Post by Pastor Tim Dillmuth – During the Month of Presentation, our family has committed to a serious time of planned contemplation. But perhaps our best time of reflection was, in fact, not planned at all . . . it was entirely spontaneous!
It all started a few months ago, while studying the Work of Mercy of Ransoming the Captive. We were challenged to get to know someone who was incarcerated. This challenge led us to get involved with Angel Tree. Angel Tree is a ministry of Prison Fellowship that provides Christmas gifts for children with a mother or a father who is incarcerated.
We received the names of two young girls who had a mother that was incarcerated. The mother indicated that she wanted a message included with the gift that read like this: “I Hope This Present Makes You Happy. Mommy Loves You, My Angels.”
We were so honored to be able to give a gift to these young girls, but at the same time we didn’t want to simply drop off a gift. We wanted to do this while sharing about the love of Jesus and within the context of an ongoing relationship with this family. So, we ultimately decided to invite this family to our house for a celebration.
And that is where the trouble started. The morning of their visit, we somehow found our house to be a complete mess. On top of that, we were all pretty worn out from a busy week of work, school, and extracurricular activities.
This escalated into some extremely bad attitudes by our children and finally into almost the whole household forgetting why we were actually having the Angel Tree family over to our house to begin with!
This is where the spontaneous reflection becomes relevant to the story. Thankfully, before we became too flustered, we all sat down in the living room and had a silent prayer of confession before the Lord. Then we talked about some of the selfish and prideful feelings we were having and why we were having them. We also decided that in the rest of the preparation for our visitors, we would rely less on our own strength and more on the Lord.
Ultimately, we all took personal responsibility for our actions, but it was also a good opportunity to introduce to our children the fact that the enemy is looking for opportunities to tempt and trip us up. 1 Peter 5:8 came to mind which says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
As a result, we were reminded of the importance of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in. We also gained a renewed focus on the Lord and a new perspective on the importance of reflection during those spontaneous moments that the Lord provides.
You see, it’s through these moments (both planned and unplanned) that the Lord teaches us and propels us to new growth in Him!
Our greatest learning experience that day was in the reflection, but we were also blessed to spend time with the Angel Tree family I mentioned above. We laughed, talked, shared snacks and prayed together during the hour that they spent at our house. And ultimately, we invited them back to share a meal with us after the New Year!
I will be sure to share how our relationship develops in a future blog post.