How many God 52 challenges is it possible to fail due to falling asleep? It feels like I’m trying to set a record. There was the week of prayer (fell asleep), last week’s silent challenge (almost fell asleep), and the fasting challenge (fell asleep, sleepwalked to the kitchen, ate a pie). Ok, the last one isn’t true, but thus far, sleep has been my main obstacle to overcome. Hopefully you’re all doing better than me.
Anyway, on to week nine. Here’s the thing about these challenges – whenever I sit down to write them, it feels like God is challenging me on that theme just at that moment. Let me explain using this week as an example. #TeamGod52 (Martin and I) decided this week’s challenge should be along the lines of peacemaking. I got in from work on Monday, had a couple of bits to sort out and then was going to write this challenge. One of the things to sort out involved my online banking. I logged in and BAM, some scallywag (not the word that initially sprung to mind) had stolen some money from me and used it to pay for stuff I’ve no knowledge of using my bank details.
Now I’ve spent the majority of my evening on the phone to my bank, cancelling cards and trying to get some money back. Evening – ruined, wallet – empty, mood – annoyed. My bitterness and resentment levels are at an all time high. I’m pretty mad at this nameless person.
And I need to write about forgiveness. I am in no mood to forgive let alone write about it. Now I’m annoyed at this person AND God. So, without further ado:
9: Go out of your way to bring peace to a situation.
This could be any situation, but ideally one that involves you. That issue that’s been hanging over a relationship? Deal with it. That person you haven’t forgiven? Forgive them. That storm that’s brewing? Nip it in the bud.
Forgiveness could not be more central to our walk with Jesus.
A good friend of mine went through something fairly traumatic a few years ago, the kind of thing that has a deep, nasty impact on a person. It dawned on them that they hadn’t forgiven that person. They wanted to, but it was a process, and needed time and space. They decided that while they couldn’t forgive that person (and they were working on it), they wouldn’t take communion.
That decision blew me away. At first I questioned it, but then I thought about it and it made sense. Communion is this grand act where we remember God’s forgiveness for us, where we see his restoration; but to go to that table holding a grudge undermines it. God calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven. When we harbor bitterness and resentment we can fall out of sync with God’s salvation plan. We lose the majesty of the freedom the cross offers us – we’re only seeing half the story.
That act of humbly turning down communion was a beautiful picture of what embracing God’s salvation means. And once that person had reached a point of forgiveness they started taking communion again.
So get out there and be peacemakers. Bring restoration to relationships and light into dark spaces.
Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’, or to paraphrase it for this week: ‘Blessed are the God52-ers’