Sunday, August 17, 2014

Good Grief

“Don’t live as those who have no hope. All our hope is found in him.” – Trust His Heart by Newsong

This last week has been extremely challenging. One friend passed away. Another’s in the hospital at death’s door. And another, who is like my sister, is in a hospital hundreds of miles away fighting a serious infection. To make matters worse, Friday was the 6th anniversary of Mom’s homegoing. No matter how much you rejoice that a person is no longer suffering, it still hurts to lose them. And all of the sadness and suffering this week compounded those feelings of loss.

Still, in the midst of all this, I am reminded of Paul’s admonishment “don’t grieve as those who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13). Notice he didn’t say, “don’t grieve.” Grief lets us know we’re compassionate and loving and like our Savior who grieved at the loss of Lazarus. While I think Jesus grieved in part for all who loved Lazarus as well as for His own loss, I think He also grieved because when He made the world, death and suffering were not a part of His plan. Isaiah refers to Jesus as a man acquainted with many sorrows. (Isaiah 53:3) And Jesus Himself promises, “blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)

So I know as I grieve today, He is grieving with me. And I know since my hope is found in Him, I will also receive the gifts of His joy and peace. And ultimately, I know there will come a day when He will wipe away every tear and none of us will ever have to grieve again. (Rev. 21:4)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Boys in Jesus’s Boat

Daniel James Brown’s book Boys in the Boat tells the story of the 9-man crew team from the University of Washington who took gold in the 1936 Olympic Games amidst the backdrop of Hitler’s Germany. Before I read the book, I knew little to nothing about the sport. But with Brown’s vivid word pictures, you can hear the swoosh of the water under you and feel the wind on your face as you strain to help the team finish each race. He draws you in with poignant backstories of the team members and his narrative relates the rare moments of complete unity of spirit and synchronicity of movement the team experienced, an occurrence which Brown suggests led to their unimaginable Olympic victory.

While quite a riveting story, the tale cannot compare with the story of twelve men in a boat 2000 years ago who left everything not to chase a gold medal but to chase the Master of the wind and waves. Many of Jesus’s disciples were fishermen who became fishers of men. As such, they made many boat trips with Jesus including the one where Peter walked on water. During Jesus’s earthly ministry, his closest friends bickered about power and position, the sons of thunder asking who would sit at Jesus’s right hand when he came into his kingdom. But after Gethsemane and Calvary and the Upper Room, they became like the “boys in the boat.” The result was Pentecost.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:1-2

The chapter continues with Peter’s dynamic preaching in the public square, saying: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:41 (KJV)

So I’m wondering: just how much can we the body of Christ achieve if, like the "boys in the boat," we put aside our pride, our selfishness, our stubbornness and just try to row the boat in synch with one another and with our Master?