Living in the Messies

Principles that guided our small group as we navigated the rough and muddy waters of human life.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was a fairly new Christian, leading my first small group of singles. The topic was how to be happy though single and was aimed at those who just knew that life would be so much better if only they were married. My co-leader and I were prepared to challenge that assumption, and God gave us the perfect vehicle.

Sandy, one of the girls in the group, had met a friend at work. Tom was married with four children. He had just learned that his wife, Vicki, had had a brief affair. He was devastated, but in his pain, he was open to the gospel. Over the next few weeks, Sandy shared the gospel with both Tom and Vicki. It was about then that our group was starting, and Sandy talked me into inviting Tom and Vicki to join us. They needed Christian fellowship, and their story would offer a great object lesson that marriage does not solve every problem. They were apprehensive, but since they were heading toward singleness anyway, they joined us.

As our group started, there was an instant bond among us. It was a closed group, and we were all committed to find a way to live with the longing for marriage. No matter what the topic, Tom and Vicki’s perspective offered a reality check.

Before long, their pain could not be contained. Vicki was still in contact with the other man, and Tom could not handle it. They decided to separate, but both still wanted to be part of the group, which by then had become family to them. We helped them move to separate homes. We cared for their children. We offered biblical wisdom. We cried with them. We continued to love them, even after they filed for divorce, sold their home, and Vicki chose to leave the group. Not once did it occur to us to engage in discipline ...

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