Funny, isn’t it? How the God of eternity keeps trying to connect with humanity? God wants to be in a relationship with us, but we have difficulty accepting signs of God’s presence and provision.
The Egyptians would not believe the signs. The Israelites despised God and all the signs God sent (Numbers 14:11). The folks who heard about signs from Jeremiah and Daniel floundered in unfaithfulness.
Sure, it would be amazing to witness angels, a babe in a manger, or see water turned into wine! I simply need to “lift up mine eyes” from my phone or TV to see signs – the God nods – pointing me to Christ and his covenant community:
The hymn my soul is singing before I wake up; the birds that face east, heralding the dawn; the coincidental conversation with a stranger who “happens” to affirm my call; or the softening of hearts when there is no chance of common ground.
God, there is undeniable holiness in the Advent season. As we turn our attention toward what you are doing, help us make room for Jesus in our hearts. Help us shift busy-ness into blessedness and weariness into welcome. Thank you for sending us sacred signs pointing us to Your Son. Amen.
Katy Brugraber — Chambersburg, PA
A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought his paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him.
While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it.
When he finished painting, he received his money and left.
The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice check, much higher than the payment for painting.
The painter was surprised and said “You’ve already paid me for painting the boat Sir!”
“But this is not for the paint job. It’s for repairing the hole in the boat.”
“Ah! But it was such a small service… certainly it’s not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant.”
“My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened:
“When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention the hole.
“When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip.
“They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time.
“When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole.
“Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing.
“Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole!
“You see, now, what you did? You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your ‘small’ good deed.”
So no matter who, when or how, continue to help, sustain, wipe tears, listen attentively, and carefully repair all the ‘leaks’ you find. You never know when one is in need of us, or when God holds a pleasant surprise for us to be helpful and important to someone.
Along the way, you may have repaired numerous ‘boat holes’ for several people without realizing how many lives you’ve save.
Make a difference…
Church is hard.Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.Church is hard for the sinners.Church is hard for me.It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.But, here is the beauty of church—Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.Church is a body.Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.Church is a lesson in faith and trust.Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.So even on the hard days at church—The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my spouse because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.Jacob Waldron