What a week!
I find myself preparing a message to share with our congregation at West Valley Community Church in Auburn, WA. This week has been different than any other week I have had in my 41+ years of life. Those of us who live in Western Washington have found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. Life has been changed for an unknown amount of time. Schools are closed. Church services have been cancelled. Businesses are closing. Essential items are sold-out in stores, you’ve all probably heard about the toilet paper crisis. All this obvious chaos surrounds us. As followers of Jesus, we can/should/must have faith that He is in control. He can calm this storm. He can bring peace.
Last week we studied Luke 7:1-10 and we saw the faith of the centurion. Jesus was able to heal his servant by just saying the words. Jesus was amazed by the faith of the centurion. I posed the question to the congregation, “what would it be like to amaze Jesus?” Is it possible to have such great faith that we can amaze Jesus? I have found myself stuck on these questions this week. We can call on Jesus in the middle of our life crisis and then wonder, where and when will He show up. We don’t even need to know that he will show up! We can have faith that he just needs to say the words. How much do we trust and rely on Jesus when storms blow in? Would our faith today in the midst of uncertainty amaze him?
This week has been filed with personal trials for me and my family. We were scheduled to have a family gathering here in Western Washington last weekend to celebrate my dear Aunt Margaret. Family was planning on flying in from around the country and I was looking forward to spending time and sharing memories with each other. Finding a way to hold each other up through tough times is so important. Our plans to come together are being delayed until it is safer to travel. Our hearts ache for each other. Our family must lean on our faith in Jesus who has conquered death. Healing is needed. Jesus, say the words.
I learned early Wednesday morning that one of my former athletes died in a tragic accident at his college. This 19-year-old young man was one of my favorite athletes I have ever coached. He was full of confidence and the ultimate competitor. My heart is broken… I can’t imagine the pain of his parents and family. Brokenness and heartache are prevalent in our school and community. Jesus, say the words.
The uncertainty of jobs, childcare, health, and basic needs has caused tremendous anxiety. Many people are struggling with how to navigate life. Over the last year+ many in our congregation have been experiencing tremendous life challenges and now more has been piled on. To make matters worse, now we are limited on how we can come together to hold each other up. Corporate worship has been something we have relied on to stay connected to each other and keep grounded in scripture. Our life patterns and habits have been altered. Jesus, what is next? Say the words.
I would like to propose a plan to all of us. Take the time that we usually spend together and intentionally seek Jesus. Do it today. Do it with a purpose.
If you feel like your faith is strong, the purpose will be seeking how we can show our faith in these times of uncertainty. Our world needs the confidence and faith of believers who know we are safe in the arms of Jesus. Purposefully seek ways that you can put your faith into action. Maybe that is volunteering in the community, writing notes of encouragement, or praying for specific needs.
If you feel lost and adrift with wavering faith, purposefully throw down an anchor. Today, right now, ask Jesus to be the rock that you can cling to. Intentionally take time to pray, ask Jesus to say the words you need to hear. Fill your mind with truth from scripture. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us we don’t have to worry because we are loved and cared for by our Creator. When we fill our lives with Jesus’ words and teachings, and put them into action, we build our foundation on the Rock that will survive any storms that come our way as we know from Luke 6:41-49.
Maybe you feel like you missed your chance to follow Jesus, or you think this world is so far gone there is nothing you can do. If you feel like it’s too late for you or this world, or you missed your opportunity, listen closely. Luke 7:11-17 tells a different story.
11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
I imagine the mother and the people in this town were heartbroken. The only son of this widow was dead. The son was being carted out of town. It was too late for any good to come of this. This mother’s life was forever changed and filled with complete uncertainty. The storm that engulfed her would have been tragic. She would have felt it was too late. There would have been no hope. All earthly attempts to save her son were exhausted. Then Jesus said the words, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Jesus gave him back to his mother. It wasn’t too late for Jesus.
This week we all need to ask Jesus to say the words in our lives. It isn’t too late. There is a world around us that needs to hear His words and feel his touch. We are the ones that get to put His words into action. Whatever tragedy or mess we are dealing with around us, Jesus can speak to it. Be ready, Jesus will say the words, we must listen and be prepared to act.