Small Blessings

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."

~John 1:16

We were looking forward to getting back to a fairly routine Sunday schedule.  After church (we watched it instead of going of course), we got in the car and went to Champaign.  Finally, Illinois is beginning to loosen some of the COVID restrictions.  The restaurants are loosening up some, and our mall and local stores opened up on Friday--Valerie and Katie were anxious to go have a look and visit their favorite stores.  We expected a nice day out!

We went through the drive thru at one of our favorite Sunday lunch spots, then parked and made use of their outside tables.  It was a beautiful day to eat outside!  Then we went to the mall.  There weren't many stores open, but enough to satisfy our need to be outside the house for awhile.  Valerie and Katie split off and hit all their favorite places--Old Navy, Kohl's, etc.  I hit my favorite place at the mall--Field & Stream. My bookstore, Barnes & Noble, isn't open yet, and I'm anxiously awaiting that day, but fishing poles and tackle will do in a pinch.  We didn't buy very much--it was more about getting out and seeing what was going on in the community

It was the closest thing we've had to a normal Sunday in 2 1/2 months.  Little did we know it was about to become a day none of us would forget any time soon. 

Not long after we got home we heard that that riots and looting were taking place at the mall we'd just left.  Windows were being smashed, and merchandise was being stolen--the videos we were seeing were astounding.  I found a live video being shot on social media in front of the Old Navy we'd just walked out of less than an hour before.  It was a scene of absolute chaos.

But as we were watching, a tremendous feeling of gratitude and relief swept over my wife and I.  We've been married for more than twenty years, and I knew exactly what she was thinking when she looked at me, because I was thinking and feeling the same thing.  There are times in your life when you feel God's presence steering you and guiding you, and we both felt God's grace on us last Sunday.

I've lived in this community my entire life.  I never thought I'd see violent protests here.  I never dreamed vandalism and looting could ever occur here either.  I never thought I'd see police in riot gear using flash-bang grenades and tear gas on the streets of my community, but that's what we saw.  I don't know what the solutions to these problems are, but I believe if we're going to solve these problems, it must involve God.  We've got to start living our lives in the way God intended.  We have to show love for each other.  We have to show patience and kindness to one another.  We have to have empathy for other people.  We have to understand the difference between right and wrong.

More and more people are beginning to realize that.  Many who have strayed away for the church have begun to realize over the last few months just how much they need Christ in their lives.  More and more people are beginning to search for that one thing that's missing in their lives--that connection to what is good, and kind, and loving and holy.  This is the time that Christians need to start spreading that message of hope, in a world that has lost its way.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 
~Matthew 28:19-20