Generally speaking, I use Sunday afternoon through Monday morning for recovery and reflection. A little relaxation with food and beverage … getting my head organized for the week ahead … reading the Free Press … some Bible reading and prayer … watching some sports (I wish). I hope you noticed the word “generally.” Such was not the case this past weekend. Rather, in those 24 hours I received a text, an email, a private message, and a phone call … all needing immediate and prayerful attention.
Now, I do not want you to misunderstand – I am not complaining here. Rather, I am reflecting upon how this is really what our life together is like … and all about … these days. We may not be able to be together as we would prefer, but that does not mean that we need to be broken apart.
Four very different people reached out to me in four very different ways, with four very distinct reasons, but with one and the same need. Fear … uncertainty … confusion … apprehension … those unsettling feelings had suddenly come their way. Their stomachs were knotted, and their knees ready to buckle by the curve that life had thrown them.
They were looking for the kind of encouragement that only Christ can offer. And, fortunately, they knew their Savior’s invitation. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3.20) Their contacting me was an act of opening that door and inviting Jesus in.
Again, I do not want you to misunderstand – I do not have any sort of ‘god complex’. These four individuals reached out to me because our mutual friend, Jesus – strange those it may seem – works through ordinary people (like you and me) to accomplish extraordinary things. “My friend, share with me our Friend’s peace … and confidence … and assurance,” they were saying to me.
Ironically (or not), the text of my sermon that morning had prepared me (whether I realized it at the time or not) for these four contacts. “Even if you suffer, you are blessed. Do not fear … do not be frightened. But in your heart set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3.14-15) They were looking for the courage to suffer … to speak … and to live in hope … the very thing I had spoken of Sunday morning.
They were coming to Jesus, through me, feeling broken … and alone. But our Lord’s promise is clear, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42.3) His simple word to them (and to us all) – unbroken.
“Unbroken is my connection with you.” “Unbroken is your hope, and courage, and life in me.” “Unbroken is my care … unbroken is my body, the church.”
Please do not misunderstand me – particularly in this time when so many things appear to be broken – we, as the body of Christ, are called by him “unbroken … united … strong … courageous.” And that is what – and who – we are. And it also is why we are here … to respond to that text … email … private message … phone call … yes, even that nasty post … “with gentleness and respect” and an “explanation of the hope we have” in Christ … the one who took upon himself our brokenness, that we might be … you know … unbroken