Out of the darkness, grows light. For me that summarizes this Lenten season’s experience even if I am only half way through. Out of brokenness, wholeness is restored. God makes anew.
When I sat at my desk prior to Lent trying to dream up what we might do as a congregation to help us grow in our relationship with God, I came across this crazy idea of handing out beads. To be frank, it was one of the more economical ideas. Nevertheless, the main reason for giving out the beads was that they could easily be kept in many places to remind us of our relationship with God.
My hope is that God would get in our way. I wanted us to stumble upon Him at unexpected times. I know how easy it is to push Him out of the way. We can easily rationalize putting him in the corner. We keep Him there for when we need Him. We pull Him out and pray to Him when we are in great need and on our last dime. We don’t want him to see us as we regularly live out our lives. We like Him when He fits our schedule. He is a God of convenience.
However, when tragedy strikes, He is brought front and center. We draw close to Him. We appeal to Him. He is our best friend. We wheel and deal. We make promises of what we will never do again and even more promises of what we will always do if He but forgive us or take us back as a child in good standing. We are in a bad place, a rock and hard place, with no place turn. It is time to pay the piper and we are desperate.
What we fail to realize is that God hasn’t gone anywhere. He was always there. We delude ourselves. We think that we have eluded Him. We haven’t. God has made His home with us. He goes everywhere we go. He sees and hears all that we do. He is always present. He is omnipotent.
A scary thought?
You might be threatened by that thought and maybe you should be. On the one hand, it may be your salvation. The beads remind us that God is always with us. Truly this can be a joyous thought. We wonder how it can be, given what I have just stated. St. Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The key to this is recognizing that God is not here to kill or take down. God is here to make new. You will sin and fall short every day. You will fail Him at the same time that you love Him. God stays near you so that He might guide and direct your days. He is there to forgive, make new, and restore. He is there to give guidance. He is there to answer your prayers. He is always there and always waiting to talk.
God is our companion. He knows all and sees all. We are at great peace when we give over all our life to Him and see Him as a powerful God who cares. We can discover that His ways are better than our ways. He is big enough to take on our greatest fears and tender enough to wipe our tears.
I have seen God alongside our congregation more than ever this year. God has certainly lived out His wishes through You. He has worked through you. He has made new through you. God has come to MY aid when I did not know what to do. I have reached out to members when I have needed support, and people have responded. When the care of the property was overwhelming me, members took it upon themselves to do their part. When pastoral care swept over me like a large wave, God was there through many of you giving aid to one another. I have heard of God’s nearness to you in your stories of caring for your family members when they were in need. Little did I know, you were my beads. You were God’s presence in my life.
It is good to have God near at all times and places. We do not need to fear Him. He will guide and direct our days. We will wander. He will bring us home. We grow in love of Him and each other. We make His ways our ways as we come to trust in Him. Seeing Him in all of us, we see each other as neighbors. His love washes over us and we begin experiencing the love that passes all understanding.
As you live out the rest of your Lenten season, may the beads and each other remind you of God’s presence in your life and give you hope and peace.
~In His Service,