In our time of need

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

I recently had a conversation with a good friend where matters concerning our faith journey came up.  Both of us are doing our best to follow Jesus and each day we learn more about how to live that out.  Somewhere in the midst of the conversation the words “in our time of need” were used.  We often hear of stories and testimonies — and may have many of our own to share — where people express how God met them at their time of need.  When things were tough, He was there.  He came through.  And amen!  That’s so true He is there.  (Although maybe not always in the ways we want Him to be… but that’s a thought for another post!)

But I got to thinking… when exactly is our time of need?  What is it about this particularly mundane moment right now that makes me need Him any less than when going in for emergency surgery, carrying great concern for a friend or family member, or grieving the loss of a loved one?  Do I really need Him less somehow?  I maybe don’t think I need Him to do anything for me at this instant…. I maybe don’t perceive an explicit need for Him to keep me alive or to comfort me right now.  But, to the believer, isn’t that just what He is doing anyway?  In spite of my ignorance regarding my need?  And we must not forget about forgiveness and salvation.  I stand in continual need of both.  Continual.  My time of need is always.

Perhaps we’d do well to remember that we need Him all of the time.  Every moment is a time of need.  The person next to you is also in a moment of need.  I’d like to think that any humility found in recognizing our own neediness — and the ultimate source of our Help — might result in responses rooted in the love of Christ, doing whatever we can to meet the needs of those around us.

When is our time of need?  It’s now.

F.A.I.T.H.

Corrie ten Boom is attributed with coining the acronym for FAITH:

a Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him

May 2012 be your best year yet in getting to know and trust God better.  It really is an adventure!  Step out!

Speak up!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

We may make a lot of plans…

Proverbs 19:20-23

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

20Pay attention to advice

and accept correction,

so you can live sensibly.

21We may make a lot of plans,

but the LORD will do

what he has decided.

22What matters most is loyalty.

It’s better to be poor

than to be a liar.

23Showing respect to the LORD

brings true life–

if you do it, you can relax

without fear of danger.

http://bit.ly/nwmOdh

I was a stranger and you took me in

Saturday, July 2, 2011 — a relatively normal day turned scary. I’m writing now, grateful for a happy ending.

It was approaching 9:00 pm on a trip home from Toronto. I was with my sister and her four kids and we were taking a series of backroads to get back into Guelph. It was just getting dusky outside when I received a call from our folks on my cell phone. Having left Toronto a little earlier than we had, they just arrived at home — but to a big change in the weather with pitch black skies and strong winds. This would be our warning call, which was used to help kick our brains into gear for what we were about to experience.

Two kids were asleep. The other two quietly occupying themselves. (I must comment here that the trip *to* Toronto was absolutely *nothing* like that description of the trip home.) The skies were not foreboding at all but we were keeping our eyes peeled for any changes, hopeful that there wouldn’t be much to see.

Then we saw something. The change in the sky was so pronounced that we would have noticed something was wrong even without the advanced warning we had been given. The clouds were unnerving but we pressed on. The rain started to fall and the thunder and lightning were very present but, again, we pressed on. The wind was freaky, growing in strength at a disturbingly rapid rate. It seemed utterly confused about the direction it should be blowing, which was also unnerving. Then the rain began to fall with such volume and force that we could hardly see at all. But we pressed on. Then all at once we could see *something*. But that *something* was a large tree down in the middle of an intersection. And power lines were down.

It was ridiculously frightening and, with little option but to turn around, my sister carefully manoeuvred the mini-van and headed back in the opposite direction. At this point we had freaked out kids, all of whom were awake, and freaked out adults who were trying to figure out what to do. We were looking for somewhere to stop and be safe. Having lost our bearings on the usually familiar road, we were wondering where exactly we were. And we were trying to decide what poor unsuspecting people’s lives we should barge into for shelter.

Then, suddenly, we knew exactly where along the road we were. We found the Eden House retirement and nursing home and pulled into the lot. I ran in (and got quite soaked in that 3 seconds I was outside) and spoke with somebody about the situation and asked about cover for the six of us. I ran back out, motioning to my sister that it was OK to come in. Then the kids were released, with the oldest three moving the fastest I’d ever seen them move and entered safely into the home. I went in for the youngest and carried her out through the rain, then sent her in with the others. I grabbed something from the van and told my sister “this sounds a lot like a train… get in here quick”. Soon we were all safely inside Eden House.

The place had lost power — likely related to the tree we found and the power lines that were snapped on the ground. They were running on the power of a generator and were busy trying to deal with the challenges that the storm was causing for them. At the same time, they could appreciate how crazy things had turned out there and were quite kind to accept the intrusion.

Not too long after being there, we were taken to a lounge/dining hall area. This is where the nurse in charge told her staff that they had a family stranded here due to the storm and they’ve got scared children and they need snacks and juice. The team was deployed and moments later they all returned with a cart filled with cookies and drinks and pudding. And they brought us blankets. (Once I realized that I was drenched and shivering, I was particularly fond of the blankets being made available.)

We just did our best to stay out of their way. They had plenty to do without us being there. There were false readings from the system due to being on generator power. They were trying to arrange to get the power back. And of course they were also doing all their regular things, like helping residents.

I was glad to be there because I knew we were safe and I knew that it was the best kind of place to be if anything got worse outside. It was a place with procedures already set and people that knew what to do, who also had connections with emergency services and such…. this was a nice place to be!

We were there for a little while – staying safely off the road in the very brunt of the storm, getting the kids settled down from the scariest part of the journey, and us taking a break and trying to plan our next leg of the journey. Being so close to home and yet stranded was a little disappointing but we knew that once we could get back out there, we didn’t have long to drive. Once things settled down enough outside, we said our goodbyes and piled back into the van. Still raining – still thunder & lightning. But hardly any wind and and only raining very lightly in contrast to the hour earlier.

We needed to take an alternate route home, as the road we were trying to take had been closed by the OPP. There was a lot of debris on the alternative path — including a second tree nearly down, which we managed to get past. The kids were still pretty shaken. My sister and I just wanted to get off the roads before anything else could happen!

Now we’re all safely home. I pause to consider, with awe, the power of nature. Also, I can’t get that part of Matthew 25 out of my head: “I was a stranger and you took me in…” from verse 35. Tonight, we were greatly blessed by complete strangers, crashing their home which already had extra and unexpected complexity, and had an immense demonstration of hospitality and kindness lavished upon us, the travelling strangers in need of safety and shelter. Greatly blessed, indeed.

Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

See the aftermath:  Returning to the scene…

When silence does not mean an absence of things to say

2010 is almost over. Once again, it has not been a big blogging year for me. I have written a couple of posts that I am very proud. That made it worth it. But wow, right now, overall, it just looks like I don’t have anything to say on here.

But that’s not true at all. I have so much to say. Too much to say. And that is accompanied by an overwhelming combination of not knowing where or how to begin and a perceived lack of time. I say ‘perceived’ because, as busy as I am, I recognise that I have a few strikes against me in the perception department. And they continually thwart me in the form of bad habits. Booooo!

2011 will be a remarkable year. I cannot tell you why. I do not know all the reasons why. Stepping back, I never claimed 2010 would be a good year. There were lots and lots of good things. I’m really very blessed but it was not really a good year for me. But 2011… while I always carry great hope into each year (and with good reason!) I haven’t had a feeling like this since 2007 rolled around. And 2007 was also a remarkable year. And a lot of the good things that have come since 2007 are because of great things that happened within 2007. So, with that history, I feel like I have an extra reason to hope and dream for an amazing 2011.

I lead the Guelph Songsters on in singing an arrangement of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” this Sunday morning. Longfellow’s words are pretty great. “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!” That’s gotta be a favourite line of practically anybody who appreciates this carol. But, while God is not dead and not sleeping, I have to say that 2010 was something of a sleeper year for me. There are a lot of wrong ways to take that, potentially, but I’m leaving it there. What I want to say about this is that we can all be sleepy or dead in some aspect of our life. Or maybe many aspects. For some of us it turns up in the form of a sleep or deadness within our personal Christian faith. It could be in that relationship with Jesus, but might also be seen in our relationships with friends or family. How about choices we make around our own health? Avoiding physicals or dental appointments. Eating poorly. Not exercising regularly. What about the sleepiness or death of our own hopes and dreams? Those [good] things we once loved so much but, for some reason, felt had to be permanently set aside.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions, although I don’t frown on those who set them. But, having said that, I do a lot of reflecting and goal setting around this time of year. While it rarely takes on the form of a ‘Resolution’, it’s still a member of the same family. Tonight, as I meandered around with a bunch of words and no set focus for this blog post, I just feel as though I should remind those few who may read this to take those moments to check out those sleepy/dead spots in your life. Maybe there is something to discover. Maybe there is something to do. Maybe there is something that will help set you free.

As my parting thought: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. Am I ever thankful for that!

Tozer on Leadership

      A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of external situation. …

I believe it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader.

    The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether ready to follow as to lead, when the Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.

— A. W. Tozer