The graduation cards read, “Good Luck! You did it! Congratulations on your outstanding effort! You’re going to go far! Reach for the stars! Insert money here.” I was hoping to find something a little more heart-warming and perhaps God-honoring.Yes, it takes effort for most students to get good grades. And some graduates have worked very hard to pass all their classes in good standing. But have we thought about our God-given gifts and abilities? The brains He blesses us with? The wisdom, guidance, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit as we’ve “burned the midnight oil”? OK, maybe I should write greeting cards … or at least find another place to shop.
Several women commented, but no one could explain the reason that the day of Jesus’ horrific suffering could possibly be called good. One woman was so intrigued that she discussed the Bible story with her family at dinner that night. She went to her computer to search for the meaning of Good Friday. She printed an answer, brought it back to the group of women, and reported, “Good Friday is the day on which Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And that is good for us.”
Over the next few days, there were many questions about that door. Why is it there? Where do the things go? Why don’t they come back again? I showed him that the dirty clothes fall into a box near the ceiling of the basement; I open a door on the box and pull out the pieces, I explained, and then I wash everything. He wanted to help pull out the items, and was especially excited at finding some of his own clothes there. Then he asked, “Why can’t I see where it goes? Where’s the other part? Why is it dark?”
Recently I attended a women’s retreat at a campground in the northern part of lower Michigan. The trees were just beginning to turn; as we drove further north, the display of color became more and more amazing. Here and there red leaves and pink, yellows and gold, and brilliant orange peeked out among the greens. As I gazed on the beauty around me, I was appreciative of our Creator God. Then it started to rain.
Light splashes here and there on the windshield became a steady drizzle, then a downpour. Gray clouds turned dark, and fog rolled in as the temperature began dropping. We could no longer see the color because of the darkness. It was still raining when we arrived at camp, and the ground was turning to muck. I thought of the umbrella hanging in my closet at home, and was glad I had packed a hooded, all-weather jacket.
Over the past several months, God has been making me more aware of the spiritual battles that Christians face. Ephesians 6:11-12 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV) Tuning in to any newscast or perusing any daily newspaper will confirm that the devil is alive and well on Earth, and that his servants are very busy.
But what I cherish most is my mother’s passion for caring for the poor of our community. For years, Mom made deliveries of food and basic supplies from the food pantry of our church, to indigent families nearby. I have often wondered if the bread, milk and meat she always included were purchased from her own pocket. The deliveries were often made well after dark, sometimes in the dead of winter, in crime-ridden neighborhoods, to families she did not know. But when she received a call from Social Services that a family was in crisis or a father had lost his job, my mom responded.