“Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
This is a command not a suggestion. It is not love based on feelings or emotions; it is agape love, divine love. So, how should we respond to so great a love?
My husband, Bill, and I have seen the perfect response to this question played out in our small group. The remarkable way they show love toward each other can only be explained by Christ living in and through them. There are many stories I could tell of how sacrificial love is displayed in our group, but I have chosen one.
This is a love story about a couple in our small group, whom we will call Joe and Becky.
For several years Joe has had a debilitating disease that robbed him of his professional career, leaving him unable to contribute financially to the household. Becky, a small business owner, was left with no choice but to increase her work hours to keep their home afloat and assume the role of caregiver for Joe. Then Becky was hit with cancer and required chemo/radiation. This would mean a lot of time off work for Becky, as well as the added stress of knowing Joe’s care was completely dependent on her.
When our small group learned that Becky would be going for six weeks of chemo/radiation they immediately jumped in, saying, “Okay, this is something that must be taken care of, so let’s get at it.” One of our men organized a schedule of volunteers to take Becky to and from chemo/radiation each day. This was arranged for as long as the treatments took place. Our men provided assistance to Joe each day while Becky was gone; many times staying to help out after she returned. None of these men were experienced caregivers, but not one of them hesitated. Occasionally they took Joe out to lunch, which involved a walker and much careful assistance. The women arranged teams to provide meals every two days so that food preparation was never a burden. Two women cleaned Joe and Becky’s house each week. These two wonderful women sometimes enlisted others to help, but they were primarily the two who were always there. This all continued until Becky was strong enough to resume normal activities.
Then the medical bills began to pour in. Becky’s insurance did not cover all her expenses, and week after week the bills mounted. Of course, this was overwhelming and added a lot of stress to an already stressful time. Our group recognized another need. One Sunday during class we called for a love offering for Joe and Becky, and the response was amazing. It was enough to pay one of their largest medical bills. God is good all the time!
Once during an emotional moment, Becky told me that she couldn’t think straight and when people asked what she needed, she just couldn’t tell them, she didn’t know. She said, “But God knew what I needed, and you all knew before I knew.” Through much prayer and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, God’s love was shown to a brother and sister who needed it desperately. “This is how we are known as His disciples.”
Today, Becky is cancer free and doing well. Joe’s condition gets more challenging each day. Our group continues to watch over Becky and Joe in various ways.
Joe and Becky’s story is just one of many examples of how love has been shown in our group. After living the many years we have lived, we understand what it means to show Christ’s love, as well as what it means to receive it. Our small group expresses love with “boots on the ground” and, we have all felt that love many times.
Hospital visits, prayer before surgery, being there during the loss of loved ones—the list goes on…There are many more stories just like this one to be told….
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Carol Brown and her husband, Bill, are Birmingham natives. They have been married for 47 years and have one son, one daughter, and three grandchildren. They have been members of The Church at Brook Hills for 7 years and have led the Branches small group for about 4 of those years. Carol also leads a Women’s small group of about 14. In her spare time, Carol also enjoys oil painting, knitting, and reading.