The quiet despair within me was only temporarily distracted by the next grand interior decoration project or the next big vacation.
faith during Lent. I did not know much about Lent or the Christian faith, but the small group of people who intrigued me would be there and, as they had been so kind and welcoming to us, Elena and I thought that we would go and encourage them.
Unbelievably, the Lent course had the same effect upon me as the strange rainbow hymn. When it came to an end, we learned that a weekly Bible study group was starting and I heard myself volunteer to host the group at our big house. Not only was my wife mad at me for that surprise offer, but I had to go out and buy a Bible. Soon I found that I was counting the days until the next Bible study group. Sometimes I even read ahead. One morning I said to Elena, “If Jesus is real and if he is who he says he is, that really does change everything.”
I can’t quite tell you when, but sometime later, the aching inside me stopped. Suddenly, there was a new love, a new purpose and a peace in God’s mercy over me. Suddenly, my life did not feel like such a waste. Very simply, the love of God had come searching for me in the goodness of a community of his people. Through their patient love, I discovered that Jesus knew my name, offered me scandalous grace and unfathomable love, and had a plan for my life.
Two thousand years ago, out in the fresh air, vast crowds pushed in around Jesus to hear him teach what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” The account in chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew doesn’t note anyone special in the throng of hopeless, spiritually hungry people. Yet Jesus looked out upon them and saw something that nobody else had seen. He told them, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
He was looking at his church. He still feels exactly the same way. That small group of friends taught me that together, in God, we can change our world — within us and around us. We can beat back the darkness and be the light. Each one of us has something vital, something precious to contribute. Jesus’ resurrection let loose a revolution — an uprising of hope so strong that for 2,000 years, people have understood that however tragic their circumstances, however appalling their transgressions, however bleak the immediate outlook, however beleaguered the church, the love and mercy of Jesus cannot be overcome.