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  • Ed Hlad

Gut Check

When I was a youth pastor we took the teens on a good number of trips. We loved getting away by ourselves for a time and sharing life and the Word of God together. After several of these trips I began to notice something. No matter how long the trip was, right in the middle of the trip we began to have some issues. Bad attitudes, interpersonal relationships, or just general moodiness. After noticing this the first time, I did not say anything, but began to keep an eye out to see if this theory of mine held true. And it did. Right in the middle of our trips, we struggled. If it was only a weekend trip the struggle was usually mild and short. If it was a week long trip then the issues lasted longer and were more intense. Once we took a trip for about five weeks and the blow up in the middle of that almost cost us an important ministry. I am not sure what causes these hicccups. Was it the subconscious idea that we were on the downside of the trip, or that we were working so hard to get along that our efforts wore out in the middle, or was it me? I am not sure that I ever figured out why but I know that I always made myself ready for how the struggle would show up. I found that I could prepare my heart for what was to come and was better able to lead through it


I am not sure if we are in the middle of this shutdown or not. I have heard several dates as to when people believe that we will start moving towards normalcy. I have also heard, and I think we all know it, that it will take a long time before we truly move forward. But I have seen cracks in my own attitude, in my own spiritual joy, and in the actions of others. We are getting ready to blow. Getting ready to have the mid-journey melt down. We need a stress reliever. We need a shot in the arm. I believe God, in his graciousness, is giving it to us.


I heard about a message preached on Good Friday. The preacher wound the congregation up by repeating the phrase, “It is Friday…, It is Friday…, It is Friday...”. Each time he spoke those words, he spoke them with more passion and with more volume. He then delivered his point, “But Sunday is coming”. To the disciples, that Friday was bleak and heart breaking. But then Sunday came and they were able to spend the rest of their lives trying to fully understand what they saw. The marvelous truth of the resurrection turned the darkest Friday to Good Friday.


God’s timing is always perfect. He is in total control of all things. Even when and how this virus would hit our lives here in NJ. By his grace, he timed it, for us, so that right when we needed a shot in the arm, Sunday came. This celebration of his resurrection may be different than what you have done in the past but we probably needed to shake things up anyway. Make it a great day for those you love. Dads, do some study and lead your family in the truths of Jesus. Moms, teach your children in unique ways about what it means that the tomb is empty. Eat special foods. Call special people. Seek special ways to minister to each other and to your friends, neighbors, and family. Use the week to plan these things out. Spend some quiet time on Friday reflecting on how all the work done on the cross has changed your life. Spend a few minutes on Saturday trying to think of how the disciples were feeling on this day. Rise up on Sunday with the anticipation that you will find the tomb empty. Of course, join us at 10:00 a.m. as we worship together as Parish Peeps (gotta watch the last episode of Big Thoughts, for Little People, on Bad T.V.). Spend the day doing your planned activities as you seek to glorify God and give him thanks for sending his son.


Fight the “middle of the journey” blues. God has given us the perfect shot in the arm. The perfect solution to all of our misery and woe. Jesus! He is always the correct answer. If you take my suggestions and just make them about new activity, then those activities will probably do more harm than good. When the activity dust settles you will become truly bummed as you realize that your situation is the same and the party is over. But if you truly make your day and lives about Jesus and the glory of God, your heart will have true reason to rejoice. Make this week, not about newer activity, but about new ways to share with others, new ways to remind your own heart, and new ways to worship our great God.


Fight the “middle of the journey” blues. God has given us the perfect shot in the arm. The perfect solution to all of our misery and woe. Jesus! He is always the correct answer. If you take my suggestions and just make them about new activity, then those activities will probably do more harm than good. When the activity dust settles you will become truly bummed as you realize that your situation is the same and the party is over. But if you truly make your day and lives about Jesus and the glory of God, your heart will have true reason to rejoice. Make this week, not about newer activity, but about new ways to share with others, new ways to remind your own heart, and new ways to worship our great God.

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