Something I Have Been Thinking ABout

In the end of chapter 2 of the book of Acts we are told about how people were devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and prayer and how everyone was giving of their resources for the good of the whole group and daily people were being brought to the faith. We see the same sort of report of the early church being given at the end of chapter four as well.

We don’t have a lot of information like how much time passed but by the time we get into chapter six they are starting to suffer growing pains. Word gets out that some of the widows were being neglected and not being properly taken care of. We aren’t given much more than the bare bones description of the dispute and when Rob referenced the passage Sunday in his sermon my mind, as it is wont to do these days, began to ponder the passage.

I wondered how those widows handled their lack. Did they whine and fuss? Did the grumble and gripe to all and sunder? I’d like to think that they didn’t do those things. That maybe they were already practicing what Paul would write down later about learning to be content no matter their state. Maybe they noticed they weren’t getting as much as others in the daily distribution and just shrugged it off the first few times before going in humbleness to the people that needed to know for the situation to be addressed later on.

We don’t know though because the Bible doesn’t tell us. But it does tell us something important that hit me in a new way.

Out of the widows need came the framework for a system of church government that is still in practice today. The primacy of preaching the Scriptures and a division of labor to handle the physical needs of the church was birthed by way of their lack.

And it made me wonder how I handle my own lack and my own needs when I have to wait for them to be met. Am I patient or am I so blind to everything except what I am going without? Am I able to see past myself to see what God might be doing for someone else through my own deficit? What good work might He be doing, not just in my life but within my community? Surely our emptiness and need has a place at the table otherwise what would be the use of our talents and gifts?

If I am being honest I must admit that I really don’t want for much or go without often. But I must also honestly pray that God lets me respond rightly when it happens. Maybe that situation will bear out in much the way as it did in those early days of the Church and the word of God will continue to increase and faith will abound among the people of God.

Hello 2021!

Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

For some reason that was one of the first thoughts to come to mind this morning before I had even gotten out of bed.

Wherever you are, be all there.

I think for most of the world we may have started saying it in jest and somewhat tongue in cheek, that we just couldn’t wait to see the last of 2020. But somewhere along the way, as everything began to really pile on, I think we began to believe that if we just wished it so the turning of the calendar page would hold some kind of special magic that would ease the brittleness and uncertainty of life right now.

This morning I put up a brand spanking new calendar. I alternate years between Ansel Adams and some kind of folk art theme. I didn’t do it on purpose I just sort of fell into the habit. Last year, Rob gave me a beautiful large calendar of some gorgeous Ansel Adam black and white prints. This year we did a “time” theme for one of our 12 days of Christmas and everyone got a new calendar (except Emmy who didn’t need one so she got a lovely hourglass) and while I was shopping I bought my folksy art one that hangs just outside the main kitchen area.

And in a way there is something promising and magical about all of those blank squares. Opportunities seem to abound. Birthdays and anniversaries and other celebratory moments lay ahead. But the reality is dark days wait too. Bad things will come mixed in with the good and if all we marked time by was the freshness of a new year, the hope of this year being better than last year, then we are doomed to a miserable existence.

Because Covid is still a fact in our lives right now. Mask mandates, limited gatherings, and all the other craziness caused by the world’s reaction to the virus is still here.

The political landscape is still as divisive and unstable as it was on December 31, 2020.

The tension between you and whomever is still there.

The hard situation didn’t just poof away at the stroke of midnight.

Obviously a case can be made for what you need to let go of in the new year. But I’m not writing a blog post about how to step into a fresh new beginning. I’m writing one, probably as much to myself as anyone else, about not just marking time, waiting until whatever the heck 2020 was runs out of steam and we get our lives back.

We don’t get our lives back. This is our life. Now how are we going to walk in that? Just keep trudging along with the same weariness? No. We walk into this new year with Jim Elliot’s words ringing in our ears.

Wherever you are, be all there.

Not because we can somehow muster up enough strength to move the mountain or summon enough inner peace to sail calmly through the panicked seas.

But because He has promised that His mercies are new every morning, not just on January first.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion”, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” ~Lamentation 3: 22-24

You are, I am, exactly were God has called us to be. Because His love is steadfast, because His mercies know no end, because He is faithful, repent where you need to, forgive where forgiveness is needed, and ask God to give you new eyes to look at the people around you with kindness and humility, and a right perspective about your situation.

Wherever you are, be all there. Don’t live in limbo just waiting for something to be over and done. Don’t live as if the world is going to hell in handbasket.

Live rejoicing that the Light has come! God’s people, more than any others, should be walking into this new year hopeful and smiling. Our God is faithful even in the midst of utter havoc.

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.