OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #259 Hey Goody Goody
I’m back form the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. I attended classes on devotional writing, voice, and digital media, and learned a lot about the business side of writing. We had the chance to meet with agents, editors and publishers, and while this was nerve-wracking, it was also encouraging.
Last week Jan and I celebrated 21 years of marriage. Always hard to believe it has been this long. One day at a time really adds up. We went out to eat and went to the musical “King and I” put on by a local high school.
Blessings for your week.
“Hey Goody Goody - what wrong?”
We were in library class at Athena Intermediate School and things weren’t going well for the teacher. Some of my classmates were less than kind and actively resisted her attempts to gain control. More than once that semester she steamed off to bring back the principal.
Things weren’t going so well for me, either. Not everyone was going along with the crowd, but it seemed that way and I felt the pressure to join in as they dropped books behind her back, mocked her, and ignored her instructions. “Goody Goody” was their name for those who didn’t help. I didn’t like the attention and it stung like a slap in the face. There was a veiled threat of “join us or you’re the next target.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I became a Christian the summer before and I was sure that my life was going to get better. Rather than improve, however, it seemed that some things actually got worse. It didn’t seem fair that being a Christian put me in a tight spot between the crowd and God.
I obviously survived this crisis of faith since I am writing about it now, but it was tough and I can remember the sights, sounds, and even smells of that library experience like it was yesterday. For me it has come to represent how being a Christian can actually make some things about life harder, not easier.
When Barnabas and Paul began to travel to tell people about Jesus, they experienced some tough things. Time and again after Acts 13, we read that they went to a new place, spoke boldly, some people responded by following Jesus, and others responded by trying to kill them, literally. We have to think that, after a while, they began to wonder - isn’t there an easier way? Wouldn’t it just be easier to give up?
But this is not what we see. After one early incident where Paul and Barnabas were forcefully expelled from the region, they continued on their way and “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52*) This seems to be the way they reacted each time. Rather than discourage them, their troubles empowered them to go on.
There is promise in this for us. Even though it would be easier sometimes just to go along with what others are doing, there is a joy that only comes from obedience. There is a sense of God’s presence that only comes when we stand against the test. Going along with the boss’s crooked scheme may save a job, but it will not bring joy. Gossiping in the lunchroom makes us feel like we fit in, but won’t bring peace. Standing up for what is right may not win us friends, but God blesses with joy and the Holy Spirit.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published May 25, 2011. *Scripture taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email email@example.com. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/.