Many Augusts ago, I picked up the limp body of little Jamie. The world went on for the multitudes but ours came crashing down and our lives have been forever changed! This August people dotted all over the globe are experiencing their own tragedies. Poverty ravaged Haiti has been terribly shaken. Great swaths of the Earth are ablaze with uncontrolled forest fires. Heat and covid are continuing scourges. On a macro scale it is devastating but for so many the personal tragedies are heart breaking and life shattering.
As our gaze is fixed on the horror of this August, people sometimes wonder “How a “loving God” could allow such?” This is a natural question and I certainly asked it myself and yet it need not be a faith shattering question.
My faith is not based on my judgement of God and whether I deem Him loving or just. It is based on historical fact. It is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus! This is as I say an historical event and as such does not change though all the mountains should crumble or Gibraltar tumble.
My faith sustains because it is settled on this unshakeable foundation. From that foundation, then, I can ask all sorts of questions. No question is beyond the bounds. Tragedies draw me to God as I seek not just his answers but better still his comfort. Tragedies draw me closer to others as we think about the folks of Haiti or Canada’s West and beyond. It draws us closer as we gather in groups virtual or real, big, or small, to pray.
These times demand the very best from us as we heed the command to love like our sacrificial Saviour. They demand to that we are not shy about proclaiming the Good News of God’s love. Sometimes we let people’s questions deter our evangelism when, in fact, they provide an opportunity we ought not pass up.
When I think of the cross, I am reminded that at the moment we would be most horrified God was most glorified. The Good News shines all the brighter in dark days. Let it shine, you in your small corner and I in mine.
On another note, scheduling ‘the trades’ has proved to be a challenge and our renovations at Threshold House are taking more time than I naively hoped. I am though confident that soon we will be able to announce the appointment of our ‘Night-time Pastor’ who will live on site caring for our residents in the evening and through the night. This is an important piece of our puzzle and has been a prayer concern from the formation of the idea of Threshold House. I believe this is a token of God’s favour on our efforts. PTL
There is a word I delight in from the Word of God and often cringe at from the lips of mortals. From the Lord it expresses the wonderful, amazing graciousness of God toward us. From us it connotes contrariness and cancelling. Too often it demonstrates that we are not actively listening to understand. We are ‘listening’ to respond. We are seeking to ‘win’ rather than discuss. I am trying to excise this word from my spoken vocabulary.
What is this word? It is “but”! God demonstrates his love with the many buts that intersperse the Good News. We were dead in our sin and trespasses … but God! The wages of sin is death … but the free gift of God is life! You see we are undeserving, we do not and cannot earn this grace, but God opts for us anyhow! I sometimes jokingly tell my Street Hope friends that we are in real trouble until God sticks his big but in! I love the many buts that God expresses. His use of the word is truly divine and brings life!
We on the other hand ought to be careful to use the word sparingly. It may have a place in conversation but (see the irony here) not the place we too often give it. For us it often begins a response to someone’s expressed thoughts. We have decided that our friend is wrong, or at least not entirely right and we front-load our rebuttal (doubling down on irony) with a word meant to negate what has just been expressed. With this three-letter word we dismiss not just the idea we might disagree with, but we dismiss the person expressing the idea. “But” does not engage and leaves our friend feeling unheard.
Rather than “but” we might rather say “I am not so sure.” Or “ I think I disagree” both of these acknowledge and engage while defending our own position. Or we might say “I see what you mean, and I think…”
When only seconds after expressing a heart felt thought I hear someone say “but” I feel my heart sink. While I hope I am open to correction or direction I also value feeling heard by people.
I have decided to leave this word to the Lord and concentrate on positive engaging conversation. “But” is an expression that can keep us polarized when honest listening dialogue is much more apt to draw us together.
On another note, things seem to be moving after a long covid hibernation. This week I took delivery of the showers for our Threshold House project and the contractor has begun the work of installation. Our prayers for a ‘nighttime pastor’ look like they are being answered. We are currently praying for daytime employment for our candidate as the last obstacle to his coming on staff. Financially we are headed into challenging times until we get up and running and we are trusting God.
I led my first, in person ‘mask-less’ Bible Study this week as I filled in for our pastor while he is on holiday. It was an enjoyable experience. We are also enjoying the freedom of singing without masks. I did not realise how much I missed that!
We are waiting to see how the new “Green” phase in New Brunswick goes before we consider restarting our Drop In. We would value prayers for this decision making. We do not want to disappoint people by starting something only to close again.
Grace to you all.