As it says in Acts 20:24, "But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace." When a witness testifies in a trial, that person simply describes what they experienced... what they saw and heard with their own eyes.
With that on my mind, I want to testify as to what I have seen of God's goodness this week, framed by Psalm 146.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
May I never tire of thanking God for another day of life, for a roof over my head, for a full stomach, for a great family full of friends and fulfilling work, for faith itself.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
This is a summer filled with conversations about career and future and identity as I work with college-aged interns... I regret the many years I spent in putting my "trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help." I believed the lie of this world, that we find security in material wealth, power, status and success, that who we are is what we do. Rather, I rejoice that these young adults are trying to figure out how to put their faith wholly in the Eternal One. They spur me on with their earnest questions and open hearts.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
This week my home group was with our friends at Laundry Love again. I never fail to be humbled by the hardship of their stories and struggle. Too often we characterize folks like these as "bums" or "lazy." They are now individual people to me, not without fault certainly, but I cannot walk by them with a brush of the hand or an averted gaze. I am learning how to listen, how to care, how to pray and encourage.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
I spend time each week working with pastors all over, in various contexts and with a wide variety of experience. This week, I met with a married couple who are leading a Free Methodist church where there are services conducted each week in three separate languages. If that is not amazing enough, they were contacted by six international students from a local seminary who heard about their church through Yelp (God bless 21st century social media) and want to join their congregation because they love the diversity of their body and the united focus on Christ. As I spoke with this couple I felt like I tasted eternity: where prisoners are free, the blind regain sight, the hurting and lonely find homes, where there is no longer division and hate... instead, where shalom exists in fullness and there is wholeness and reconciliation.
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
May your eyes and ears be attentive to the many blessings around you. Testify.