Every Christian has a story to tell. Some conversion testimonies are more dramatic and spectacular than others. Some claim to have seen a vision of Jesus, or that He healed them of a terminal disease. My simple story is that 45 years ago, someone shared the gospel with me and I believed. There was no thunder and lightning, but my heart was changed forever.
Shortly after he invented the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell reportedly said, “I do not think I am exaggerating the possibilities of this invention when I tell you that it is my firm belief that one day there will be a telephone in every major town in America.” One telephone in every town? If he only knew. Bell needed to dream bigger.
“Risen Lord, teach us to trust: the power of your cross.” I read the words of this liturgy after a week of heartbreaking news in my country, the kind of week when trust is difficult. For many people today, despair feels easier than hope, and fear and hatred feel more powerful than love.
In October 2017, the Twitter hashtag #metoo reached epic status, but the movement began in 2006 with Tarana Burke’s efforts to bring the reality of sexual assault before the public eye. Recently, my husband and I met with a longtime friend who shared with us her own pain of having been sexually abused by family members at a young age. As we listened, we felt led to tell her that, while God is a God of mercy who could forgive those who had hurt her, He also felt deep anger toward the injustice of the pain created in her life by the violation she’d experienced.
Hanging up the phone, I gathered a few items and waited for my husband to arrive. He’d just called from the church where he and our son had been working on a few building repairs. From the brief exchange, I learned that our son had been in an accident but was stable enough for us to drive him to the hospital. Even with uncertainties pounding in my mind, I knew in that moment how important it was to make my worship stronger than my worries. The supremacy of God and His goodness had not changed.
After cancer took the life of a Ugandan child I’d been caring for during his final months, the boy’s family and village leaders gathered to decide how to thank me for what I’d done on behalf of one of their own. They concluded that the best way to express gratitude, while also consoling me as I grieved the loss of the child I dearly loved, would be to give me his younger brother.
The mood in the church was heavy as believers in my city gathered to mourn the horror of a racist demonstration in America and its deadly aftermath. As we united to grieve and pray, a question seemed to hang in the air: What does it mean to hope during days like this—when evil is on full display and when the justice of God’s kingdom seems far away?
Four year old David climbed into bed one night and folded his hands to pray. “Dear God, thank You for Lego Star Wars,” he said. “General Grievous has four lightsabers! Watch.” He stood up on the bed and began a dramatic rendition of a battle in the air using imaginary lightsabers. His mum tried not to laugh as she watched. David finished his performance, dropped back down on the bed and folded his hands again. “Amen!”
Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!
The song “You Are My One Thing,” by songwriter Hannah McClure voices a deep cry of the heart to walk closely with God and experience His presence. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder of how our relationship with God can transform our lives. Hannah says that the song came out of a season when God was calling her back to remember the time where she’d first experienced the depth of His love for her.
When we first welcomed a fifteen-year-old Chinese exchange student into our family, we thought it would be for only one year of high school. But years later he’s still part of the family. And we’ve added his younger brother to our growing group. Both young men were quiet and a bit reclusive when they first arrived—adapting to a new culture. But it’s been beautiful to see their hearts open to God’s love and to our own. Their faces now typically display smiles, and laughter effortlessly spills from their lips.
Following World War I, there was no more accomplished golfer than Bobby Jones. In 1930, he achieved the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, British Open, US Amateur, and British Amateur championships—all in the same year! The golfing world was stunned, however, when shortly following those victories Jones decided to retire from golf. He didn’t decide to hang up the spikes because his skills had diminished in any way. Instead, the talented athlete made his decision because he had accomplished the greatest feat in golf at the time and had nothing left to prove. He simply chose to give his golf career a rest.
Golf, with its myriad rules and special victor jackets, is marked by tradition and sportsmanship. But feuds between golfers can be surprisingly bitter, perhaps few more so than the rift between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. So when Garcia won his first major tournament in 2017, commentators expected Woods to scoff and point out how his own accomplishments dwarfed his rival’s. But instead, he tweeted brief but sincere congratulations to Garcia, calling the victory “well-earned.” One can only wonder how Garcia reacted to this unexpected response!
On the evening before his sister’s marriage in 1882, Scottish preacher George Matheson experienced great pain and loneliness. He’d relied on his sister for help with his work as a church leader, so he may have been worried and distraught over how he would cope without her. His emotions were probably also intensified by the memories of some years before when his fiancée, after learning he was going blind, broke off their engagement. That evening Matheson turned his anguish to prayer and, in mere minutes, wrote the now-beloved hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” He who’d felt abandoned found love and rest in the One who would never leave him.
“The self-esteem movement has failed us,” argues Simon Smart in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. Smart describes how, in reaction to the (often humiliatingly) performance-based way people’s worth was assessed in the past, culture shifted to emphasize self-esteem. The problem, Smart explains, is that the self-esteem movement implied “you can find everything you need from within yourself”—which ironically left many “feeling deeply inadequate,” isolated, and unprepared for the world’s harsh realities.