As I reflect back over the last year, I am amazed at the degree of recovery God has brought to both our church and to our personal lives.
When 2012 closed, my mom was in the a nursing home recovering from knee replacement surgery, our grandson Ethan was staying with us because of troubles back in Michigan with his mom, my sister had just passed away (Nov.9th) and I was beat up from an exhausting and difficult mission trip to India. Our church and community were struggling to recover our balance from super storm Sandy (Oct. 29). We were struggling with our attendance and finances. One of our church families had struggled through a life threatening illness during much of 2012. With my mom things actually got worse before they got better. She needed to have a second major surgery for a hernia in Feb. of 2013. Mom needed to come and stay with us in March for 3 weeks so that we could care for her.
But God started to bring recovery into our home and into the church as well. To the church God brought a number of new families. Giving was increased to the point where we actually finished the year ahead of our budget. In our family Ashley (our youngest daughter) graduated from college on May 10th. Our whole family was together for the celebration. On May 13th we flew to Hawaii for a week of much needed vacation.
During our Vacation Bible School in July we saw God move and work. I had the privilege of baptizing my grandson Ethan in July before our VBS. The previous year during VBS he had prayed to receive Christ as his personal Savior. I had the privilege of golfing in a tournament with several men from our church and we generated over $1100 for the Wounded Warrior Project, another recovery movement that we could be part of. Our Taste of the World day was our most significant outreach event to date. It was a wonderful day of Christian fellowship and ministry. New friendships were developed and contacts made.
I shouldn’t be surprised by God’s ability to bring recovery and restoration. Throughout the pages of Scripture, we see God as a God of reconciliation and recovery. Think of some of the examples. Moses ran away and hid in the desert for 40 years before God restored him in order to lead Israel out of the Egypt. Jonah ran as fast as he could away from God’s call to go to Nineveh and preach judgment. God restored Jonah who was ultimately used to bring profound revival to Nineveh despite his own bad attitude. Saul of Tarsus was a persecutor of the church before Jesus Christ invaded his life and transformed him into Paul the apostle, God’s chosen messenger to the Gentile nations. Peter denied he even knew Christ 3 times yet Jesus restored him to become a powerful leader in the earlier church. John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas on the mission field yet at the end of Paul’s life in the last letter he wrote we read these words, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (4:11b NIV). John Mark would end up writing the gospel of Mark. Take some time this week to reflect on God’s restoration and recovery in your life over the last year. Maybe you’ve gone through a difficult year or are going through a difficult time right now. Remember and reflect on the fact that God is in the process. If you know Christ as your Savior remember Paul’s words to the Romans when he writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (8:28 NIV). If you don’t know Christ, know that He is the God of reconciliation and recovery and you can come to Him and He will begin the restoration and recovery process in your life.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo