I spent two of my three weekends in Colombia in “Kiwi House,” one of the homes established for children who come to the ministry and need 24/7 care. The caregivers in Kiwi are my good friends, I stayed there some when I lived in Bogotá, and my precious little J lives there now. I asked them to stop telling me thank you for pitching in with household chores, as I wanted to be part of the family. But what part?
Kiwi isn’t a traditional family, but it is God’s gift of Psalm 68 for the children living there. I couldn’t be the “mom” or the “grandma,” and I certainly couldn’t pretend to be a man! We settled on a visiting auntie and continued with the joke, “Well, I won’t thank you since we’re family.” I felt like family... what is it that makes you feel like family?
It is not good for man to be alone. Or woman, when you consider that God made her as a companion to start with.
It’s a classic wedding verse, and rightly so, given the context. It’s also a verse worthy of discussion in light of I Cor. 7, Isaiah 54, and the fulfillment found only in Christ Jesus. A dear friend, a widow, wrote of this verse one day, reminding me that it is not only marriage at stake. As believers, we are called to love one another. It is not good to be alone. And for this, God made family. Marriage. Children. The family of God!
I’ve no shortage of family, as anyone who’s seen a photo will notice. Maybe that’s why it’s been such a long process to leave them. I think my nephews are precocious and visit them (and their parents) often. I talk to my parents about everything. My younger siblings have kept me from turning into an old person early. I know why I feel like family with them: they’ve seen the worst in me and I know what they expect. Even if I mess up, they can’t get rid of me.
I live alone. Now God and I have had a lot of discussions about this (after all, my mom even makes the point that living alone makes you selfish, since you don’t have to work around anyone else), but this is what He has decided, now. Many times, I like that fact. For instance, I can leave clothes in the washer and shoes in the living room floor and NO ONE minds.
But sometimes I don’t like it. I wondered once, if I had a wreck during summer vacation, how long would it take for someone to notice my absence?
Apparently, I’m pretty adoptable... adaptable. Both. There are a lot of places I’m pretty comfortable and a lot of people who say “Just call!” I have a multitude of “moms” who like to make sure I’m fed and tell me to get some rest. I don’t even feel guilty calling the Johnsons every time I need a place to stay in Albuquerque, knowing I may walk in on a family gathering or it may just be us, sitting and chatting. They very much relate as the family of God.
(My friend Caro and her family, who took me into their home while I was in Bogotá)
But it is not good to be alone. When you aren’t with your family, you’re called away from your parents’ home, you aren’t married, how to heed this bit of wisdom?
It is here that we hear the call of the family of God. Perhaps they will come to you. Perhaps you must go to them. But “family” is more than just being comfortable and knowing limits of visitation. Family is give and take, serve and receive, encourage and admonish. Family is interruptions and availability.
I did live alone, sometimes, in Albuquerque, because I so chose. I didn’t “just call” and I crowded my schedule so that I wasn’t available or “interrupting”. I realized this week, though, that just as I am comfortable with my family because of such interaction, so I have the family of God because of interaction. In Kiwi house, thank yous were vocalized because they served me and received my gifts; I wished to encourage but came away as the recipient. Spending days on end with those of Kiwi made me available to experience life, to be interrupted by their personhood. I was not alone.
And I don’t really live alone anymore. There are a multitude of “just call” folks in Santa Rosa, of course, but more than that, God’s given me a built in “family” here, in my very driveway. Hardly a day passes that I don’t walk down, or they come up, to interrupt. They rarely ask for my help, but I try not to miss an opportunity to give it (the fact that such assistance may involve cows or horses is certainly an attraction). They give much to me, if I open up to receive; eating cookies in the rain goes a long way toward building relationships.They say thank you; I say thank you... but some things are just done, and left unsaid.
That’s because God has provided. I miss my family. I miss my family of Kiwi House. It is not good to be alone - but, if we live by His word... “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another... Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love...Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality... Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep...” (Romans 12:5-18)
Do I choose to obey? Because if I do, I will not be - alone.