Get well soon. We love you and miss you. Praying that God will heal you, …. restore you, and put a joy in your heart that passes all understanding.
Oftentimes in conversation with various family members in the faith, somewhere in the middle of their story, I hear the same statement made - over and over. “As we left home, we would put on our masks so no one at church would really know what is going on in our lives.” It’s statements like these that make me wonder why so many are baffled why many of the children of these families have chosen to walk away from the Lord. A mask? Among the family of God? To that end I proudly declare as far as the Port Huron Church of Christ is concerned - no mask required! I say this because as a family, we understand messy lives. We understand struggling to live beyond the old man. We understand dysfunctional, because whom among us is not? We unmask ourselves not because we are proud of our dysfunction, but because we realize we don’t have to hide it. When we see the church as a hospital for the spiritually sick, instead of a haven for the righteous, we give ourselves permission to burn our masks. Jesus invites us to abandon our old man and embrace the new He is transforming us into. If Jesus knows our hearts, our lives and everything about us, what good would a mask do, except teach us to deceive one another? To those feeling a need to wear a mask, I want to encourage you to free yourself by unmasking, giving yourself permission to wear your real face. Freedom in Christ begins with accepting who we are. As we unmask, we become “real” and when the world walks in among us, they see others who, like themselves, are struggling to be better. I thank God our perfection was not a prerequisite for being His children. I thank God he chose us along with those who seem to have it much more together than we do.
”Father, thank You for giving us family members who have a faith we can look up to and emulate; and in so doing, gives us the courage to leave our masks at home. And finally Father, thank You for this wonderful place, among these wonderful people, where masks are not required.”
As I look out over the congregation, I see a great number who are struggling in their walk with God - yet they refuse to give up. To those of you to whom these words apply, I want to encourage you to keep going. Continue to hold on regardless, because your deliverance is near. There have been many among our number who have given up for a variety of reasons, not thinking when it comes time at the end to stand at the judgment - no reason will be good enough. Imagine attempting to convince an all-knowing God why you abandoned His family, and decided life was better for you in the world.
One of my favorite powerful moments in the Bible took place when the crowds on one occasion abandoned Jesus in John 6:66. Many in the crowd were those of the 5,000 who had been fed by Jesus. Now in this conversation leading up to verse 66, Jesus offers them something greater than mere food. As He seeks to offer them life, He explains to them who He is, and what they needed to do. Unfortunately, they could not accept what Jesus was saying, and the Bible says they began to grumble among themselves. And then, in one of the saddest statements recorded in the New Testament, the Bible says, “from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” However, it was then one of the greatest statements was made, when He turned to the twelve, and said are you going to leave me too? And they answered, “where can we go, you have the words of eternal life.” What a great moment of declaration for those who truly follow Jesus for all the right reasons.
It is no different for us today. As Satan battles you daily, remember the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. Remember when you gave him your life. And remember, there is no other place to go, because he indeed has the words of eternal life. My prayer is that you will continue to fight the good fight of faith -refusing to budge an inch towards turning back. Lastly, continue to strive and hang on with all you have, until you make heaven your home.
Often my mind takes me back to D-Day, and I replay the scene as the allied soldiers were landing on the beach at Normandy. What often overwhelms my emotions was the sheer courage of those soldiers. As their landing craft hit the beach, the door was dropped and as the soldiers evacuated the boat, the Germans gunned them down. One by one, man after man, boat after boat. Non-stop. History records that so many died as they landed, the water turned red with the blood of fallen soldiers. Imagine, if you will, your boat is approaching the beach amidst a hail of gunfire. As you look around you, there are dead bodies in the water everywhere, and the water is red with blood. The beachhead also is littered with dead bodies. But they keep coming, using the bodies of the dead as shields against the barrage of German gunfire. Each of those men mustered all their courage to make it onto the beach with one thought in mind - we must silence the guns of the Germans. Someone has got to get through. If just a few of us can get through, then we can save the lives of the others behind us. What incredible courage. What incredible purpose. What incredible perseverance! Regardless how hopeless things appeared in the moment, they remained true to their mission - secure the beach at any cost.
As we read the Bible, time after time, the people of God have found themselves in similar situations. Everything appeared hopeless, and then at just the right time, God stepped in and changed everything. Sometimes it appears as though he waits for us to recognize our limitations before he shows up, so that He gets the glory and the worship of His people. Regardless how things seem, God is in control. The battle is still His. He calls us as His children to persevere on to victory - through our trust in him. Nothing could change the mission on D-Day and neither can Satan sidetrack ours. Let us march on to victory- with our God before us!