Have you seen that little smiley face that often adorns t-shirts, water bottles, ball caps and coffee mugs? As legend has it, Jake (that’s the smiley guy’s name) was created by two brothers from Boston. The brothers had a dream to start a business and tried unsuccessfully for five years to sell t-shirts from the back of their van, on street corners and at art fairs. After many failed attempts the brothers created Jake and a franchise was born. They titled their line of goods, “Life is Good” and it has since spread across America.
Even in the midst of poor business prospects and a struggle to survive these two brothers remained focused on their future. A sense of optimism and hope had grabbed a hold of their hearts. Optimism engaged them and they couldn’t help but to respond.
What has grabbed a hold of your heart? And how do you respond? To be fair, I suspect that many things grab our hearts, at least temporarily; things like: diet/exercise plans, a self-help model, our health, people and issues that we care about, and sports teams. But few of these things grab our hearts or engage us in such a way that we can’t help but to respond. None of these things offer ongoing sustenance and have the ability to transform our hearts and lives.
Perhaps this is why I love the phrase, “Engaged by God” in our mission statement. It explains the grabbing, the taking hold, and the unearned relationships that happen at God’s initiation. The Bible is full of ways that God has engaged the hearts of people over the course of history – God heals, God creates our amazing world and all of its inhabitants, God knows us like a shepherd knows his sheep and God forgives. This incomplete list includes just some of the ways that people throughout time have been engaged by God. The Bible is also full of examples of people responding to God’s grabbing their heart – they praise, they thank, they walk away changed, they tell others and yes, they even question and doubt.
Each of us is engaged by God. How do you respond? How do you live out your faith in response to God’s engagement?
The Elements of a Living Faith point to seven ways that we can respond to God taking a hold of our heart. At Gethsemane we offer opportunities for you to participate in stewardship, spiritual friendship, worship, acts of service and justice, Bible study, telling God’s story and prayer. We know that you participate in these elements in your homes, at school, on the sidelines, in your car and your work places as well. This fall we will have the opportunity to explore the many ways and places that we respond to God’s engagement in our lives as we celebrate what is right in our life and faith.
We also want to encourage you to look for additional ways to respond to God engaging you – take the next step. It’s worth it!
After all, God engages us just because He loves us – wow! Life is Good!