A picture that makes my heart smile, a thought that will raise your eyebrow, and a challenge that will, well, challenge you

This picture makes my heart smile.  On the left is Gita Owens, one of the members of the church I pastored in Middleboro, Massachusetts.  On the right is Keith and Faye Morauske, a couple from the church I served in Richmond, Virginia.  Gita is a member of the new church I am working for in Florida, and Keith and Faye were visiting that same church last week while they were on vacation.

What’s beautiful about this picture is that rarely do we enjoy the privilege of being with people from multiple chapters of our life at the same time.  In this picture are people whose ancestors are from Germany, Hungary, England, and the Netherlands.  And yet we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  More than that, we partnered together to live out our love for God and people (in two different states and in two different decades).

Here’s the thought that should raise your eyebrow.  God, in His sovereignty, sees pictures like this all the time.   He sees the people we’ve known, the people we know, and the people we are yet to know, and can right now see the beautiful ways those people are all connected.  Here’s two examples.

Eyebrow-Raiser #1: 10 years ago Gita taught me to trust God and to believe God when I prayed.  I have prayed with and for Keith and Faye numerous times over the past 6 years. Only God knows how Gita prepared me to pray for the Morauskes.

Eyebrow raiser #2: Keith and Faye, and hundreds of other people from Gayton Baptist Church sent our family off with prayers and gifts so that we could start a church in South Florida.  As we are starting Mosaix Church, I am helping strengthen the worship ministry of Gita’s church, Grace Fellowship.  Much of what I am able to contribute is based on my years of experience leading people like Keith and Faye to worship the Lord at Gayton Baptist Church.

Now, if you’re still reading (is anyone still reading?), let me challenge you.

How much of your life is influenced by the unity you have with people who have gone before you?

We may not be able to predict the people we are going to meet in the future, but we do know hundreds of people from our past.  And, perhaps even more importantly, we can learn about how people followed God in the decades and centuries before ours.  Why does that matter? Because to God, we are all part of one big, happy, family.  People have already made all the same mistakes we have, people have already fought the same spiritual battles we have, they’ve studied the same Bible, and worshipped the same God.

My best friend’s church does a great job each week remembering people who loved Jesus a long time ago.  They are smart to do so because if they have an open mind and heart they will learn how to love Jesus better today through these precious spiritual ancestors.

In the words of a great Baptist hymn (the “she” in the first line refers to the present-day church):

Yet she on earth hath union
with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

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