Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.- Mark 10:29,30
…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.- 2 Corinthians 6:10
This is more of a personal post with a few specific people in mind, but I hope it will be an encouragement to others who read it. The world on this side of the resurrection and ascension of Christ is new in every way. For the Christian, life has been transformed. We see and experience the world in a way totally different from the “world” of which we were a part. Our definitions change. Our desires and commitments change. Our perspectives change. How we relate to others changes. To be united with Christ unites us to His body, the Church. And being united to the Church makes all the difference in the world!
I don’t know about you, but my natural tendency is to focus on and remember the difficulties, hardships, sacrifices, and sorrows. I notice the man or woman or family who seems to have what I lack much more often than I notice those who lack what I have been given. But this past year in particular, I have been overwhelmed with the reality of how blessed we are in Christ through the Church; how much God richly bestows good things to every one of his sons and daughters no matter what the particular circumstance or stage of life.
The Bailey family can be quite a mess at times. We are not well organized, we do not have 5 and 10 year plans, we do not have speadsheets, portfolios, or even a workable budget much of the time. In the midst of a typical day, it can feel a lot more like survival than kingdom building. But what I hope truly describes us is our supreme love for God, our unshakable trust in His promises, and our unwavering commitment to be faithful to His ways and means. Now, this is a grand statement and sounds glorious to write. I do not mean that we have arrived in any of these three areas. What I am saying is that on our worst days, when life gets really messy, we see these three things as our only hope. There is no plan B.
This means that the way we raise our children is often inconvenient and taxing and rarely results in quick fixes. This means that we center all of our schedules and commitments around the gatherings of the Church. This means we do whatever it takes, from living standards to career choices, to ensure that our children are educated in a deeply Christ-centered, mind-transforming, culture-redeeming way. This means that we learn how a little bread and a little wine eaten together at the Lord’s table can bring inexhaustible joy and strength to our hearts and homes. This means that we learn to define wealth, success, happiness, recreation, rest, and friendship differently.
We are about to purchase a house and have a “permanent” home for the first time in many years. We are a part of a wonderful Church family. Our children are a part of a great Christian school that helps us in their discipleship. And none of this would be possible had God not richly blessed us through the generosity and sacrifice of other brothers and sisters.
We have had debts graciously paid by others that were incurred through financial sacrifices we had made. We have had friends unknowingly give us money at just the time a bill was due or an unexpected expense was incurred. We had a family generously pay our moving expenses when they were losing rather than gaining something by our move. We recently had a family help make it possible for us to purchase a home that would be good for our family when we were still probably a year away from being in a position to do so. My unexpected career moves have involved me in Christian schools in ways that provided for all six of them to eventually receive this kind of education.
I guess I am just full of gratitude today, first to our Father in heaven, and second to all of those friends in low places, where most of our life is lived. We have received a hundred fold in this life and when that is over, things are just getting started!