"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Even Meerkats Need A Place To Belong

It is a good thing to belong. To a gym, to a book club, to one of those cult bunco groups, to a special interest group (like the Save the Meerkat Foundation which keeps them from being made into the warm meerkat stoles and accessories) or to just belong to an office that is like a family. To belong to a group where you can be open and honest, angry and snarky, laugh, cry, make an idiot of yourself and generally embarrass you and your group in public. It seems that most of my life I have been a part of some type of group that tended to the latter. In high school, I was a band nerd….’nuff said, even though band nerds can have quite a raucous time when left to their own devices.
In college at Georgia Southern, I was a Greek, which led to many hours of mindless and fun adventures. One of my friends dated a girl at UNC-Chapel Hill and would often take a couple of us guys along with him for a weekend trip and would get blind dates for us. I was the lucky guy on one such trip to get the real blind date…as in no vision…. as in can’t see a lick. And to make the weekend more fun, we all went to see “The Poseidon Adventure”, the one movie with virtually no dialogue, so I kept trying to explain to my date that a boat had turned upside down and they were trying to get out. For two hours, I explained this.
Now, I belong to a group fondly called the “Monday Night Supper Club”. The odd thing is that right now we rarely meet on Monday nights, but whenever our various work schedules will allow. However loose our meeting times may be, we are always guaranteed to have a couple hours of leaving the world outside and just enjoy the company of each other. We talk about books read, of songs heard, of friends and family. We complain about jobs, engage in some degree of good juicy gossip and talk about days ahead with aging parents, our own aging bodies and then go off in whoops of laughter because we know that growing up is inevitable. We share good news and sad news; we laugh and sometimes cry with each other. We know each other well because, well, we have the unspoken rule that we let our guards down and just be ourselves at the “supper club.”
As I began with, we all have an innate need to belong somewhere that we are accepted as just us - warts and all. My supper club group may not always be in existence, my college buddies have their own lives now, my other assortment of quirky friends may be in and out of my life, however the one constant group to which I belong is the family of God. He has seen me through days of growing up and seemingly staying in trouble at school or at home. God has led me through the tragedies of having my dad pass away, of losing my best friend to a car wreck and having the best dog in the world, Murphy, to die after 15 years in my life. God has rejoiced with me as I accepted His Son as my Lord and Savior, as I worked in ministry as a profession and as a volunteer then as I began to write columns about my walk with Him, publishing my first book and ultimately leading to my job here at the Times.
By belonging to God, we are guaranteed a guide, a comforter and a friend who will never leave you in need. We are promised that there are physical people around us who can support us when we need it and have a blast with when we need that. God’s group is the best one to join if you can just let go and give Him the chance.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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