My brand-new, whazoo make-one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker is no longer making coffee. Seriously?!
The cat threw up the previous nights’ dinner on the carpet in the hallway, which I promptly stepped in the following morning.
Gasoline is well over $4.00 a gallon here in California, and is putting a noticeable dent in my weekly budget.
A friend at work is seriously ill, has exhausted all of her leave time, and is in jeopardy of losing her medical benefits.
Countries in the Middle East are on the brink of war, and our politicians are immersed in a debate over the use of birth control pills.
And lastly, the former pastor of my church who retired a few years back, passed away early Sunday morning, after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) not too long ago. Pastor Tom was a great man of faith, and had a wonderful gift of genuinely caring for the people God had placed in his path.
During a particularly difficult season in my life several years ago, Pastor Tom offered heartfelt empathy and prayerful support. He also officiated at the memorial service for one of my law enforcement colleagues, whose life was taken suddenly in a car accident.
One of the things I liked most about Pastor Tom was his ability to present the Word of God in a practical-application kind of way. During one message he asked, “What is the most widely read version of the Bible?”After a few guesses, “the King James, the NIV?” he supplied the answer. “The most widely read version of the Bible is the BBV, the Believer’s Behavior Version.” Wow. What a sobering statement.
I think sometimes we forget that as believers, we are continually being watched and evaluated to see if what we say we believe matches how we live. In talking to my sister this week about Pastor Tom, I mentioned how often it just doesn’t make sense why God allows his children to suffer—why he allowed Pastor Tom to get ALS just a few short years into his retirement, or why he allowed Mom to get terminal cancer just a few short months into hers. Lori reminded me that we cannot see the situation from God’s perspective, so we cannot know how the believer’s suffering is impacting the lives of those around them. That was the point of Pastor Tom’s message about the BBV.
What do people see in me, not just when life is good and I am happy, but in times of difficulty? When I am suffering, do they see despair or do they see a peace in me that they cannot account for? When I am disappointed, do they see hostility that I didn’t get my own way or do they see hope in spite of disappointment? When people at work are grating on my last nerve, do I lash out at them or do I keep my temper? When I call the coffee maker company this week, will I exercise patience? When I consider the illness of my friend, will I show generosity by donating some of my own leave time? When I watch the evening news, will I express fear or faith to those around me? Will the people I encounter next week see Christ in all that I say, in all that I do, in all that I am?
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere… (1 Thess 1:6-8a, NIV).
On the journey toward Home,