Articles

Misery Transformed

An eyelash is overlooked, until the moment one lands in our eye. The rubbing on our eyeball is highly irritating! Our concentration, our focus is broken until we can get that eyelash out.

One tiny hair doesn’t affect too many lives. Our neighbors don’t know of and don’t share in this irritation.

This is how misery can affect us, too. Often, we’re the ones who are hindered. Depending on the nature and severity of our current misery, our families may also feel repercussions. Due to this enormous distraction, we quit focusing. We pause on serving God and pause in our worship.

God’s enemy does not fight fair. God wants us, wants our hearts and has literally moved heaven and earth to prove it. Meanwhile, His enemy doesn’t care, at least not about us. The enemy is working to keep us disconnected from God. He preys on us, to find our weaknesses and magnifies them to keep us crippled and our eyesight hazy when we look to God.

Joseph sums it up well: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Gen 50:20, NLT.

But God!

Once we’re past the initial emotions that first occur in a state of misery, we have a choice to make. Are we going to marinate in what ails us, letting it permeate deep within? Or are we going to hand it over to God?

Giving it to God means trusting Him to do something. God is The Master Creator. He is very well experienced in making beauty appear. It is not unfathomable to believe that He can also take our hardest, most painful moments and transform them into something breathtakingly beautiful.

Trusting God with our misery does not mean that it is automatically canceled. The pain may not go away. The healing may not come as we expect. The relationship might never be restored. Our career situation may not change overnight. The circumstances may not change immediately.

What does change is our hearts. Rather than just focusing on what’s happening to us, let’s keep our hearts and eyes open to how God is working through us. When God is in it, our situation is no longer beyond the point of reasoning. All is not hopeless, all is not lost. God can use our experience to share hope, particularly with those in similar situations. God will use us to meet needs, to comfort and to love as He loves.

God can use our story, our misery, for ministry.

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

The Best Feeling Ever

What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?

Do you remember the joy you felt in that moment? That uncontainable glee that is visible even without having to utter one word.

This is how we ought to feel when it comes to sharing the gospel! When we have a life-changing connection with Christ, it is exciting! We’re filled with a blessed assurance that is indescribable. When our friends and loved ones see us, they can tell that something is new and improved in our lives.

Why do we need to share the gospel?

A short answer: Jesus has asked us to. He loves everybody and wants us all to be saved and live with Him forever in Heaven.

A longer answer: Knowing how it feels being connected with Jesus in your life, we should want the same for others. This thing with Jesus is too good to just keep for ourselves. He is big enough—there is more than ample to share with everyone without compromising our relationship in any way.

We are given opportunities to share Jesus often. Yet there are moments when it just feels awkward. Or we just have no idea what to say without looking weird. This is where training is useful.

In building up for Impact Winnipeg 2018, there are a number of preparatory events. The Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference also has various training initiatives as they aim for Total Member Involvement across our region. Our leaders recognize that we need tools in order to share the gospel effectively. They have invested in us so that we can be equipped and work along with them.

The information shared in the various trainings and seminars applies to more than our respective ministries. What we learn fits into our daily lives and affects how we relate to everyone, not only those we’re trying to reach out to.

If you’re unable to attend an event in its entirety, come anyway. Even a few minutes of training will leave us better equipped than no training whatsoever. Luke 8 tells of a sick woman who was healed as she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. The hem—the edge! A miracle happened with just a touch in a brief moment. Jesus’ power is not restricted by our time constraints.

When there are events advertised within our church and our conference, let’s remember the feeling of what Jesus means to us. Let that be the motivation to support these events and be in a position to share this good news with others.

Loving As We Are

‘Thank you for loving me just as I am.’

The words flashed across my screen. Is there a better way to love someone if we do not accept them as they are?

If, in our Christian growth experience, we’re striving to be more like Jesus, then shouldn’t we aim for His standards at loving people?

Jesus loves. He loves everyone, just as they are. There are no conditions attached to the fact that He loves every single person on this planet. He willingly accepted the mission to die for our sins, even though there was no guarantee that His gift would be accepted. The Bible doesn’t teach us that we must tweak this or change that before we’re loved by our Saviour. Transformations will occur as God’s love grows in our hearts. He just loves.

Loving people will not miraculously make every irritating quirk or characteristic in each other enjoyable. There will be habits and behaviours in us that continue to grate hearts, like nails on a chalkboard. Loving like Jesus does not mean that everyone we meet will be harmless or will reciprocate love in return. Loving others does not automatically mean that everyone is to be considered as your best friend.

Loving as Jesus does means we desire His best for each other. The ultimate goal is Heaven, for us all. In our daily interactions, we would look past the misunderstood qualities and focus on the heart. We would willingly pray for each other. For those who hurt us as a result of their own hurts, we would pray that they find peace and healing in Jesus.

With all the knowledge we have, with an entire Bible at our fingertips, we still struggle to love well. We’ve taken Christ’s ideal and contorted it into something unrecognizable. We want people to change to suit our standards. We, with our limited vision and flawed insight, have put conditions on how we love. We want first see visible changes. Then, after we find them more acceptable in our sights, we’re more comfortable to attempt loving them.

Perhaps love is supposed to be uncomfortable? In loving others as they are, we stretch too. We challenge ourselves look deeper than surface level. It’s easier to quit loving as Christ does and make excuses that we cannot stand each other. But the easy things aren’t always the best things.

Let’s work on loving each other as we are. Pray for help to see the gifts we all have rather than the flaws. Ask God to love others through you.

Let’s desire God’s best for one another, so that His glory may be seen. In all of us.

Don’t Quit

A family wanted to plant a baby tree in their front yard. They dreamed of watching this tree grow. Birds would build their nests in its branches. Their children would go on imaginary adventures as they climbed the tree. As it matured, the tree would provide shade for their home as well. The family had great intentions for their tree.

They shopped around for the ideal tree and sound found the perfect one. A hole was dug and they dropped the baby tree into it. They carefully repacked dirt around the base of the tree, then stepped back to admire their handiwork. They were not a green thumb family, so this was a major accomplishment. Things went well, except for one obvious detail.

The tree was crooked.

Back into the dirt they plunged, as they worked to straighten the little tree. A bit better, but still the lean was still obvious. Each time they attempted to straighten the tree, it stood more erectly. But never fully upright.

Exhausted by numerous attempts and backbreaking labor, the family was spent. They were tired of doing what was good. They had worked hard and figured it was good enough. The tree was pretty well straight, at a glance. Satisfied, they went inside to clean up.

As the tree grew, the family did enjoy some of the great moments they had once dreamed about. But the tree never did straighten itself out. It kept on leaning. As each year passed, the tree leaned heavily to one side. It eventually became a safety hazard and the family was forced to cut it down.

Don’t quit!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” — Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Doing good is meticulous work. It’s exhausting to keep on going because the process seems much slower than we’d like. All the doing takes a toll on us. To see something through to completion can drain us mentally, physically, emotionally, financially.

And spiritually.

The family in our story gave their best efforts doing good. When they got tired, they were distracted from the end goal. Their aches and pains outweighed the positioning of the tree. They figured good enough in the short term would be good enough in the long term. They never pictured removing the tree prematurely.

For Christians, our end goal is the Kingdom. God desires to save all of His children. Anyone that He took time to create and give life to is worth saving, in His eyes. This is why God is remarkably patient and uber-gracious with us. He loves us all and wants us with Him forever. This is why we cannot get tired of doing what is good.

May this be our motivation as we encourage each other to keep doing what is good.