Ya gotta love those Sundays where nothing goes the way that anyone planned for it to go -- and yet everything goes the way that God planned it to go. Those are fun roller coaster rides to go on.
For instance, I only got about 2/3 of the way through the Sunday School lesson that I’d intended to teach (people in class were unusually chatty, which always improves the class, in my opinion), so I had to end on a theme that was a bit darker than I’d originally intended -- that the world falls into fear way too easily, and that acting out of fear usually yields bad decisions, so we all have a clear ministry of being examples of not fearing what the world fears. And then for an offertory in the service, Mark sang a song that he said had been on his heart for a year -- about not living like a slave to fear, but trusting God and living like someone with a real faith..
God knows what He’s doing.
Or as another example, Julie Philyaw (the director of Peoria’s Women’s Pregnancy Center) was going to come speak this week as part of our annual Sanctity of Human Life Sunday observation, but some family health issues rightly took precedence, and she had to bow out... leaving my old friend, Jon Rocke (the new director of Peoria Rescue Ministries) to step in and take her place in sharing the message. Knowing Julie, I’m sure that she would’ve done an excellent job, but Jon’s message was precisely what several people later shared to me they needed to hear.
Again, God knows what He’s doing.
Jon shared about the various ministries under the overarching umbrella of P.R.M., but then he also shared a message that reminded all of us that “Sanctity of Human Life” applies not only to just the unborn or the elderly, the poor or the rich, the white or the black, but everyone. All human life is sacred, because all human life has been created to glorify God.
Speaking from the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, Jon pointed out that even though Jesus was resolutely on His way to Jerusalem to take His place on the cross, He nonetheless stopped to meet the needs of ten men who cried out to Him, begging for mercy. Every human being matters -- even the ones that others may happily pass on by. The men begged Jesus for help, and in reply, He told them to go show themselves to the priests -- He called them to act out their spoken faith, to live out their trust, before they saw anything happen in their bodies. But along the way to see the priests, as they were walking, their bodies were miraculously healed of their disease.
All of them had to be ecstatic, had to be grateful... but only one of them was thankful. Oh, we as humans are often mature enough to be grateful for the blessings that we enjoy, but we often forget to be actively thankful for those blessings -- to remember not only what we’re grateful for, but whom we’re thankful to. That last leper came back to thank Jesus, falling at His feet in worship -- and so it was that last leper who was not only healed, but who was saved.
So what are you consciously grateful for today?
To whom have you been actively thankful?