charity screenedLast year, WM President Sherry Bartlett’s timeline connected us with the past through our biblical roots and our history. The “journey” continues into the future. Let’s concentrate this year on the connections we can make now to strengthen our journey into this world’s unknown future and into the known future of eternity.

In His wisdom, God (who needed nothing because He is complete in himself), connected as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, making man for His own glory. Before the foun- dation of the world, He predestined in love those who would be con- nected to Him. He put the first of His human creations in a garden, where He connected with them by nurturing a relationship. Their fall was not a surprise. Indeed, it was part of the plan, because the Son at the climax of history would come to earth to reconnect those chosen people to God, and the Holy Spir- it would teach those people about that reconnection and about their connection to each other.

But because of the fall, while our connection as believers with God is perfect through the Son, our connections with people are not.

Connecting is really another way of saying “love.” If we are will- ing to love, then we are willing to connect.

Colossians 2:1-3, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Paul points out:

1. A reference to knitting. For each one of our grandchildren, I have knitted what I call a “napghan.” The current one is for grand

No. 10, Leo Emmanuel. The colors of the napghan are green and blue on a white background – the colors of the seal of Emmanuel College, where his family serves as mission- aries. Taken separately, unconnect- ed, the skeins are nothing but color and yarn. Connected by knitting, they become something beautiful.

2. Paul says that connecting is a struggle. He struggled directly for the people God had given him in Colossae and Laodicea, but he also struggled for us; for future genera- tions. One of those struggles we can have is illustrated by boxes.

We build a box around ourselves – our comfort zone. Our boxes are based on how we were raised; our ethnicity; what we have decided is correct in behavior, dress, speech patterns; generally, what we are comfortable with. But we also put other people in boxes. We meet

them and then we sort them by the same criteria. We are comfortable with them if we can assign them to a box we understand – one we can manage. God wants us to open our boxes and connect with others to make a beautiful picture that re- flects His love.

3. Most importantly, we are given the reason to connect – to love, in verse 2 & 3. Paul struggled to con- nect with the people so he could help them understand God’s mys- tery, the gospel. We need to struggle to escape from the boxes, from the comfort zones we put ourselves in. We need to struggle not to put peo- ple in boxes so that we can “man- age” them. We need to love enough to want to knit together with others so we can encourage them and help them understand God’s mystery, the gospel.

So I hope this will be a year of connections. Are you going to be

stuck in the box with others waiting outside because they don’t fit? Or are you going to tip your box over and spill out to join with others to make a beautiful picture?

I move that we get out of our boxes, use our imaginations, and connect with others in love for our sakes, for their sakes, for future generations, and for His glory. May He bless our efforts.?