The Word Among Us

September 2023 Issue

Compelled by God’s Love

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Compelled by God’s Love: Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to September and the start of a new school year! If you have school-aged children or grandchildren, you might hear them say, “I had a really fun summer, but now I have to go to school!” Or on a Sunday evening, they might say, in a panicked voice, “I have to get my homework done!” In both cases, they are feeling compelled to do something they don’t want to do.

How different this is from the kind of “compulsion” that Jesus felt during his time on earth! When he told Mary and Joseph, “I must be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49), he wasn’t speaking about something he was being forced to do. He wanted to be there in the Temple! He wanted to do the work his Father gave him to do!

This month we want to look at Jesus’ deep longing to do his Father’s will. We know that Jesus was 100 percent free, and yet he felt that he needed to follow whatever path his Father had laid out for him. Every day he loved people in the way that God had called him to love them. Every day he served and cared for them with the same compassion that his Father had for them. Jesus was always giving of himself, right up to the moment he gave his life for us on the cross. Everything he did reflected these words: “I must be about my Father’s business.”

God has a calling for your life, just as he had for Jesus, and only you can fulfill that calling. Whether he calls you to a relatively “hidden” or a “front and center” role in the world, what you do matters to him. What you do helps build his kingdom on earth. I pray this month that we all have this experience of being compelled—in a fulfilling way—to accomplish whatever he is asking of us. May we all proclaim, “I must be about my Father’s business!”

Some Personal News. A few months ago, I shared that my son, Peter, was ill with stage four cancer. My wife, Jeannie, and I are so grateful for everyone who prayed for us and wrote encouraging letters to us. Now, after his four-and-a-half-year struggle, Pete has gone to the Lord. During his final months with us, Peter and I talked every week about the beauty of heaven, where “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Revelation 21:4). And I could tell from our conversations that he was ready to go meet the Lord!

Peter often told us not to pretend he was a saint. “No problem, Pete,” we’d reply. “We’ll make sure that people know you aren’t!” But with all his imperfections, Peter was at peace. So while Jeannie and I are truly grieving, we trust in the mercy of the Lord. We are grateful that Peter no longer has to suffer. And by God’s grace, we are confident that we will be reunited with him when we finish running the race.

Let us all trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy, even in the midst of our trials!

Jeff Smith

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