Debbie Salter Goodwin
A Time to Gather
I am a gatherer from way back. I love the gathering process. I get ready for a day in the kitchen by gathering supplies and cooking utensils. It stimulates me for the work ahead. I love packing for a trip. I stack neatly folded clothes, lay out toiletries, grab several what-if-I-need-this items.
Gathering is the work of preparation. It prepares me for something; builds anticipation for it. The activity or journey becomes real the more I give myself to gathering.
Gathering is something God does well. In creation He gathered the waters to make the oceans. He continues to gather people who can do something together they cannot do separated. But the gathering image most precious to me is God gathering the lambs in his arms. I want to be gathered like that. Don’t you? I want to hear the gathering call of God every day. I want to find my safe, secure place snuggling close to the heart of God. I want to receive His affirmation for my day before I start living it.
If I don’t give myself to gathering work for my day, I fall too quickly into the rhythms of my own making. I choose expedient over seasonal timing. I procrastinate, waste time, replace busy to the extinction of effective, and wear out because I do not use the sustainable energy God would give.
I can overdo gathering. I can lay out more than I need, stuff the suitcase too tight, load my airplane carryon with more weight than my poor shoulder needs. I think there is a warning there. Don’t over-prepare; leave room for God!
Gathering can also apply to our coming together for worship. But not just our bodies; we have to bring our hearts. We have to take our fearful, hopeful, discouraged, grieving, joyful hearts to God without pretending we are better than we really are. Then, in gathered unity; we affirm the God who made us, will lead us, will never fail us. The irresistible sound and substance of this heart-to-heart gathering is magnetic and will gather more within its healing, saving circle.
When it is time to gather, make sure it is God’s invitation you follow. He calls you to gather by His creative design and empowerment. Then, your gathering brings unity, peace, balance, order—all the components God invested in His creation from the beginning. If it doesn’t, spend a little more time in His arms as a lamb. His heart will tell you what you are missing.