AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Lisa Goddard
Just tune in to any form of news media these days, and you know that the world is not in a good place. Over these past two years, a global pandemic, racial tension, war and many ideological debates have prompted me to wonder where God is in all of this, and what is going on.
Benjamin Wills prompted me to reconsider the topic this past Sunday in church when he asked a similar question, “What is God up to in the world?” But he added another, even more thought-provoking question, “What is God up to in my life?”
I am in a season where I have often asked God what he wants me to do right now, or what his plan is for me, but I don’t often consider it in the context of the greater community or world around me. What could I possibly do to have an impact on others that might make a difference, I’ve wondered.
I know God has a plan for my life and wants to communicate His desires, and while that is reassuring, how do I tap into genuinely responding to his call. Typically, I want to make those plans for myself rather than listening for what God has in mind for me. In other words, do I live in God‘s world, or does He live in mine.
As Benjamin reminded me, I need to be asking if I believe the Holy Spirit is still moving and speaking today and in my life. But more importantly, am I making space in my life to act in response to the Holy Spirit. I realize I need to be Spirit-dependent, paying close attention, praying and regularly asking God questions.
I’m aware of the turmoil that’s swirling around me, but rather than asking Him how To respond, I often retreat to my bubble of comfort. The news, locally and around the world, can certainly cause anxiety and uncertainty, but I was encouraged to hear again the good news of Revelation in Sunday’s message.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5
Even in this topsy-turvy world, He is making all things new. As Peter learned in Acts 11, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles, who are we to stand in God‘s way?
The Holy Spirit works in people who are available, and we don’t need any particular talent. We just need to actively engage…I just need to actively engage. God may be calling us out of our fear so that we can boldly move toward the pain and suffering around us. As Benjamin pointed out, an encounter with God in us can begin to affect the world around us.
My actions might begin with trusting and asking, then reaching out to others. Maybe it starts with a simple phone call or invitation. During our visualization exercise Sunday, I closed my eyes and imagined sitting at a table alongside Jesus and considered who, in my circle, might join us for a meal or conversation. That was easy, but thinking about who I might ask to come that would require me moving out of my comfort zone was a little more difficult. God is challenging us(ME)to do the hard things, and while they may not be world-changing, they might be a step in the right direction.
As Pastor Ethan Hansen wrote, “The only solution is the grace of God brought through His Son Jesus. Jesus died for our sins and offers forgiveness. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:9). When we have peace with God through Christ’s death, we can then extend peace to others.”
I don’t know what God has in store for me or the world tomorrow, but I know the end game is the promise of an glorious eternity of life with Him.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 20:11
Can we trust God? Is He worthy? He is!