“All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.”
(Isa 28:29, NIV)
I would like to share with you a reading I recently came across that I found particularly striking for me in the book, A Guide to Spiritual Discernment, by Janet Wolf:
Our Wednesday night Bible study group has become a rather odd community of sorts. There are usually six to ten of us—two or three people who are struggling with mental health problems, three men who are homeless, several dealing with time in prison, and others wrestling with emotional and physical scars. Folks come with a hunger for healing, wanting food for the body and soul and a place to be at home.
John, one of the men who is currently homeless and staying, as the others who are homeless do, at the downtown mission, started out one night: “Stayed down at the mission again last night—house of pain for real. Woke up this morning and my shoes were gone. Somebody stole my shoes. I didn’t even have to think about what to do—I pulled out my knife and I went looking. I was walking all up and down the dining hall, table by table, and I meant to get my shoes back. Kept thinking: in the old days wouldn’t anybody tried to touch my shoes—‘cause they’d know I’d get ‘em ‘fore they could ever put ‘em on. Oh, yeah. I was mean and folks knew it. Didn’t care. And that’s how it was this morning. It’s one thing to give up drinking and drugging. It’s another thing when they steal your shoes.
“And I’m hollering, threatening, and walking up and down with my knife out where everyone can see. I’m going to get my shoes. Then old Jim here (points to another homeless man in the group) starts hollering from the other side of the room: ‘Bible says if they take one cloak give them your other one; if they took your shoes, give ‘em your socks. Put that knife away and give ‘em your socks.’
“And I’m swearing and getting madder. Ain’t givin’ nobody nothin’! I want my shoes! And old Jim, he just keeps hollering: ‘Give ‘em your socks, John!’
“Folded up my knife. Took a long time doing it, too. Walked barefoot to the service center this morning—and got me some more shoes—but ain’t it hard to live this stuff out!”
This reading is filled with learning opportunities and “jumping off” points that could keep a preacher busy for weeks. But what struck me the most, was that last phrase of the very last sentence: “but ain’t it hard to live this stuff out!”
Do you ever find yourself thinking similar words? I’ll be honest … there are times when I do. Usually, it’s just before God is about to realign my perspectives, habits, or beliefs. And to be honest, often it is hard—change does not come easy for most of us, me included. But also to be honest, I always find myself ultimately being grateful that God took the time and made the effort to guide me into those new directions. Thank you God for your wisdom, and that you do not give up on us!
I believe that 2018 is going to be one of those opportunities to listen, receive, embrace, and act on God’s wisdom, as both individuals and as a congregation of Christ’s Church. And if you’re like me, you may find yourself just a little nervous at the thought of that (I know I usually am). But I am then reminded that we cannot be in any better stead than when we are most aligned with God’s wise will for us. We may not know when starting out all the details of where we are heading, but we do know it will be a good place, and we will ultimately be grateful. Will there be times when it will be hard living all this stuff out? I expect there will … always are. But hard work is not at all foreign to us here at Marble. And even more, our strength and endurance is in a steadfastly faithful and wise God, whose plan is wonderful, who loves us beyond measure, who will be with us every step of the way, and in whom we can put our complete trust. God is good!
Blessings and peace to you always … Pastor Bob