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What do you grieve and what do you celebrate?

Jennifer and Pat Cross and their three children (Lauren, Mitch, and Lily) are members of ZPC. Jennifer serves on the board of Zionsville Show Choirs and volunteers for Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. She is happiest when hiking outdoors or sharing a homemade meal with family or friends.

Today's Scripture: Colossians 1:2-14

What do you grieve and what do you celebrate?

When the world came to a halt in March, Camp Cross was full again. Every chair filled at the dinner table as all 5 of us took our seats like an assigned church pew on Sunday. I was grateful! My mama heart said, “This is going to be terrific!” But, as the days of quarantine started to tick away, I found myself cycling between unfamiliar extremes: highly anxious and ultra zen. As a believer, I know God’s grace is constant. He is present during certain and uncertain times. So why, when I needed it most, was it difficult to access this peace?

In April, one of my devotional pages guided me to some deeper self-examination. In New Morning Mercies, Paul Tripp writes, “Today the true love of your heart will be revealed by what you grieve and what you celebrate.” Oh boy, did I have some griefs. Cancellations started to fill my inbox and anticipated cancellations loomed over my head like a storm cloud. Music Finale, prom, weddings, Ben Rector concert, family vacations, and Symphony on the Prairie were all lost in a matter of weeks. Symphony on the Prairie…really?! Yes, I was super sad about that one. As the losses started to pile up, they robbed me of motivation, concentration and joy.   

As we got deeper into the month of April, Starkey Park greened and the days got warmer. I was able to fire up the grill and meet friends on the trail for walks. The pattern of our lockdown was starting to be familiar. These treasured hikes and meals started to produce small gifts and blessings. One was the devotion book I mentioned, it came as a recommendation from my jogging buddy Christie. Then came an invitation to attend virtual church service with my son. My oldest shared some personal observations about me that were helpful and insightful. Ah, the student becomes the teacher! Our youngest, received an apology from a friend--people can heal, come around, and things don’t have to stay broken. We played Rummikub, painted rocks, sharpened our pool game, added a cucumber plant to the garden, baked homemade pizzas on English muffins and hiked muddy trails. In this time of pause, God’s grace and joy revealed itself in moments and activities, big and small. Like a filter in my iPhoto, the perspective of grief and joy started to sharpen, and I was able to see God in the middle of this difficult space.

Often, when we stand at the intersection of sadness and celebration, our hearts are exposed. Tripp, in his devotion, points out that he is, “convicted by how much of my joy is connected to getting my way to physical things I’ve set my heart on.” He suggests that our grief and the things we celebrate reveal what truly has a hold on our hearts. Is it ok to be sad? Yes, it’s important to be sad and to grieve and move through loss in a healthy way. However, I wanted to challenge myself to keep looking at these things relative to my walk with Christ. 

Today, I am encouraging you to sit down and “unpack” your griefs and joys and then join me in this prayer: “God thank you for the big and small joys of life. Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing these real-life examples during these unusual times and take this evidence and transform my life. God, I also pray for the ability to examine what I mourn. Give me honest and open eyes to see what I am attached to and reflect on what that tells me about myself. Help me see where I need you. Thank you, Lord, for your grace.”  

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How can we be still?

About the Author:  Sean O’Dell (21) is a senior at Purdue who is actively involved in Purdue Bands and Orchestras, Krannert School of Management, and Purdue CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). Sean is the son of long-time members Brian and Susan O’Dell as well as the grandson of Bob and Clair Tibbetts.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God…”

It is highly likely that you have heard or read this verse before; after all, it is one of the most popular in the Bible. Right now, in the state of our world, it sure seems like a good one to remember. If you’re like me, you read this verse to remind yourself to relax and let God do the work. It does promote healthy rest in God. But, in some studying, I have found there is more to this verse: it is a call to “wake up” or “snap out of it” and realize who is on our side: the creator of the universe! Suddenly, this verse takes on a whole new meaning.

In early April, I “attended” a virtual gathering of college students throughout the nation for an event put on by Cru entitled Be Still 2020. Scrolling through my phone recently, I stumbled upon the notes I took during that event. I would love to share some of these ideas that promote rest in a God who is greater than we could ever fathom yet renew our energy to face this crazy world with a sense of confidence.

  • We have all faced cancelled events, opportunities, etc., but you are right on schedule with God; you are right where you need to be.
  • We may be stressed, but Jesus? He is calm.
  • The most miserable day in human history (Jesus’ death) is called Good! Surely, he will do something good with this time.
  • God never promised us a concrete plan for a year…or ten years. But He has ALWAYS promised us that he will give us what we need TODAY.
  • It is OK to freak out. It is OK to be anxious, to worry. But the enemy wants you to move into those places, decorate it and live there. Those places are OK so long as we look to a rock that is higher.
  • Being still means recognizing that God is on a mission and he cannot be stopped!

So – God’s message is two-fold. Carve out time to learn more about him, pray (perhaps for 8 minutes 46 seconds, as Jerry challenged us to do), and truly rest in his presence. But, be energized! Connect with friends and family, hone those new hobbies, love others, continue to protect our most vulnerable during this pandemic, stand alongside our black brothers and sisters, support the causes of those seeking to be equal in the eyes of man, knowing we are all equal in the eyes of God, and keep your eyes on God knowing that if you have signed up for a life with Jesus, you’re in a story that will not end. Be Still. Know – and be energized, reminded, encouraged – that he is God.

PRAYER:

Dear God,
Thank you for times of rest where we can look closer at our relationship with you and meditate on your presence.  May we always be mindful that you want us to BE STILL and truly KNOW that you are GOD.   A God of love, of mercy, of patience and who loves each of us just as we are.  We pray for healing in our country and around the world.  May we strive to be one world, one country and one people who love one another despite our differences.
In the name of your son Jesus I pray,
AMEN 

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