We jokingly call ourselves the Dominoes Divas. Dominoes because we play a game called Mexican Train with—what else—dominoes, and Divas because we are—what else—divas! Okay, I’m just kidding about the divas part. We are anything but divas! But we have a good time together and over the years have become a close-knit group.
I say over the years because we have been doing this for somewhere around eight years, I think. My friends began it way back then as a means to reach out to me at a time when I needed some friends and fellowship. Robbie had been sick for a year and I had pretty much been housebound the entire time. Even when I could leave the house, I had a hard time tearing myself away from him and had become somewhat of a recluse. Several of the women in the church decided I needed some friends and some fun and if I wouldn’t get out of the house to get it, they would bring it to me!
I didn’t even know some of them at the time! And I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted to be a part of this. It had been rather thrust upon me and at the time I was an emotional basket case. I didn’t want to leave Robbie’s side, but it made me nervous having them come to my house every month. I couldn’t come right out and say that, of course, but somehow fairly quickly we began rotating the hosting. The idea was to get me out of the house more often.
I think they knew that I was dragging my feet a bit. I made excuses once and a while not to go, but they stuck with me, and as time went by and Robbie’s condition became less critical, I became more comfortable about being a part of the group and began to appreciate even more how these friends had ministered to me with their persistent friendship and caring.
Over the years our group has changed a bit. One friend dropped out, out of necessity, while we added three new friends. The format has never changed, though. We all chip in $5 and order pizza. The hostess usually provides dessert and some snacks to munch on while we play. We play, laugh, joke, talk, encourage one another, and try not to gossip until 9:00 or 9:15 when everyone heads for home.
I must confess, I still dread it when it is my turn to host. I, who used to be Miss Hospitality and who would have large groups of people in my home every weekend for years—well, I am older and a lot lazier now! And it is not that I am nervous or uncomfortable about it anymore, either. Having people over means I have to clean my house! It’s always a good thing, though, when company is coming because it stirs me to do a bit more than just the basics. (You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?!) The second thing I dread is trying to figure out what toppings to order on the pizzas! Decisions, decisions, decisions! For some reason, that little chore always throws me for a loop!
My turn came around again this last Thursday. I had it licked this time, though! I decided to deviate from tradition and not do the pizza thing. Bob was supposed to be out of town and would not be around to pick up the pizza, and I didn’t want to ask the ladies to stop for it. I hate paying delivery charges and tips. I decided instead to make Italian beef and barbecued chicken sandwiches. I bought small French rolls so that if they couldn’t make up their minds which to have, they could have both. I made fruit kabobs on long bamboo skewers to go with the sandwiches, and had the usual assortment of snacks.
For dessert I decided to do something different, as well. How much fun would it be to have six or seven different kinds of ice cream and a couple different kinds of cones and have everyone make their own double, or even triple-dip ice cream cones! Lots of choices, lots of decisions—and it all started in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store! In the end, I had to have a stranger help me decide which flavors to buy! I told you—when there are too many choices, I am not good at making decisions!
It turns out my friends aren’t any better at that than I am! I think they all ended up trying both kinds of sandwiches. And I just had to laugh at my friends, who normally aren’t real big eaters, layer on three, four, even five different kinds of ice cream in a big waffle cone—and then go back for seconds to try the flavors they’d missed! It was crazy—and so much fun! And yes, we actually did get around to playing dominoes!
Choices. We make them every day, whether we like it or not. What to wear? What to make for dinner? What to do first from my to-do list? Which brand to buy? What to order off the menu? (I especially dislike that one—too many choices!)
My friends chose, years ago, to minister to me at a time when I really needed it. I’m sure they had plenty of other things they could have done with their time. They chose to hang in there when I was reluctant. It might have been a lot easier to say, well just forget her, then! and move on. There were others to whom they could have ministered, I am sure. Instead they continued to offer their friendship and fellowship and to show how much they cared. I had to eventually make the decision to step out of my isolation and choose what they were offering. I am so glad for the decisions we each made back then. Our little group has been a blessing, I think, to all of us.
There is so much more to ministry than preaching or teaching, soul-winning or discipling. Just being there for one another, sharing a burden, listening, showing kindness—those are things all of us in the body of Christ can do for one another. I have spent most of my adult Christian life teaching, leading, writing, and sharing the Word in one way or another. I have often had people tell me that my words meant a great deal to them. What my friends did for me, though, in just meeting my needs for friendship and fellowship, being there to share the burdens and to show they cared—well, their actions did far more for me than words could ever have done. I am so thankful they made the choice to share their lives with me.
We all have our part in the body of Christ. Let us each be faithful in whatever ministry the Lord has called us to do. Even when we are not especially or specifically given the spiritual gifts of giving or helping, however, we are all called to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord and to show kindness and share burdens. Let us make the right choices, even when it is not easy, to minister to one another.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ…As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:2, 10)
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality…Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:10, 13, 15)
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. (Romans 15:1, 2)
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (II Peter 1:5-7)
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering… (Colossians 3:12)
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted… (Ephesians 4:32a)