Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Throughout my childhood, my parents expected things of me. I was expected to earn excellent grades, to work hard in my musical studies and to take advantage of every opportunity placed in front of me. I was expected to contribute to the family by cooking meals, helping take care of the house and garden and looking after my brother. When I was old enough to drive I was put into the rotation of staying with my great-grandma to help care for her. None of these things felt like a punishment. They were just what I was expected to do.
I have tried to pass this on to my children. We talk about how God has gifted them with specific abilities and gifts and how they need to work hard and do their best. My oldest daughter spent much of her free time in middle school writing books, composing songs on her guitar and making stacks of flash cards for all her various classes. When she moved on to high school, it was expected she would continue writing, singing and learning at the highest level. My son, who is four years younger than his sister, spent his free time with a basketball in his hands. Drenched in sweat, he wore out his shoes as he perfected dribbling, shooting and running the ball. When it came time for him to fill his high school afternoons and evenings, he ran cross-country, played basketball and took a part time job in a sporting goods store. They both knew that I expected them to show up every day and work to the best of their abilities. As their parent, I had high expectations for each of them.
As our Father, I’m sure God has high expectations for us. We were placed in 2018 with a multitude of blessings for a reason. Pastor Rhonda asked us on Sunday to reflect on how we can maximize what God has given us to both grow our faith and the kingdom of God. There isn’t one right way to serve or one opportunity of need. God gave each of us a variety of gifts and abilities to fill the wide range of needs in our world. There are people that we see every single day, in our homes, in our places of work and school that need us. There are people that we hear about in our Lincoln community that need us. There are people on the other side of the earth who don’t think, act or speak like we do that need us. God is pleased when we figure out ways to give hope to a world that needs it.
Dear God, bless our efforts. As we strive to be your children, pour your Spirit into us so that we have the strength, endurance and character to bring hope to this hurting world. Let others find Jesus in us. Amen.
Written by Julie Anderson