my own little part

There's been some talk lately about reorganizing the farm, since we have less workers now and are unable to provide all the care that it needed for the larger crops here. And, as usual when facing group challenges, the tendency is to try to come up with the "big idea" that will solve everything. Often the problems are very complex, though. And we know so little of all that is needed, especially when trying something new.

At our small group prayer time this week, someone suggested that in such difficult situations it has helped her to just focus on what little part she can do to help, even though that obviously won't solve everything. It's easier for us to understand how we ourselves can contribute, rather than trying to understand how all the pieces need to fit together. It's also easier to hear what God wants of us personally in this situation, rather than trying to hear what God wants every one of us to learn or do (it's probably impossible for us to know that about others).

In communal settings, though, there is a resistance to, a wariness about, a more individual approach like this. It is sometimes seen as too self-focused. Too much an individual decision I'm making for myself, rather than thinking about the needs of all and finding wisdom in the decision of the group, a decision made by all, for all. Sometimes communally-minded folks won't shift from this way of thinking until group failures push them to their breaking point.

But I don't think it should be a question of whether the group or the individual is making the decision. The question is whether the decision is obedience to God. (And obedience to a group of people should never be equated with obedience to God.) I guess I think there is more an attitude of obedience if we are just asking for guidance to do our own little part, not assuming that we are in charge of the whole show, not expecting to save ourselves by coming up with the "big idea," just asking to be shown the piece God has for us to do. And trusting that he can see how all the pieces need to fit together, and that he can move them into place in the right time. No Christian group or communal theology should ever try to stand in the way of such an attitude. Careful and humble listening to God is the best thing we can offer to those we live and work with.