I am curious how many of you do this – you have something happening in your life, some planned event, activity, or even some expected season of life, and you build in your mind, in your heart, your expectation of how things are going to unfold. We imagine happiness, smiles, joy, deliciousness, excitement, thrill, love, peace, all the things we long for. But then reality shows up – the food got a bit over-cooked, the kids argued about everything-under-the-sun, your spouse ruined the moment, you dripped mustard on your white shirt, the rain showers came the day of your outdoor party. Or maybe something deeper – you accidentally discovered your spouse’s unfaithfulness, your doctor gives you news that sucked the life out of you, the company you had planned on staying with until retirement just laid you off, or someone really close to you dies in an accident.
All of these things I listed can be life-changing-moments. Depending on our expectations of life and of this world, and what we do with the problems-of-yesterday, even the little things like mustard and rain can be the literal last-straws that break us. The big things can build in us an anger just towards life in general that ends up leaking out in every interaction we have. Lately I’ve been talking to the kids at Lighthouse about how to respond to hardship and suffering in life. So much of our poor handling of these things is based on those unrealistic expectations we have of the world and of the imperfect people around us. A close friend of mine is regularly telling me about how disappointed he is in someone he reports to at his job, and has been telling me this for a year, even though his superior has not changed his behavior. I gently reminded my friend the other day that maybe he should change his expectations of this person and then he would no longer be disappointed.
Jesus tried to help us set proper expectations of the world when he said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” A warning like this from the creator-of-the-universe should be alarming, but thankfully Jesus wrapped this in truths aimed at dealing with our fears and frustrations. Before the statement above, he had just told his disciples about what was to come, about how he was going to be leaving the world, how things were going to change for them. Then, right before the sentence about trouble he says this, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” Please notice what the “trouble” is surrounded by – him. Jesus is saying that if we want to have peace and encouragement in the midst of the trouble-of-this-world we must be connected to him.
This is our message to the kids we see every week, most of whom are regularly dealing with hopeless situations at home and at school. Jesus is the way.
I want to close with a story of how the Lord has encouraged me lately. I am not by nature a salesperson. The emotional investment of an “ask” is something I do not take lightly. That is honestly why there is often too much time between newsletters, because I do not want my friends and family to feel pressured to give. I only write when I’m convinced I have something inspired to shared. Early on in this project I told the Lord that, I remember specifically praying, “You’ll need to send me someone who can be the fund-raiser because I cannot do it.” His clear answer to me was that I just needed to keep sharing the stories of what He is doing and He would take care of the fundraising. His faithfulness to us in this promise was again proven this past month.
Each stage of construction has brought with it either significant labor or financial costs. I recently needed to write checks for major purchases, including our heating / cooling systems, that resulted in our account balance going down well below $1,000. Part of me was anxious about this, wondering if we were being foolish, what if an unexpected bill or expense came in that we were unable to cover. At the same time, because of the bigger story that has been unfolding, I knew that this was the right next step. With the approval of our board members, I wrote the checks. Within a week, over $2,000 had come in various ways to replenish the account and two weeks later a gift of $5,000 came in. At the beginning of April our balance was back up to just a bit over $9,000, which is close to what we need for our next major purchase – 1,000 sheets of drywall. I know I’ve shared other stories like this before, but I have to keep telling you what is happening.
Your faithfulness in giving, even small gifts, adds up and is making a difference. Thank you.
Chris Edgington, Director