My favorite grocery bagger was bagging my groceries the other day. I asked him, “Andy, how are you today?” I sensed that something wasn’t right. When Andy’s having a bad day he makes these little noises in his throat. Andy stuttered, “I just wish I could go to a cabin somewheres with my dogs, you know what I mean?” Then he made a rolling sign with his hands and I replied, “Yes, I know what you mean. There’s so much going on right now.” Then Andy started singing an old hymn as he bagged my groceries. Andy is a Christian and we have had a few good talks in the past when we walk out to my car. That day we didn’t just talk, but we did some singin’. Together we walked to my car singing our way through the parking lot, not caring who heard that hymn. After he had loaded my groceries into the car I said, “I know things are tough, but we’ve got to uplift each other through all of this mess. We’ve got to help each other. It’s going to be okay no matter what.” Andy gave me a little smile and replied, “Yes, I know.”
How many times recently have y’all felt just exhausted from it all and wanted to escape? I’m going to say that at least once a week I have a day like Andy was having. Yes, I’m a Christian, but some days are still difficult. It’s hard for me to watch or to read about what is going on right now in our country, in our world. There are some days where I do want to hide in a cabin in the woods, but that’s not what God wants from me. Christians have been hiding out for way too long, blending right in with society. We aren’t supposed to blend in.What we are supposed to be is different and unusual. We are supposed to take advantage during times like these. This is a time to not only uplift our Christian brothers and sisters, but to witness to those who are lost and hurting. This is a time to tell others about the hope we have even during difficult times. The hope that we have in Jesus.
This morning I go on my walk through our very woodsy neighborhood. It’s been a few days since my conversation with Andy, and he’s on my mind. Down one cul-de-sac I pass three huge tree trunks lying on their sides along a slope where there is no house. The three trees were most probably pushed over by a storm, maybe the tornado that cut through this area years ago. The tops of the trees would have extended over the street when they fell. Those tops were removed, leaving the trunks to lie there. Two of the trunks have rotting stumps, there’s not much left to them at all. The third trunk has an uprooted stump with roots entwined in a thick ball of clay. I look and see new life emerging from that clay, a new tree from the roots of the old one. That tiny new tree is a reminder of what Jesus has done for me. My old life was uprooted and a new life of hope has replaced it. A new life is why I need not be discouraged, why my friend Andy doesn’t need to be. A new life is why I should not want to seek a hideout in the woods. A new life is why I should desire that everyone has what Christ has given me, renewal and hope. As Christians we need to ask ourselves, do we want to see more of the rot, or do we want to see new lives emerge from this storm we are in? As a Christian I say, “Put your focus on the One we are rooted in. It’s time to get to work!”
And so I solemnly urge you before God and before Christ Jesus—who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom to preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not. Correct and rebuke your people when they need it, encourage them to do right, and all the time be feeding them patiently with God’s Word.
— 2 Timothy 4:1-2