What Is A Christian To Do?

Standard

Hate crimes, police shootings, terrorist attacks and injured stray cats are all recent events that have filled me with sadness. And yes, I purposely included cats in the same sentence as the lives of human beings. The reason why is because the cat incident hit the closest to my physical home.

Our backyard borders a small patch of trees and a drainage creek. We see our share of animals pass through. The stray cat was a new visitor. It looped back around to park his weary body under our front porch glider. I could see his matted fur and the swarm of flies that followed him as he oozed infection onto the concrete.

It was not a problem I expected to see in our backyard. We shooed him away, but he kept inching his way back until he found his familiar spot on the front porch again. Truth be told, I didn’t want this problem hanging around my house or present in my life.

I did the Christian thing and prayed for the cat. I prayed that the cat would simply disappear. I prayed for the cat’s suffering to end. I wrestled with Christian guilt because truth-be-told, I wished the cat hadn’t showed up here. In the end, the cat did not hear my prayers. He stayed where I could no longer ignore him.

We asked neighbors if they knew the cat’s owner. No one claimed the cat. I didn’t have to imagine their relief that this cat ended up in our yard and not in their yard. The cat was still our problem.

Eventually, we transported the cat to a local animal shelter. The employee examined the cat and used a sensor to detect a microchip. My heart lept just a little when she reported that there was a microchip. There was real hope to reunite cat and owner. Most likely, I will never know the end of this story. However, I can find some solace in the fact that we did something to potentially improve the cat’s circumstances.

Sometimes the problems in this world feel like that injured stray cat. We didn’t ask for the problem. We don’t want to deal with the problem. We don’t have the resources to fix the problem. Or worse yet, maybe we simply don’t care about the problems because it doesn’t directly affect our day-to-day lives.

The Bible has it right: Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act (Proverbs 3:27). All of us have more power than we realize. Everyone deserves our good. Jesus shows us the better way: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36.) May we look upon others with compassion and love rather than with intolerance and hate.

The best expression of faith that I can come up with is to show kindness in the moment. It may not change the world, but it can offer hope for that given moment. Maybe that is the best any of us can do on our own. We show kindness and hope that together with the kindness of others, God uses those moments to become a movement of love that changes the world.

Odds and Ends of Life

Standard

I started with two blenders. After downsizing to our new home, I also downsized my blenders. I chose the best base and the best jar. And of course, I made sure the base and the jar fit together before donating the odds and ends.

The day came when I needed the blender. I assembled the components and pressed the button. I could hear the motor hum, but the blades didn’t turn. Although I could fit the jar and the base together, they weren’t meant to go together. It was never going to function as a blender.

To go from two blenders to no blenders was a dumb mistake. Then I was too cheap to buy a new blender that I need only once or twice a year. I hung onto the jar for it was a nice glass jar, but got rid of the base.

A year later and one thousand miles from home, my snowbird friend was selling a blender in her garage sale. It cost me one dollar. Come to find out, that blender was the same brand as my jar. The new base worked in perfect unity with the blender jar I kept.

I see the spiritual lessons in the ordinary so my blender mishap was par for the course.

  • Just because it feels right doesn’t mean it is right.
  • Patience exercised allows for God’s perfect timing.
  • Hope can make us appear crazy to those who don’t believe in hope.
  • God weaves the odds and ends in our life together for His glory.

I have a blender again. More importantly, I am reminded to never give up on God for the discombobulation in my life. For God loves to reward hope.

Psalm 65:5

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,

 

 

 

 

The Prequel to Easter

Standard

IMG_2861

It was already mid-March when I discovered the single snowdrop, no bigger than the tip of my little finger. It was not what I imagined when I planted the bulbs last fall. There should have been a showy display of white debuting in February. My anticipation of hope was downsized by disappointment. This snowdrop was too little, too sparse and too late.

I recognized the feeling. Obstacles and frustrations in life tend to have the same effect on me. Hope wanes. Faith urges me to cling to the promise of hope despite that which is confirmed with the senses. Still, one lonely snowdrop encompassed the possibility for more flowers to appear. Even a little hope strengthens the resolve for more abundant hope in the present.

The Old Testament is filled with prophecy for the coming Messiah. In the New Testament, many did not recognize the Messiah when confronted with God’s hope. One of my favorite exceptions is the thief crucified with Jesus. His hope was waning as he was dying. Something deep inside stirred when he talked with Jesus. He experienced hope that defied the pain in his life. He believed that Hope existed and that he wasn’t beyond Hope’s reach. Jesus’s hope did not disappoint. Luke 23:42-43 is an excerpt of that beautiful story of hope leading to redemption. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The prequel to Easter is still hope. Jesus Christ on the cross was hope defined. Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave was hope understood. Jesus Christ in our hearts is Easter’s hope realized. Easter reveals that God’s Hope is never too little, too sparse or too late.

 

Psalm 33:22

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (King James Version.)

 

 

And I Pray!

Standard

I volunteer with a ministry that serves patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. I am one of many that pray. Texts are electronically transmitted. Spoken prayers transcend time and space. Cards are mailed. And I pray.

But it is not for the faint-hearted. For the names keep coming. Week after week, more cancer diagnoses are heard, more families are affected by cancer, and the list of people to minister to gets longer. And I pray. How do you share hope with someone receiving hospice care? How do you comfort someone feeling miserable from the side effects of treatment? How do you encourage someone who discovers that the cancer has returned? And I pray.

I have lost two prayer partners, cancer patients that I prayed for daily and corresponded with weekly. Their physical bodies succumbed to the cancer. Sometimes, my prayers seem to go unanswered. And still I pray. Prayers for healing. Prayers for peace. Prayers for salvation. Prayers for miracles. For people I may never meet, talk with, or give a hug to on this side of heaven. Yet, I pray for God has given us the privilege to ask in Jesus’s name. And I pray because I can.

Note: The wonderful ministry I referred to in this post is Cancer Hope, a ministry of SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg, Ohio. Cancer Hope knows no bounds in sharing Christ’s love with individuals and their families going through cancer. Cancer Hope’s blessings are available for anyone regardless of residence or church affiliation. More information can be found at: http://www.southbrook.org/ministries/. Once there, click on Cancer Hope.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 

2 Corinthians 1:10-11

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.