reflections from an elder - january 20th
Pastor Will’s second message is going to focus on the theme of Hope, and that got me to thinking about how casually we sometimes use that word. “I hope it doesn’t rain today.” Or, “I sure hope that test isn’t too hard.” Or maybe, “I hope the sermon doesn’t go too long this morning.” But the word hope means a whole lot more.
When the word cancer becomes a part of a family’s life, they do a lot of hoping. At times, it may be a real struggle not to lose hope. For some families, maybe the trial is something different, a struggling relationship, losing a job, the death of a close friend, but the hoping and praying that occurs is still very real. The greatest comfort in these kinds of earthly trials is knowing that our real hope, our ultimate hope, is not found within ourselves, but in the Lord. “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Ps. 147:11) And, Hebrews 6:19 tells us that this kind of hope is “an anchor for the soul.” Believe me, in the stormy waves of our world, we need that anchor.
However, our hope in the Lord doesn’t necessarily make the trial go away, but it should give us a greater strength to endure it. The familiar line from Isaiah 40 reminds us that “those who have hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles.”
So, as you lift up your prayers to our heavenly Father, lift them up with that kind of hope, a hope that trusts in a God who truly loves us, who sent his Son into this broken world to bear all of our burdens, to save us from all of our sins, and to give us an eternal hope, for now in this life, but also with Him in Glory. Don’t lose hope!
This Week Carol and I...
This weekend, Carol and I will be dedicating a tree on the grounds here at Grace Fellowship. It is a thank-you we want to share with the church for your kindness and responsiveness to us in this last year. Many of you have been kind enough to say positive things about our tenure at Grace. It has been a fruitful and rebuilding season for the church – with lots of reasons for rejoicing! Lots of people helped make that happen. We feel blessed just to have been a part.
What you should also know is that this last season has been really good for Carol and me too. I have loved living in a Dutch community. Carol has relished her opportunity to launch an AirBnB at the Villa. And our ministry experience at Grace has been filled with memorable baptisms, professions of faith, new members, and life-changing events. We have loved every minute of it – and much of that is due to your cooperative and risk-taking spirit. Thank-you!
But the tree isn’t just about saying “thank-you.” It is also our way of expressing hope for your future. I am quite confident that Pastor Chris will serve you extremely well, in this next season of ministry. Yet, not every day will be an easy day. There will be times where it gets hard. There will be days where you doubt. That’s just the reality of life.
In the ups and downs of ministry life, our hope and prayer is that you find the tree an inspiration. May it serve as a reminder that a church (like a tree) stands strong and true when its roots are deep. In the case of the church it is about being rooted in God’s word and remembering his promises. Every time you pass the tree, may you be reminded of the good you have known and the good you have yet to discover!
Your best days are still before you…