I helped a friend carry two couches up three flights of stairs the other day. In doing this I realized that I may be thirty in my head, but in my body I am actually entering my 60th year, next week. This just seems so bizarre! As long as I don’t look in a mirror I feel quite youthful. Some years, like this last one have been very challenging yet it is these trying times that I have, I almost want to say discovered but it is more like, reconfirmed the faithfulness of God.
Nearly 33 years ago the Bishop Allen from the Diocese of Keewatin was preaching at my Commissioning Service. He was talking about what a brave group this Threshold Ministries (then called the Church Army) was. He went on to talk about a most difficult place in his own diocese, to which I was being sent. He spoke of the violence and the crime and the addictions. He painted a picture of a place of terrible darkness which needed the light! So vivid was his picture that my mother almost stopped the service to drag me out. It was a daunting journey I was beginning and it is no less so today.
I have been thinking of those early days lately as I have been regularly seeing M., a Cree gentleman from Manitoba. We plan to meet weekly to play a game of chess and chat, though he is much better than me. We chat about life in the Cree Community and we talk about our Creator God and His plans for us. M. like so many of his brothers and sisters has a giant ‘chip on his shoulder’ about Christianity. Past history has made him distrustful if not hostile toward the Faith. He knows that I am unashamedly a follower of Jesus but he is coming to know me not for what I profess but for who I am and how I live. M. comes to our Recovering Hope program and though he is a long way from making a profession of his own he is open to the fact that the Creator may love him and have plans to prosper him and not harm him to give him a future and a hope. I wish I could extend folks as much grace as M. shows to me. I believe he is not far from the Kingdom.
I still feel God’s call to the difficult place and my mother still does not understand. I still see violence and addiction but I also see hope. I see stupidity but I also see bravery in the face of terrible opposition. I see people imprisoned in their addictions but I see people being freed. In all of this I am constantly reminded of God’s great faithfulness.
The way is still daunting and I remember “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” And “nothing can separate us from the love of God” Perhaps you face difficult (seemingly impossible) circumstances. My experience tells me that God will bring you through, though it be a painful passage. He is faithful and so we can be full of faith in Him and the strength He alone can provide.