This was a week of all kinds of emotional ups and downs here at First Covenant Church.
On the one hand, we showed the commercial for our annual Chili Cook-Off coming up on November 4, complete with cowboy music, whip-crack sounds, and a rogues’ gallery of Youth kids to serve as judges for the event. An amazing number of people refused to believe that the narrator of the video was your aged pastor (most were certain that it was actually Bud Magnuson), so you’d have to watch it for yourself to make that decision.
On the other hand, we made sure to share about the need for prayer for Cliff Johnson, currently in the hospital for edema in his legs, my daughter Megan, who is struggling through a severe and debilitating migraine as she works through the teaching component of her practicum, and Susan Schmider’s family, who are grieving the death of her mother, Wava Miles, this past Thursday. The visitation for Wava will be held at the church building this coming Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00, and the funeral will be held on Friday morning at 10:00.
I think Peggy summarized things well in her prayer this week, as we prayed for continued healing for Sherry Sansom, who is recovering from her recent stroke... and yet was sitting in service and doing well on Sunday! We can and should lift up our needs to the Lord, but always remember that there are always items for praise, even in the midst of the most complicatedly difficult times that we face. It’s a complex life that we live...
We touched on that in our message this week as we talked about Hell. See, as we continue our series looking at things that people see in God’s actions or character that have perceivably made it “difficult” for them to want to follow Him, one of the major questions people ask is, “How can a loving God throw people into Hell?” But it’s really more complex than that.
Just as a loving parent can--and often should--allow their children to face the natural consequences of their behaviors, our loving Father chooses to do the same with us. Sometimes, that could be allowing a nation to face hardship to get us to recognize their sinful paradigms and repent. Or it could be flooding the planet to “reboot” it for a more righteous generation. Or it could be allowing us to arrive at precisely the destination we’re aiming for in Hell.
Because when you think about it, the natural end point of a life lived apart from God is logically an after-life lived apart from God, and that’s Hell--if you aim for Chicago, you’ll hit Chicago; if you aim for Bolivia, you’ll hit Bolivia; if you aim for Hell, you’ll hit Hell. It’s not un-loving for God to allow us to arrive at the end of the path that we ourselves have chosen to walk. It’s logical, spiritual physics.
In fact, if anything, it’s tremendously loving for God to have been willing to shed His own life’s blood to buy us the chance to get back on the right road before it’s too late--especially since He did on our behalf that while we were still happily trotting down the wrong road.
So when I think of Hell, I don’t think of how un-loving God must be--I’m actually overwhelmed by how amazingly loving God truly is that He so sincerely desires to save us from it, and that He gives us so freely a salvation that cost Him so dearly.
See? I told you that it’s complex...