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Posts Tagged ‘Body of Christ’

This past week, I met up with an old friend for lunch. As we sat chatting (for over two hours!), we reminisced about our high school years together. At one stage, I shared how I had caught up with a mutual friend while in Queensland recently. I was book signing in the town where this mutual friend lives and she came to find me. Despite the forty-eight years that have elapsed since we were at school together, we recognised each other immediately—and what a joy it was to share our spiritual journeys right there in the middle of the bookstore!

At that same two hour lunch with my friend, I also updated her on another mutual friend I had seen recently. All four of us had been involved in a Christian group at our high school—at least in our final two years. After high school, our lives took different directions. One married a grazier and lived on remote properties, with little opportunity to meet with other Christians. But God watched over her and she would head over to a neighbouring property whenever the pastor from this family’s church came to visit. Another moved overseas with her husband and was reconnected with church via some Americans in Germany. After having one child, she then had triplets, but sadly her husband passed away when the triplets were quite young. Yet God kept his hand on this friend and today, she is a vital part of her local church. The final friend married a minister, as I did, and has served faithfully alongside him in country churches for many years. God has sustained her through times of ill health and challenge and enabled her to serve others with patience and grace.

Yes, God has indeed watched over us, throughout the twists and turns of our lives. As a result, here we are today, still loving and serving the Lord with all our hearts. Yet while God has been so faithful, there is another important aspect here too.  All three of my friends have hung in there through some very tough times. They have reached out to God and the Body of Christ and have continued to grow in their faith. They have chosen to keep following the Lord, despite discouragement from family members, despite deep grief and loss, despite loneliness and disappointment. They have chosen to love and serve others and to remain faithful to the end.

I thought of my three friends as I again read this week the parable of the sower from Luke 8. Through all these years, they did not allow the devil to take away God’s word from their hearts (v 12). They did not fall away, but let this word take root in their lives (v 13). And they were not ‘choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures’ (v 14). Instead they heard the word, retained it, then persevered—and bore wonderful fruit in their lives as a result (v 15).

It’s so true we are saved by grace and not works, but persevering is pretty important too, don’t you think? Surely, in the light of God’s amazing love and grace, this is what we are all called upon to do?

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I’ve been told I’m a pretty independent person.  I hate to ask for help, yet there have been times in my life when I’ve been so grateful that others saw my need and gathered around, willing to do what they could.

Many years ago when I was expecting our third child, neither set of grandparents was free to come and help out with the rest of the family.  I will never forget the amazing way all our friends in the Body of Christ rallied round, providing meals, ferrying our two older children to and from school and kindergarten, minding them until my husband was free to take them home.  Truly they were ‘God with skin on’ for us at that time.

Years later, I ended up in hospital for an unexpected operation, just prior to my husband’s sixtieth birthday party.  Invitations had already been sent out – what should I do?  I arrived home from hospital on the day of the party to find my friends from our church had everything in hand.  They rearranged our house and set out all the food, while I sat and watched.  Again, my friends showed me exactly what God is like.  Again, they were ‘God with skin on’.

Over the years too, God has provided people who strongly believed in me, who cheered me on when I studied for my Bachelor of Theology in my late forties and when I later went on to write my novels.  One such special mentor or ‘spiritual companion’, as she prefers to term it, rescued me so often from my confusion and discouragement that I call her my ‘lifesaver’ and dedicated my first novel ‘Heléna’ to her.  She was, and still is, ‘God with skin on’ for me.

We all need such people – even the strongest and most independent among us.  Recently I noticed in the bible how even the great apostle Paul admitted to that.  In one breath, in Philippians 4:13, he maintains the following:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Yet in the very next breath, he tells his Philippian friends and supporters how good it was of them to share in his ‘troubles’ and reminds them how they sent him aid ‘again and again when I was in need (v 16).

So whoever you are, may you find ‘God with skin on’ beside you too, when you need help. Yes, God is always there anyway and will never leave us, but it helps so much to see God’s love ‘fleshed out’ before our eyes too, don’t you agree?

And perhaps you – or I – need to be ‘God with skin on’ for someone even today.  What do you think?

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