My third time through

Sometimes it can feel like faith is hard, complex, too much. And we’re not enough. Just like Paul admits in his letter to the Corinthians, we too are aware of our “weakness, fear, and trembling,” of how much we need God. Jen Buck reminds us in this morning’s Fruit of the Vine that this is why God offers us a person, Jesus Christ, instead of principles: “Everything in our lives comes down to Jesus Christ. Many of us find seasons when we come to the end of ourselves – the end of our own human wisdom – and we must depend on the mystery of the power of God working in us.” Jesus makes God’s work visible, tangible, real.

Every once in a while, I read ahead in Fruit of the Vine, curious about where a certain writer might be headed or maybe looking for a message that’s a better fit for my condition than the one assigned. So this is my third reading of Jen’s reflection. On Saturday morning before sitting down with the yearly meeting superintendents of Evangelical Friends Church – North America, these words from Jen were a reminder that “God’s true wisdom comes through our human selves ... despite our fears.” Then on Sunday night after meetings and email exchanges with nearly a dozen writers, this same devotional reflection helped me, in my fatigue, to remember that “God is alive and at work.”

At the end of my time with superintendents on Saturday, we had an agreement that reduces EFC-NA support to Barclay Press next year by 20 percent (a little more than 5 percent of our total budget). At the same time, we have permission to make up those lost funds through contract work supporting the mission, vision, and work of Evangelical Friends Mission and EFC-NA. I don’t know what that means. At least not yet. But Jen’s reminder that I can trust in “God's true wisdom” is what I’m taking to heart.

At the end of my time with writers, we had made significant progress on a new book of poetry, two academic works, two memoirs, and a history. I also picked up and edited short essays from three new contributors, one that I met by accident while checking messages on my computer at a coffee shop Sunday morning. “God is alive and at work.”

Barclay Press is facing difficult decisions, as is each of our yearly meetings. I am convinced that these difficult decisions also present us with powerful opportunities for creative change, and I know God will show us the way through. Especially if we continue to “depend on the mystery of the power of God working in us.”

In this morning’s reflection, Jen offers this prayer, a prayer that I’ll be praying today and for days to come: “Christ, you are the only thing that matters in this life. Thank you that you work through us even when we feel weak.”

Eric Muhr