When Things Seem Unfinished
I have several pet peeves. Near the top of my list is smacking and slurping. Everyone in my family knows that’s a sound I really can’t tolerate. I’m not sure where that comes from, but it’s always been a pet peeve of mine. Another weird one is that I hate it when our back door is locked. Not the door that goes into our backyard but the one in our garage. Every time I come home and try to open the door only to find it locked I feel an immediate frustration. Granted, it goes away very quickly. It’s not like I yell and scream when this happens, but it does create a sense of frustration. Probably because I’m typically carrying things and have my hands full and have to rearrange everything to get to my keys in my pocket. It’s random, I know, but all pet peeves are on some level. The one pet peeve that I feel is less random than the others is that I really don’t like starting things and not finishing them. If it’s a household chore, a project at work or a movie on a Friday night, I typically like to finish what I’ve started.
It’s this last pet peeve that I’ve been reflecting on recently. I would imagine I’m not alone in this one and others of you probably share in the frustration of seeing things unfinished. What often makes this pet peeve the most difficult to manage is when so many of those unfinished tasks are out of our control. At some point, we have to recognize that we don’t always get to determine the time and place that something is brought to completion. In those moments, it takes faith.
This past week we’ve been hosting a backyard bible club in our home for several of the neighborhood kids. As a church, we had to amend our approach to VBS this year as a result of the pandemic. We opted for smaller groups to be hosted outside at various people’s homes. I must say, that while I love the typical approach to VBS this year has opened the door to something really special. I have loved teaching a smaller group of kids in our immediate neighborhood. It’s been very powerful and meaningful. I hope and trust we are able to emulate this model again in the future with even more families participating next time. The theme verse for this week speaks directly to the source of frustration that may experience when we question if something is going unfinished.
Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). What a powerful promise. I think about all these kids that we’ve seen over the last week. Some of them are regularly exposed to the gospel. Others not quite as much. Several of these kids have faced a variety of challenges and obstacles in their lives already at such a young age. You look out and you see a group of 4-10 year olds and you can’t help but wonder about their future. But as we had a chance to gather them together and share the gospel with them, it became increasingly apparent that God had started a good work in each and every one of them. A good work that is born out of the seed of the gospel. A good work that gives each of those children hope and meaning and purpose for their lives. I realize that I personally don’t get to stick around to see how it will be carried out and as a result, in that sense, it is unfinished. But one thing I can be sure of is that He who began that work, will indeed carry it on to completion.
I think that’s a reminder for each of us. We’ve seen a number of good works emerge in the midst of this pandemic. Whether it’s the backyard Bible clubs, food distribution, tutoring for students, the formation of new D groups and people being baptized and coming to Christ. There is no doubt that God has used this pandemic to start many good works. As we look forward, we may wonder how it will all unfold and what the future may bring. The concerns and anxieties about tomorrow will always be present and will always be strong. But they will always pale in comparison to the strength we have in the promises of God. So, may we all be encouraged that wherever you are today, you can rest assured that God has started a good work in you and through you. He does not grow tired, He does not grow weary, He will not let it go unfinished. Rather, He will carry it through towards completion, until the day of Christ Jesus. May we rest comfortably in that promise today. - Jerimiah Smith, Pastor