Do like the otters do

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I got to bring the message to our church. I am a mother of two handsome teenage boys. I am married to their amazing father, and have been for going on twenty one years this month. However, I was raised by a single mother for most of my childhood (from the age of four to twelve). My mother took us out of an abusive home, to start over with nothing, and did not remarry until I was almost a teenager. In that time she was single she went to night school, we moved from living together in a bedroom at my grandparents (there were four of us), to moving into section eight housing and then she bought a home while I was still in elementary school. We took dance lessons and she was at our dance recitals. We played softball and she was one of the coaches. My academics did not suffer because I was in a home of a single parent.

According to The Life of a Single Mom Ministries founder, Jennifer Maggio, “There are approximately 23 million single moms in the United States. And with divorce rates at approximately 50% and 1 in every 2 babies being born outside marriage, these numbers are expected to rise. 67% of today’s single parents are not actively attending a local church.” There are many reasons, number one is that they do not think they will be accepted. The church will not understand or be compassionate of what they are going through. A third of my church is made of of women that have been or are currently single mothers.

Church it is time to do like the otters do. I googled otters and this is what came up, “To prevent themselves from floating away in the swirling sea while they sleep, sea otters often entangle themselves in forests of kelp or giant seaweed to provide anchorage. … This is also the reason why they hold hands. They do so in order to prevent themselves from drifting away from the group.

I was watching a show on Hulu, called Station 19, and in this episode some of the firefighters were on a dinner cruise. A couple of the guys go off to have a private conversation, one being the chief, he clutches his chest and falls over the rails. The other firefighter just jumps in after him. Another firefighter witnesses this and grabs a life vest to put on himself, a life preserver for some one to grab onto, then jumps in. He tried to alert the crew inside running the boat, but they were not responding, so no one else knows that they have all just jumped overboard and are floating at tight in the Pacific. The boat is gone from sight in minutes. The one with the life vest suggested they do like the otters do, hold hands so they do not drift apart and help each other stay afloat. The chief is dead and floating in the life preserver, the one without the vest refuses and says he will just hold onto the dead thing (which is going to eventually sink). This is where I got my message for Sunday. God said, this is the state of the church right now. They do not see the gift of the body that He put together to strengthen us. Yes, He gave us the Holy Spirit, but He did not create us to be alone separated from His body (the church).

We like to quote Philippians 4:13, I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace] (AMP). Check out what Paul says next, verse 14, Nevertheless , it was right of you to share [with me] in my difficulties. In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes, Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love] (AMP). He is writing to believers. He is writing to the churches. He goes on to write in Philippians 4:15-19, And you Philippians know that in the early days of preaching the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I do seek the profit which increases to your [heavenly] account [the blessing which is accumulating for you]. But I have received everything in full and more; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me. They are the fragrant aroma of an offering, an acceptable sacrifice which God welcomes and in which He delights. And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (AMP).

By resisting the body, and the gifts that it has, we are missing out on this heavenly account. By looking at the body as a gift and receiving from each other, blessings can be accumulating for each other. We are called to be generous givers. This is not just talking about finances. This is talking about our talents, our spiritual gifts, our wisdom and knowledge. The early church gave everything to see the needs of each other met. We look at each other through the lens of hurt and do not see how they can or if they would want to be a part of their lives. A healthy church will see the value in each other and will want to see each other succeed, no matter their status in life.

It is time to do like the otters do!

Who does not like gifts?

Matthew 7:11 (AMP) If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.

We are coming up on what my husband likes to coin the “trifecta.” In May is my birthday, anniversary and Mother’s Day. Each of these days are less than a week from each other. Some years Mother’s Day and my birthday will even fall on the same day, and just a few days after that is our anniversary. This time of the year use to stress my husband out for getting gifts, but do you know that he has learned, to not just gift me on these days. He gifts me just because.

There is a book by Gary Chapman called God Speaks You Love Language (How to experience and express God’s love). If you have never heard of love languages there are five main love languages, and one of them is what you mainly speak. They are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. My love languages that fills me up are words of affirmation, second gifts and then acts of service. My husband’s are quality time, physical touch and gifts. I have learned to speak his love language and he has learned to speak mine.

When we look at the above verse, then look through it the eyes of God speaking your love language, what can you see in your life? Do you see how God shows His love to you in personal ways? I do. I was crying in disappointment for something that I was preparing for. We are doing everything right to get our church in the place it needed to go. We are speaking the vision. We have had our eyes on a piece of property for a year. We are working on saving up to purchase it debt free. We, in the natural, were nowhere close. However, I serve a God of the supernatural. We found out that the land was gifted to a mega church in our area. It was disheartening. Just as I was weeping in grief, a friend, who I had not heard from in a long time sent me a text, “I was just thinking about your beautiful face…” I have had messages from complete strangers to encourage me not to give up hope. These are the moments that God shows up. I knew that He had something better in mind. He is the God that sees.

I want to encourage you today to look at the different ways God shows you His love. Then I want to challenge you to show God your love for Him. Pick one of these areas: acts of service, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation and/or physical touch. You might say that you already show God love on a daily basis. Then can I challenge you one more time? Show love to someone that you do not usually show love to. Pick one of these love languages to show love to a stranger, a co-worker, your neighbor, your pastor or someone that knocks the rough edges off of you (Paul called him a thorn in his side).

Can I be honest? The love language I struggle giving to those that are not in my family, is physical touch. I can give gifts, serve others, spend time with others, and speak positive words of encouragement to people (right now I am working on jewelry to give to all the women who attend church on Mother’s Day for the message that I am preparing, while serving that day in my usual roles). When I do hug someone, usually they initiate the hug first. I have no idea why, I am not alone in this, and it does not mean we do not walk in love. That does not mean that if it is your love language, physical touch, that I will not refuse to speak it. Why? It is not love when we refuse to try to speak someone else’s love language. We should look at it as a growth opportunity, an offering to the God that we love.

I hope you will take me up on the challenge to look for all the ways God loves you. That you will speak a language of love back to Him. Also, that you will love His creation, those that were created in His image, by being more intentional with speaking these love languages. Have a blessed day!