Activated - - CONTENTS - By Chris Mizrany Chris Mizrany is a mis­sion­ary, pho­tog­ra­pher, and web de­signer with Help­ing Hand in Cape Town, South Africa. ■

Over the years, my back­pack has taken a lot of abuse. I’ve taken it out in the blaz­ing sun and in the pour­ing rain, around my neigh­bor­hood and on over­seas trips. It’s gone with me to hu­man­i­tar­ian projects and on hol­i­days. In fact, al­most ev­ery­where I’ve gone, so has my bag.

Still, I was caught off guard when my bag started to have trou­ble zip­ping up—ei­ther the mech­a­nism would get stuck or the zip­per would pop open be­hind it again, leav­ing me frus­trated and un­able to use the bag prop­erly. But I struggled on, car­ry­ing the bag half-closed, or even hold­ing it in one hand while squeez­ing the halves to­gether to keep its con­tents from fall­ing. The rest of the bag was in great shape, and I didn’t see why this one prob­lem should stop me from us­ing it.

One day, though, it was just too much, and I re­acted an­grily as an at­tempt to pick up my bag re­sulted in items spilling all over the floor. “Why don’t you take that thing in for re­pair?” my wife sug­gested. It only took me a cou­ple of sec­onds to re­al­ize that she was right, so off to the shop I went.

Be­fore long, the bag was re­paired, and bet­ter than ever! I’m con­tin­u­ing to use it con­stantly, and ev­ery­thing works per­fectly. I feel pretty fool­ish for hav­ing waited so long for such a sim­ple fix.

This caused me to re­flect on my life, which is filled with sit­u­a­tions— good, bad, easy, ter­ri­ble—that all take a toll. Even­tu­ally, my own strength al­ways fails. My run­ning back and forth be­tween hor­ri­bles and hap­pys wears me down. I come apart and can’t func­tion prop­erly.

Yet I of­ten refuse to ac­knowl­edge my need for help, so I try to push aside the one prob­lem that is sti­fling my spirit. I strug­gle on in a state of halfs—half pro­duc­tive, half joy­ful, half ful­filled—when my soul could be en­tirely re­newed. Je­sus of­fered full re­pair when He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy bur­dens, and I will give you rest. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will pro­duce lots of fruit.”1

So now I re­mem­ber that wher­ever I go and in what­ever sit­u­a­tions I find my­self, Je­sus is with me. His strength bears any weight, and His mer­cies are con­stantly new. If I keep Him at the2 cen­ter of my ex­is­tence, then no mat­ter what this life throws at me, He’ll never fail to hold me to­gether.

1. Matthew 11:28 NLT; John 15:5 CEV

2. See Lamen­ta­tions 3:22–23; Philip­pi­ans 4:13.

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