today was the last day of the bible study fellowship (BSF) book of romans study. my discussion group was supposed to be helping with the children's program today, but we got a last minute notice that instead we would be meeting with our regular discussion group. which meant i had to do my lesson! and i'm so glad i did.
the part of the letter to the romans that i usually gloss over was the part that spoke to me most during this study. paul, the author of the letter to the romans, closes it with greetings to numerous people, a warning to watch out for those who cause division, greetings from numerous people, and a final exhortation of glory to god.
typically i skim over the lists of people (genealogies, greetings). but this lesson forced me to consider it carefully. why did paul include these greetings to and greetings from? what is the significance? then it dawned on me. community. paul isn't doing his ministry alone. there were lots of people partnering with him to further the work of the gospel of jesus. some were jews, some were gentiles (not jewish), some were in prison with paul, some were city officials, many were women. the number of people listed alone highlights that this living and spreading the gospel thing is a TEAM effort -- greetings to 27 specific people in rome, greetings from 8 who were with him -- a total of 35 people. community is VITAL.
these people supported paul in many ways: they risked their lives for him, they supported him financially and otherwise, they shared his prison experience with him, they were his coworkers, dear friends, a mother of a friend who was also a mother to him. paul was not an island by himself working for his own glory. he was deep in community with many many people and all of their messy people-ness, and he accomplished the work god set out for him by working with others.
how powerful is that?! god works in community. we have the mystery of the trinity -- father, son and holy spirit. god is three persons and one entity. god has lived in community always with himself. it's natural that we would be created for community with him and with others. and that his purposes are accomplished when we live and work in community with him and others.
when i first met my discussion group and realized that two of the members had adopted children and my leader was in the process of pursuing adoption of an older child in foster care whose parental rights had been terminated, i was like -- WOW, COOL! three people to share the adoption journey! and i also thought -- well surely we will be growing our family by adoption this year if god stuck me in this group with these women! and here we are on the last meeting of this romans study, still waiting. it has now actually been a total of seven weeks since we last heard from our adoption specialist about a prospective birth mama and her babe. not where i thought we would be when i started this study in the fall!
as we were going through our lesson this morning and got to the last question -- what have you learned about god in this week's study? -- i had written "he works in community." and it occurred to me then that though this process has blown all of my expectations, god has been so gracious and kind to provide people to walk through this with me, people who have walked through it ahead of me, and people who are about to begin the process behind me. he gave me the gift of community. the gift of himself.
i have an adoption community through our church small group, through BSF, through my mothers of pre-schoolers (MOPS) group, through our transracial families by adoption group, through those walking through the process at the same time as us with our agency, through social media, through family. some are adoptees themselves. some are couples that have been placed with babies in the last year. some have children by adoption that have been part of their families for years. some are waiting to be matched and placed. some have adopted infants, some have adopted toddlers, some are waiting to adopt older children. some have adopted domestically. some internationally. some have adopted from their extended biological family. some have fostered. we've had couples that are considering embarking on their own adoption journey ask to meet with us and talk about ours. this shared experience, with each experience unique, is a powerful thing. i am thankful for our adoption community that has been established even before we are matched or placed.
the three principles from the BSF lecture today were regarding godly relationships. godly relationships (1) expand our capacity to serve, (2) encourage discernment, and (3) enlarge our thoughts about god. i believe there is a saying "if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together." our capacity to serve is expanded when we do it with others! and as i listen to the experience of others, adoptees and adoptive parents, my perspective broadens. as i see more of god in the people he has created in his image, the greater revelation of himself enlarges my thoughts about him. i see him at work even when the circumstances are confusing or hard or painful.
i continue to enjoy this sweet gift from god, my bina bina. she is going to be the best big sister someday! i am grateful that god allowed me to conceive and grow her in my body and then nourish her from it for going on three years. each stage i keep declaring "THIS is my favorite" and then the next one comes, and takes the cake. what an absolute joy she is with her unique god-given personality and temperament. i adore her.
this morning my sister-in-law sent me a text saying that she was praying and felt god say to tell me to believe for my baby. she said she's not sure how that baby will come to be, but to believe for the baby. throughout this journey i have really felt god telling me to surrender to the process and to find rest in him. so much easier said than done. he continually shows me his kindness through others, through his word, through his creation. i gave the milk i pumped last july to my friend who is back at work and pumping to sustain her youngest whom they adopted recently. i contacted her yesterday to give her my august milk. and another mama friend of mine dropped off her december milk to me that same day. as i'm giving away the milk i worked so hard to produce, god is filling my supply with new milk from my breastfeeding mama community. how sweet is that? now, i may be handing over all my pumped milk and my friend's december milk to that same friend who received my july and august milk. that is a real possibility. for now i surrender and wait, resting in my good good father who knows my heart and trusting that he is working in my heart and mind to prepare me for whatever lies ahead.
my prayer for me as i make the truth -- that god works in community -- a part of my life is that i would continue to find that community, and also be it for others. to god be all the glory, amen.