Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Selah

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10

My church probably looks a lot different than yours. For one thing, I attend my church on Wednesday afternoons for two hours and then I also go for an hour on Thursday. The pews are usually little short, crayon-bright chairs and the worship music is a mix of children's silly songs and laughter and tears. We do spend a lot of time on our knees, crawling. We do spend a lot of time listening. We do spend a lot of time talking. We encourage, we exhort.

Children's physical, occupational and speech therapy. Two hours on Wednesday and one hour on Thursdays. That's where the Lord is teaching me right now.

We do have a wonderful church family that we worship with each Sunday morning. The music is gorgeous, the teaching powerful, the fellowship sweet.

But it's those Wednesdays and Thursdays that keep my heart the most tender, the most vulnerable for what He's trying to tell me.

The brightly colored gym room is buzzing, individual therapists working with children, a mosaic of needs and strengths and challenges and heartache and joy.

Kind of like church should be.

This child is learning to speak. That child is learning better self-control skills. This one is working to put one foot in front of the other. And that one is trying to crawl.

It's a happy place, this therapy gym. For children who have tasted the harsh stares of others, the comments of curiosity when out it public, this place is safe. Everyone here has something they are working on. Everyone here drew the short straw in some aspect of developmental life. They're all here to work, to learn, to progress.

Kind of like church should be.

One of the results of 7 of 8's stroke is that she has not integrated the infantile reflexes that are important to life as a newborn but must be replaced with maturation. When she turns her head to the right to look in the direction of a noise, her left arm lifts, a baby attempt to keep her balance. When she feels like she might fall over, she clinches her left arm to her chest, a movement that gives her a sense of stability. We are working to help her move beyond these reflexes, to suppress those newborn motions with signs of growth, movements of progression. As she learns to control those baby responses, she will be able to move on to more sophisticated, more mature movement. At the therapy gym, we work on equipping her, teaching her, helping her move toward greater mobility and development.

Kind of like church should be.

A place where it's safe to work on your challenges. A place where it's safe to sometimes revert back to your baby faith ways. A place where it's safe to be coached toward growth. A place where no one stares and everyone cheers. A place where there is no shame in your difficulties and no excuse for not getting back up.

I've come to love my little church services on Wednesday and Thursday. I'm seeing love in action. I'm seeing people with a passion for helping the weak. I'm seeing compassion, tough love, struggle and victory. I'm seeing kids who are going farther than was thought possible. I'm seeing joy in the midst of struggle.

Kind of like church should be.


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