that come my way. Not that I go out looking for them and I do my best not to manufacture problems. I do sometimes feel like I live in the land of missfit toys. So many of the people around me are struggling with mental illness, or the effects of brain injuries, or emotional trauma, or poverty of some sort. I seem to have swallowed a magnet that draws people who are broken and hurting and needing someone to believe in them. I must have at some point traded up to a bigger magnet because for many years people said I had swallowed a kid magnet and was always ministering to kids and teens. I'm not sure when it changed but I look around and I know that it has changed. I think many of the things I have been through have been bridges for growth that have given me greater compassion.

A wise man once said, "whatever came to me, I looked on as God's gift for some special purpose. If it was a difficulty, I knew He gave it to me to struggle with, to strengthen my mind and my faith." That idea has sweetened and helped me all of my life. ~ Anonymous 

The kid magnet thing I spoke of earlier. During that season of my life I was barren and it seemed that having children was not in God's play book for me. For a while I thought it was God punishing me for the promiscuity of my youth. I finally got over that and was able to receive God's forgiveness. It was still 15 years before God would give me children of my own. In those years my life was very rich with children.  Isaiah 54:1 Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.  In that season I sang and sang and I got to minister to hundreds of children. The season has changed and I think it started with a prayer that went something like this. I was reading the book of Acts and my prayer began to be I want to live a life like the believers in the book of acts. I want to see God do mighty miracles in peoples lives. I don't just want normal American church where folks go to be entertained. I want to be in the middle of people who are desperate for God. Who know they can't make it with out Him. I want to be in the middle of people who like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who would say in the face of death "17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  I want to be around people who believe that God can and will deliver them. Who even if he does not will serve and worship him to their final breath.
I suppose one should be careful what they ask God for, I am however privileged to walk daily among such a people. God has answered that prayer and made me ambassador in the land of missfit and broken people. I suppose I fit right in because God has patched me back together so many times that I have lost count. In that land I am inspired by people of tremendous faith and courage. These folks are overcoming things that are not for the faint of heart. I have found that in our brokenness that we need each other more than people do who are not so broken. We become living stones in a spiritual house. 
A bit more from the passage in 1 Corinthians 12  21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 

I guess my point of this devotional is that the things you are facing can be bridges of growth in you life and you don't have to travel alone.  When you are broken you quickly realize that you need others and surprisingly others need you and I think that God is pleased when we begin to work together to accomplish His purposes. We each come to the table with something to offer and much to gain.

Dear Lord,
Help us to walk across the bridges of growth that you have placed in our lives. Lord help us to reach out to the people around us. Help us to not look upon our own brokenness in despair thinking we are of no value. Help us to realize that God is pleased when we bear with one another in our weakness. When we are weak He is strong. We are your hands and feet so help us realize that I may be the hands and while another may be the feet and until we learn work and walk together we sit like the lame man at the healing pool in John 5 waitng for our healing. When perhaps our healing is found in learning to depend on each other.

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