I am what you might call the antithesis of a mechanical wizard or small engine expert.  I have no clue as to what causes an engine to backfire or how to remedy the situation.  However, when my lawnmower or anything else run by a small gas engine backfires as I turn it off, I believe it is not a good thing.  My problem is that I generally then forget about it – until it happens again the next time I use the machine.

The day after I sent out last week’s Thirst, as I re-read it, I had the same sensation that I get from that loud bang heard when turning off my mower.  What was meant to be a simple message of how I struggle with faithfulness – and how God in Christ is THE FAITHFUL ONE – sounded much more like a personal pity party.  If, in fact, what you heard me saying last week was “Woe is ME”, then my message backfired … and I dare not treat you like any machine with a small engine.

So, please accept my apologies and hear this week what I pray is a clarification – and not another backfire!  This is a message I have communicated to many in personal conversations prior to today and intend to continue to re-emphasize many times over in the future.  I can clearly see three special blessings flowing from our current national/global scene (and If I see three, there must be many more).  First, as Monica pointed out to me, I have been able to be home at night more than ever before in our 44 years of marriage (and she is the one who first called this a “blessing”).  Second, this is forcing me out of a rut into creatively collaborating with many others on how we can effectively be Christ’s Church for emerging generations.  And third, God is providing his church on earth with an incredible opportunity to respond to the hurts and fears of the world with the healing and comforting good news of Jesus – “The harvest is plentiful” (Matthew 9.37).

Thus, my goal last week – and again this week – is primarily to share with you my excitement over two major blessings that trump (dare I use that word without offending?) all evil currently cast about by the devil, the world, and my sinful flesh.  First and foremost is the faithfulness of God in these and all circumstances.  How does he say it in Romans 8? “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. … In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us, for … nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.28, 37-39) And second, but still vital, is how God is teaching this old dog new tricks – and energizing him for them at the same time!

So today I am wondering if the words of Mordecai are ringing in your ears like they are in mine.  “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place, but you will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4.14) How many times did Jesus say (and what did he mean when he said it), “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”?  The first part of that question is rhetorical, but not the second.

My encouragement to all “hearing ears” is to consider Esther’s response to Mordecai’s words.  “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my young women will also fast as you do.  Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4.16) Now, if you think I am encouraging you here to stop eating and to disregard government stipulations at this time then Thirst will have backfired two weeks in a row!!  However, if you hear this as a call to prayer and agape-filled action, then God is giving you ears to hear … and you will know the only thing that makes learning valuable is when it is followed by execution (A little irony here – Esther’s execution of Mordecai’s plan would force either her execution by the king or rescue her people from the same).

Now, if I could only remember to tell my son about the noise his power washer made when I turned it off after borrowing it from him (and that I have no lawnmower problems)!