It is already mid-November and I find myself here every year in a somewhat reflective mood. Perhaps it is because Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Maybe because we are near the end of another year. And it has been quite the year. Here are some things I hope we have learned and what we might do about them.
We still have much to be thankful for, even during the year we have had. Somehow, we need to find a way to show we are thankful. Thankful for friends who have brought food, groceries and pick me ups when we couldn't get out ourselves. Thankful for technology that has allowed many of us to stay in touch even if we would rather meet in person. Thankful for those who have cared for our loved ones when we couldn't. Thankful for the blessings God continues to shower us with. How do we say thank you to all these people?
Because we have been isolated many of us have had to learn new things, especially regarding technology. Someone who knows better than we do has taken the time to teach us how to do new things. Hopefully we have passed what we have learned along to someone else. We are all in this together and the more we help each other, the better we will be together. Here is one way we can teach someone else. I do and you watch. I do and you help. You do and I help. You do and I watch. You do. That is how Jesus taught His disciples. He didn't just send them out the first week to perform miracles. He showed them first and then they helped. Eventually they were ready to go out on their own.
None of us is perfect. When we make mistakes, we need to apologize. When we do wrong, we need to fess up. It happens to all of us. We hurt others. We hurt relationships, including the one we have with the Lord. 1 John 1:8-9 tells us this, ”If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Not only do we go to the Lord when we make mistakes and ask for forgiveness, but in His power, we can go to others we have hurt and ask for the same forgiveness.
I learned something the other day about service dogs. If a service dog approaches you and they do not have their human with them, that means their human is down and needs help. If that happens, we need to follow the dog to where their human is. When people need help, we are called to help them. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us we are better together, and a three-strand cord is not easily broken. For me this is part of the golden rule...do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Some of us are WAY better at giving help than receiving. We like to think we are independent and need no help. But all of us need help at one time or another. So, don't just help when someone else needs it. Be willing to accept help if you need it as well.
There are plenty of challenges in this world of ours. Sometimes it is easier to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to all the madness. But there are people being hurt. People are being discriminated against. Some are being abused. When we see wrong it is up to us to take a stand. If we all wait for someone else to do something, nothing will ever get done.
Sometimes we may stumble and fall. It happens to the best of us. We say something wrong. We fail miserably at something. We do something foolish. We have two choices. We can go off and hide and never come out. Or we can get back up and keep moving forward. There was a sign that hung in my high school locker room that said, anyone can be knocked down. It is what you do when you get up that counts. Some of our greatest victories and successes come after we have fallen first. Peter was good at that. Many times, Peter mis spoke. Yet Jesus chose him to be the one on which He built His church.
Sometimes people get confused, and they need to ask questions to get answers. Perhaps they do not understand how something works...like in physics or math. Other times they simply do not understand. It happened to the disciples often. We have seen them asking, what does that mean? Why couldn't we do the same miracles as you? Where did you say you were going? Please keep in mind, it is really hard for some people to ask for clarification when they are confused. So, when someone asks us for help, we really need to be gracious when we offer.
Last but certainly not least, if you love someone, tell them. I don't think we can hear those three words too much. We read in 1 John 4 that we know how to love because God first loved us. And in John 3:16 we read, ”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that who so ever would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.” God set the example for us. We set the example for others. We had parents, grandparents and others in our lives who taught us how to love. Now it is up to us to teach those who come after us. And right now, this world needs all the love it can get!
Please feel free to add to this list the things you think about this time of the year. We have much to be thankful for, and we have much yet to do.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W