Blog
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15   Entries 1-5 of 74
July 30, 2017, 12:00 AM

Challenges and Opportunities

by Sandy Bach

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:26-39 The Message)

When my son was in middle school, his aunt bought him a hand held video game.  It was his pride and joy.  He took it everywhere with him and took very good care of it.  One night he woke me up in tears.  Somehow his precious video game had gotten damaged.  Through bleary eyes I could see that the display was utterly destroyed. He was beside himself and I could barely remain awake.  "There are always options, honey.  Go to bed and we'll work it out in the morning."  And I fell back to sleep.

The next morning he was up early, dressed and ready for breakfast.  He was never up early, was never dressed and ready for breakfast.  In fact mornings were a constant battle to get him moving out the door to school.  Then I remembered: the video game.  He was making sure I'd be ready to help him find a solution.

I was wrong.

He entered the kitchen with a piece of notebook paper on a clip board.  He had written notes on it that filled the page.

"Mom, do you know where Federal Express is located?"

"There's an office about a mile from here.  Why?"

"If we can pack up my video game and put this Return Merchandise Authority number on the package and ship it to this address, they'll repair it and return it to me."

I was stunned.  He had actually listened to me.  Did I mention he was in middle school?  He had heard me say repeatedly throughout his young life that there are usually options if you pause to consider them.  As it turned out, he found the toll-free number to call the support line and they give him the information he needed.  At 1:00 AM, no less!

Challenges and opportunities.  My young son had learned early in life that a broken video game wasn't the end of the world.  And I learned that my son could be resourceful.

Challenges and opportunities.  Where do you live?  In a world of challenges and burdens?  Or a world with opportunities and resources?

Jesus was clear about bad things in life:  "...for [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." (Mt. 6:45b)

Bad things happen to good people.  Life is filled with moments of joy and wonderment and miracles.  God's creation comes alive every spring and we're reminded of God's abundance; in the fall we see nature "shut down" and prepare for winter.  Mustard seeds sprout in unexpected places: friends showing up to help a seriously ill loved one; a teenager turning her life around; the miracle of birth.  Often what we take for granted are miracles all around us.

If good things happen, so do bad.  I overheard a conversation where someone said, "Why is this happening to me?"  The answer came back, "Why not?"  Was the response meant to be snarky, or was she pointing out to her friend that the rain falls on the evil and the good alike?  Being a Christian doesn't protect us from life.  Being a Christian gives us stamina to get through life and do it with grace.

What are your particular challenges?  Can you see opportunities in them?  A seed can't be protected.  It has to be buried and it has to die in order to produce a strong tree or beautiful flowers.  Broken video games can help a young teenager learn how to find solutions.  The political party you oppose offers opportunities to broaden your thinking on the issues.  That debilitating illness can provide you with a more compassionate spirit and challenge you to allow others to help you.

Do you concentrate on burdens or on resources?  When ministers and pastors and priests stand in the pulpit, they see their flock. These shepherds know the pain and joy of each member of the flock: the broken kids, the dying, those who worry about their job prospects, the ones tired of living.  They know deeply the pain and angst of their congregations and they hold them in prayer and in their arms.

Looking for resources and opportunities doesn't mean we look at life through rose-colored glasses.  No.  This type of thinking and praying means that we have to see the absolute worst in our situation.  Only then can we define what our needs are.  For healing, yes.  But, also for assistance from friends or advice from support groups.  Maybe it means a change in your life situation that can lead to something new and fulfilling.

Looking for resources and opportunities is how we see the abundance in our lives.  Instead of a scarcity of money, we find an abundance of help.  Rather than a scarcity of energy, we find deep rest.  Instead of a scarcity of time, we discover what "letting go and letting God" really means.

This year has lasted about 3 years!  My husband and I have experienced death of loved ones and setbacks in our health.  One day I was deep in prayer and felt God's presence in a new and different way.  That afternoon I shared this with my husband and said, "I don't know what the future brings, but I do know that God is waiting for us there and we'll be okay.  I'm ready to step into that future, no matter what it brings."

Our journey has included some difficult twists and turns.  I've learned so much and I've met some amazing people who have "been there and done that" and infused me with hope.  Our mailbox overflows with cards and well-wishes.  I'm a stronger, more compassionate person for our experience.  I don't know what the next big thing will be.  Living today is all I want and need.

We can't always avoid the challenges in life.  Sometimes we bring them on ourselves; sometimes they simply happen.  Paul knew all about this and wrote about persecution often.  But he believed with every fiber of his being that nothing, not anything can separate us from God's love. Read his words once again:

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:26-39 The Message)

Nothing can get in the way of you and God.  We can accept trouble with grace because God's got this.  Miracles will happen: not necessarily the way we want them, but keep an eagle eye out.  You'll see them.

We can accept trouble with grace.  We can look for miracles.  We can look at the opportunities and resources.

Because God's got our back.

And that's all we need.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15   Entries 1-5 of 74
Contents © 2017 The First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy