Jesus knew we would have moments, weeks, and even seasons when we would be overwhelmed. That's why He doesn't leave us to muddle through those overwhelming emotions and seasons alone. He gives us an example- His example.
The church of Philadelphia was a contrast to Sardis. While Sardis had "soiled" clothes, Philadelphia's clothes were much "cleaner". While I am quite sure the people of the Church of Philadelphia were not perfect, it is certainly worth noting that Christ had nothing to criticize them for (at least worth mentioning in the letter).
They were enduring.
Keeping the Word.
No denying His name.
With what little strength they had.
And Christ tells them to hold on to what they have.
Jesus saw each of these churches. He saw and knew each area they were strong in and where their weaknesses were too. He knows and sees us too. He searches the hearts and the minds of His people. While the church of Ephesus needed to go back to the love they had at first, Thyatira was the opposite. They were growing. They were loving, and serving, and persevering more than they had before. But parallel to that growth was the secular world they were getting caught up in.
I thought about going over the parable of the soils with you (if you are not familiar with it head over to Matthew 13:1–23, it is worth the read). But then, I remembered a drive I took a few years ago in the summer. I remembered passing by two farm fields. The two were side by side and the contrast caught my eye. One was full of a crop about to be harvested. It was lush and green and abundant. The other had sparse growth, was unkept, dry, and invaded by weeds.
Now, growth happens for different people at different rates and different seasons. Each of us have our own faith walk and what we shouldn't do is compare. However, if we want to keep growing, if we want to end up with that lush, abundantly green field, rather than the dry, sparse one, there are things we can do to get there. I think Christ gives us a good start in this letter to Thyatira.
Some days I'm grateful for masks. Especially on those no-make-up, tired-eye, or swollen-tear-faced kind of days. Some days the mask I wear isn't to cover bare skin, under eye bags, and signs of age. This mask I put on to cover who I am. To cover my past. My flaws. My hurt. My brokenness. My fallenness.
I have fallen more times than I care to admit. Fallen into a "little" sin that seemed to creep in without me realizing. Fallen quietly without anyone noticing but me.
But other falls? They have been not so tiny. They have been not so private. And they have been not so quiet. We all fall and often when we do, the mask we have been hiding behind is removed.
Our prayers move the heart of God.
Did you know that?
Sometimes those prayers come out of a difficult season. Some of those prayers are born out of poor decisions we have made, out of trials we are suffering, or out of circumstances within or around us. Some prayers end up blooming out of important lessons; prayers that help train us and build faith that could not be built quite the same under other circumstances.
Gather- It’s a word that many like to use, but perhaps one that many of us have taken for granted. It reminds us of meals with friends, holidays with family, and coming together to worship.
Biblical festivals were a time to gather, but God instituted these gatherings for more than just providing a time to celebrate, laugh, and practice traditions. These festivals were created to remember the past. Why? Because too often, we forget.
This Holy week, when many of our Easter traditions are modified, my family is incorporating a new one.
I am not a minimalist.
Not in any way, shape, or form.
My family actually laughed when I told them that the subject I was going to be writing about was minimalism. My daughter even teasingly went as far as to say that I like to hoard things.
I certainly do not. At least I do not hoard "things", anyway.
Fear. I know it well.
Fear and I were good friends.
Years ago, late at night, my house was intentionally shot at.
My son has a favorite stuffed animal. It goes everywhere with him. In the car. To the store, the park, to Grandma's house. When he is scared or scrapes his knee, that stuffed animal is there to comfort him. He may need me too, but that little animal is what calms and soothes him. One look at this bedraggled stuffed animal and you know it is well loved; precious in the eyes of my little boy.
When my son fell the other day and hurt his arm, he reached for that animal, and it got me thinking. As adults, we don't have a favorite stuffed animal to comfort us (at least most of us don't - if you do, it’s ok! no judging here!). So, if not a stuffed animal, what do we cling to when we are scared or hurt? What do we reach for in the dark and lonely places? When everything around us seems foreign and chaotic, where do we turn?