During February we’re focusing on discipling others. Please see the Monthly Prayer Focus page to read our strategic prayer request for this month.
By Hannah Paris
Don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain I have God’s relationship to man completely worked out. After lovingly knitting us together in the womb, counting the hairs on our head at any and every point of our existence, having His heart broken at our choice to live apart from Him in sin, and intentionally saving us from that sin at great cost to Himself, He becomes our annoying big sister. People more theologically aware than I may not agree, but in my experience God has perfected the art of button pushing as only annoying big sisters can. Having been a little sister with a big sister, I’m an expert on sisterly relationships. I thought my own big sister was the best at button pushing with her talented sneak attacks (you know, pulling the seat belt tight so Mom would never know why I really spun around and started screaming like a banshee), but she doesn’t hold a candle. Perhaps God’s impressive abilities to target the exact button that will get the most kickback has something to do with the fact that He’s the Creator and knows us each better than we know ourselves. Not sure, but He’s good.
I’ve been reflecting on God the Button-pusher lately. One day I had an encounter with one of our national coworkers, Mary*, as she worked through a horrible home situation. Her husband had brutally beaten her, and she just wanted to pray together. I didn’t feel happy about how I handled the whole situation, but I did feel done. I’d done what He asked me to do, it was super uncomfortable, and that was that. The mess-ups are now in His court to straighten out, but I at least gave Him something to work with. You’re welcome, God. Then my husband came up with the idea of having Mary over for lunch once a week on the days she works nearby. Ummm… sure. Wait, what? But my routine? Okay, I’ll say yes, but in my heart I know I’ll probably never do it. So it’s not scary because I won’t actually follow through. But I’ll say yes to indicate my willingness and ability to be spontaneous for the Lord. Which totally counts. Oh, and you’re welcome again, God. For my willingness to be fake willing to do more uncomfortableness for you. Sigh of contentment.
What was God’s response? To send Mary with a project on her heart that will bring more discomfort and disruption in my life. Button pushed.
Shortly after the first encounter I had a play date planned with a mom from another mission organization. I was excited to get time with her, since between her busy schedule and mine we had been bouncing possible dates off each other for a month. It was finally happening. Then she called the morning of the play date canceling because they were sick. Brian had already planned his day around not coming home for lunch, so I was free to have someone over. And there was Mary. Standing at our back door to get the keys for the building she was supposed to work in. Button pushed.
I invited her to come back for lunch. She happily accepted as I scrambled to figure out what I would serve her. Peanut butter sandwiches and Twisties would have to do. Around noon she climbed our stairs and settled right in with my daughter while I finished slathering the bread with crunchy peanut butter. We didn’t talk about much at first, but I warmed up. Then she started the dreaded pattern of communication in Tok Pisin that indicates the speaker is going to ask for something. Like a computer. Or a car. Or a trip back to America (all of which were running through my head like panicky mice). She didn’t. After a long introduction, she asked if I would be willing to partner with her in starting a ladies’ prayer group including all the women in the office. Not just white, not just black, but all the women together. She wanted a platform where we could come together to strengthen the work being done, as well as to have a time to share one another’s burdens. She wanted the group to meet once a week, every week, at our house. Not just the weeks where I’m feeling particularly spiritual or particularly missionary-ish. All of them. Button pushed.
I didn’t say yes immediately because I didn’t want to be impulsive about making such a big commitment. It’s not like back home where you can say yes to organizing something like this and then flake if it’s just not your thing. By committing to walking with her in this, I’m doing it whether I feel like it or not. I’m doing it whether other people (besides Mary) come or not.
I talked to God. I talked to Brian. I talked to the person that oversees the employees. I even had a completely unintelligible conversation with my toddler about it. And everyone said yes. Except the toddler who maybe said something about juice. Or cheese. Or please. They all sound the same. Button pushed, so we started.
Since this started last year, the group has grown and developed. We’re now alternating the focus of our gatherings so that one week we’re studying the Bible and the next we’re having fellowship and prayer. It’s exciting to see where this is going and how God has (and continues) to push people’s buttons to develop it.
Hannah is the mother of two very small girls and wife to the Branch Director, Brian.