Last night I was invited by a gentlemen in our church to go to our local salvation army dinner. The goal of the evening were to celebrate the wonderful things they have done in the past year, as well as recruit "bell ringers" for the upcoming Christmas season. Through all the celebrations and handing out of awards, I was wonderful to see what God has used incredible people (many who do it voluntarily) to do in West Chester. During dinner I was able to sit next to a woman who had been a bell ringer the prior year. As we began to dialogue I heard her story. A little over a year ago her 18 year old son took his life. Tears began to well up in her eyes and throughout the evening she would continually take brief moments to gather herself. I tried my best to encourage her, to let her know of loss I have had and how even though we never believe it at the time, it DOES get easier. Tears turn to smiles, loss turns to recognizing the blessing that we were blessed to have the time we did, and life in general moves on.
I was in love with her story for one particular aspect. After her son took his life she began to go through his bible. She bought around 50 of the exact same bible and highlighted ALL the same scriptures her son had highlighted in his bible. Her goal was to find some of his friends, or anyone who has gone through loss and grief and give them to them. Strong is the heart of a mother. Stronger then grief.
The theme of the night was Salvation Army's general theme "Doing the most good". Nothing could have been more demonstrated to me that night then a mother who loved her child, and desired to do the "most good' out of a horrible situation.
I was reading Pete Wilson's blog today and he spoke of a story where someone texted him this powerful scripture. It sums up where our hope, courage and faith comes from.
Lamentations 3:21-24The Message (MSG)
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember--
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
John 8:3-11 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the sand with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Jesus wore many titles, none greater the Son of God, my Messiah. But there's a certain title Jesus holds to me as a "provocateur", or someone who "provokes". He could rustle up some type of emotion, or just some good ol' fashioned dissension.
In this particular scripture he is brought a woman caught in adultery, brought before him to be judged. SET THE SCENE BABY, THE LINE HAS BEEN DRAWN IN THE SAND! The pharisees (oh silly pharisees) are calling Jesus to make a clear judgement upon her. It's a slam dunk case. She was caught in the act!
(My note: I find it crucial to point that to the Pharisees it is not that they cared what SHE did, but how HE judged. Their own intentions of finding someone in the midst of sin was even off base according to their hearts. "VS 9 that they might have something of which to accuse Him".
Bella Principal: So literally theres a bunch of guys in robes running around trying to find an affair in action......AWWWWWKKKKKWWWWWARD!).
What does Jesus do here? What any provocateur would (fight me on Jesus NOT leading with sarcasm and I will bite your ear off). He starts building a sand castle (see sarcasm threat) "But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the sand with His finger, as though He did not hear"). Jesus never loses his cool, you never see him sweat.
What you do see, is him disempowering the pharisees. By writing, he's actually erasing.
Those who came to provoke, stood in front of the king of provocation. Jesus brought dissension in the spirit of defense. By playing in the sand, Jesus erased the line of Legalism, the line of pride, the line of arrogance, the line of self-righteousness. Jesus, by writing in the sand, actually erased the lines drawn by men in the sand.
Bella Principal: People will accuse, hurt, wound and kick you in the teeth. These are lines being drawn, and you are being dared to cross them to start a fight, lose your peace, and act out irrationally. Be patient, find the peace of God, seek forgiveness and give it freely, and erase the lines in the sand.