(June 28, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…
Ever thought of your life as a bottle with an important life message landed in strange territory? Hmm? Intriguing… but firstly some intro comments –
Been wondering over the past few months of lockdown how others are going? Thoughtful friends, both church and non-churchgoers, have caringly phoned/SMSed/Skyped/emailed us enquiring about us… and we’ve been doing likewise.
Seems we’ve all found things to do, ensuring we aren’t bored. One matter that keeps coming up in conversations is: ‘When will we get back to normalcy?’
Reality: No More ‘Normalcy’
We won’t – not normalcy as we used to know (if we can refer to pre-lockdown times as ‘normal’!). Life has changed; the world is in a bigger mess than ever: disrespect, crime and hooliganism are rampant… consumer-wise and business-wise it’s a whole new ballgame ‘out there.’
- People are enjoying working from home, saving travel time and parking expenses and companies save high rental expenses. ‘Going to the office’ is almost a thing of the past.
- Families have grown closer together… jigsaw puzzles and games became so popular once more, as did creative home adventures such as ‘living room camping out.’
- Washing of hands became a priority more than ever. Playing at home is again an in-thing. Mothers discovered tutoring skills as they’ve home-educated their children.
- Business-oriented husbands no longer caught up in the busy lifestyle are endeared by their wife for being at home more and sharing the house keeping load.
- With churches closed, YouTube services and Zoom Bible studies have become popular, especially with Bible-based encouraging messages and engaging presentations.
- In many cases there’s been more phoning/emailing around than before to see how friends and family are… especially such calls from one’s local church and caring organisations such as our local RSL club.
- We think of our bro-in-law, Ken Gardner (Life4Kids ministry) who, as long as it’s warm delights to have outdoor coffee breaks and greet neighbours and strangers walking by. Ken is a joie-de-vivre chatterer and takes every opportunity to share Jesus with folk!
- Likewise we too enjoyed sitting out front and greeting folk. As we’re can’t shake hands, even to thank someone for work done, we’ve used the Asian gesture of bowing slightly with hands pressed together, fingers pointing upwards… saying, ‘God bless you’ or simply, ‘Blessings.’
Return to ‘Love thy Neighbour’ Examples
So many, even Ozzies, ‘knew’ we were indicating a blessing even before we said so. One passer-by stopped to observe us and when we asked, ‘Do you want a blessing too?’ she promptly responded, ‘Oh, yes, please.’
In this time of uncertainties and challenges, we’ve found caring, good neighbourly attitudes are invaluable to so many people… a meaningful ‘Thank you’ with a smile and a blessing goes a long way!
And we’ve been blessed in turn – for example, ‘round the corner’ granddaughter Bonnie-Jane willingly keeps calling re groceries needs.
Our wonderful next door neighbour Elke insists on bringing our emptied bin(s) back up our driveway. We keep thanking her, saying ‘You don’t have to.’ Elke’s response the other day? ‘I can pop your bins out on Sunday night too… no trouble at all.’ How about that?
Another neighbourly example is Hayley… our printer wouldn’t print urgent, important documentation in respect of the next incident and this young lady promptly came to the rescue. (Incidentally Hayley, one of our church’s worship team leaders, has her dream in God… and she’s going for it!).
And… good friend Charles (DD Computerology) who assisted with technical challenges and the link below.
The good news in this time of worldwide troubles is that there’s been a renewal of gospel-based ‘Love thy neighbour’ demonstrations – such as the many responding to this recent front-page story…
An official Petition (Link: stop-the-imminent-deportation-of-a-cancer-survivor-and-her-family) calling to insure this family’s future in Australia is being signed by more and more caring locals (closing on 7500 as we (post), not necessarily all churchgoers, and this hard-working Christian family (pictured left) is wrapped in God’s care, assured that he’s with them. (We were honoured and blessed to be able to work behind the scenes, encouraging the precious family, the concerned employers and diligent lawyer involved). And more good news is out there for this precious family, to be discovered and be thankful for…
Scripture Encourages Good Neighbour Actions
Many people have been discovering new things, even being taken into adventures and challenges we never imaged before – and for Holy Spirit-filled and led Christians, discovering we do have a meaningful future and bigger destiny than perhaps we had ever dreamed about.
God’s word encourages Christians to be good neighbours: trustworthy, caring, inclusive, generous, doing good not harm – check out Proverbs 14:21; Matthew 7:12, 22:37-40; John 15:12; Romans 13:8-10; Ephesians 4:25, 29; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and 1 John 4:20-21.
- Proverbs 14:21 Message is a good example of ‘what goes around comes around’ – ‘It’s criminal to ignore a neighbour in need, but compassion for the poor – what a blessing!’
- Note: It’s so important that we know that by God’s grace we can handle whatever comes our way… because we are people of purpose.
- Ephesians 2:10NLT declares, ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’
Now we weren’t whipped up into heaven the moment we ‘got saved’… we’re here on earth as Christ’s witnesses, to be like him, to love our neighbour – (red and yellow, black and white as Dr Jim writes about this month), to demonstrate God’s love. And so our next subheading…
Let’s pick up on that point about dreaming as never before – as in thinking big but humbly in God… but introduce some thoughts by sharing a little more about ourselves during lockdown.
We’ve continued ‘being real, being ourselves’… encouraging others whenever opportunity opened the door (or rather the phone or email!) by mentoring, advising, witnessing Jesus or explaining scriptures, reassuring or whatever the scenario presented. All in an endeavour to inspire Christians to know that they have a God-ordained purpose in life.
In relaxing, being old-movie fans, we dug out great oldies and enjoyed being entranced with some ‘golden-oldens.’ This means watching many famous actors and actresses that young people today wouldn’t know – such as the China mission-based 1955 drama The Left Hand of God (with Humphrey Bogart, assuming a missing priest’s identity and meaningfully caring for local Chinese Christians).
The female star in that movie was Gene Tierney, best known for her major role in the 1944 film noir classic Laura.
We came across this interesting quote by the talented Miss Tierney…
What’s Your ‘Bottle’ Message?
Image for a moment applying that quote to your life; that we’re bottles with a message that God has cast into this turbulent sea of the most disturbing time in history, carried by fierce winds and tides of uncertainity and challenge to be washed up on beaches that we never thought about or even knew existed, into situations that we never expected, never thought we’d be meeting, let alone be a good Samaritan to.
Decades ago the in-message of the moment was Jesus is the Answer! Along with other young people back then we proudly wore such badges. Then some clever joker asked, ‘If Jesus is the answer, what’s the question?’ Stunned, we suddenly realised we hadn’t thought of that! A muttered reply was the traditional ‘Well, the world’s in so much trouble.’
Hey… today we live in a unprecedented time when the whole world really is in dire straits. Every news hour seems to be announcing more bad news… more deaths, spreading virus, increased crime, damaged vehicles, shops and homes, rebellion, police disrespected… the list goes on. The reality is that we’re in a war, a virus war and we need to help where we can – and share the good news of the gospel of Christ and God’s love!
Cut to the chase – we do have the answer! It’s still Jesus, the one who was crucified on Calvary’s cross so he’d become the Saviour of the world because of God’s grace and love for his creation (John 3:16-17). People need to discover (or turn back to) God!
2 Chronicles 7:14 is such an important scripture for this day, one that comes from the heart of God – ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
Needed today: Good Samaritans
Year ago we landed in Germany at midnight to be driven through pitch darkness to the town where we’d be ministering. Everything around was new to us… the associate pastor driving shared the difficulties the great church was facing from council and others. In the darkness Maureen sensed death all around but the Lord reminding her of the above scripture and next morning humbly shared it with the lead pastor, urging him to call his people to prayer.
He said nothing, then arose and left us. But on Sunday he shared Maureen’s thoughts and called the people to humbly gather for prayer,seeking God’s face. It was the beginning of a breakthrough… we had learned the name of his town meant Death – but now new life flowed in like a river! It was as if Maureen had been a bottle with a message washed up on an (to us) unknown beach.
That scripture is the message every Christian (that ‘bottle’) carries within our heart – in a time when, sadly, not many Christians are considering missionaries overseas, we can be good neighbour missionaries at home, good Samaritans with good news about a great, loving God who longs for the world to turn to him.
This may mean going out of our way to help someone, or simply just considering the needs of others. A good friend SMSed: ‘This morning I prayed for others, not myself and my needs, that the Lord would bless them. It was such a beautiful time realising that the Lord’s blessing on people contains everything they could possibly need – and more.’
- May we not be discarded bottles lying unopened on whatever shoreline our Saviour lands us on!
- May we be ‘the fifth gospel’ – the one according to you, one that some people will only ever read.
- May our neighbourly good Samaritan actions comfort others that are distressed, troubled, desperate, frightened, ill, feeling without hope in this dark days!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links are firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook (Scripture/other emphases in this Onliner ours. Appreciated images/pics: various general sources). Links: Carol Round’s Trouble-Will-Come-But-Take-Heart / George Forbes’ called-to-communicate / Jim McClure’s red-and-yellow-black-and-white