A lot of things have been said about long journeys, and by far wittier people. I can make jokes about eating elephants, whales, or really, really large rutabaga (for our vegetarian friends) and quote you something about starting a 1,000 mile journey, but that is the easy stuff. Sometimes your long journey is what happens on your way to somewhere else, and you are amazed to see how far you have come. You turn around and see you have traveled quite a distance and are amazed that you are still, mostly, in one piece. For my family our journey was filled with small sets of next-steps that have lead us farther outside my comfort zone than I could have ever imagined.
My name is Jonathan Bernard, and my family and I have been members of Life Point for several years. I have always attended church, but I have not always been a part of the Church. It was not until we started attending Life Point that I felt fully committed to being a part of the body of Christ and participating in actively helping those in need in our community.
Working with the awesome people that call Life Point their home, I have cooked for injured soldiers, donated coats and blankets to homeless people, delivered Thanksgiving dinner to someone that would not have had one otherwise, and participated in many other giving opportunities that have pushed me out of my comfort zone. My wife and I both attended Celebrate Recovery, and my wife even went on to lead a Celebrate Recovery group. All of this happened because this church not only preaches the Word of God, but does its best to live the Word. I have felt the call to be His hands and feet more in the past three years than I ever remember from my previous decades as an attendee of churches all over the country.
We have volunteered at other churches, but it was here that we fully felt the call and urging of the Lord to do more than help a little where it was most convenient and least difficult to do so. This is not a condemnation of anyone, but a sad statement on the condition of my own heart. Having been raised in the church, I knew all about how it is good to help other people. My problem was me. I didn’t want to do anything that might make me uncomfortable.
You might ask yourself “what changed?” I have been asking myself that same question and I don’t have a really good answer. The only satisfactory answer I can come up with is me. The egotist in me feels good making the assertion that I am the answer to the question. Go me! But the guy who struggles with having the humility of a surrendered heart is truly glad that whatever part of myself was holding me back was changed.
In the past, I would volunteer for what I viewed as the easiest thing on the list. At Life Point though, I started to experience that holy discontent, the feeling that I was not doing what God had called me to do and I could no longer just do a little and call it good. I still have social anxiety at times, along with foibles and fears that plague me, but God is good and has paved the way for me expand my sphere of participation, and I feel blessed because of this.
I will close with an anecdote from my first time helping at Fisher House. The Fisher House provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers. Life Point’s Project Purpose is scheduled to cook breakfast one Saturday a month at the Fisher House. Volunteers show up, help cook, serve food and clean up the kitchen when it’s over. It is a great time, and a blessing to those who serve and to those who are there recovering at the house.
It is easy for me to be extremely anxious about going new places, especially if there are armed guards you have to pass to gain access. With the fairly vague directions of where to go once I got to the base, I headed out. The military Medical Center is just that, a military establishment. At the gate, they check your ID and either grant you access or make you leave. They also have the authority to write tickets AND deny entry to people who do not have current vehicle registration.
I was not aware of this, and I was also not aware that my car’s registration had just expired. I was concerned when the officer started telling me that my car shouldn’t be allowed on base. However, because I was there to serve at the Fisher House, he had mercy on me and allowed me to enter the grounds. I had a great time cooking large quantities of scrambled eggs, under the expert tutelage of Pastor Danny. I truly believe that God was with me and blessed me as I stepped outside my comfort zone.
Life Point is more than just a collection of lights and chairs and speakers, more than a place that you can take your kids on Sunday. My family and I have learned that this is a place where believers are seeking to learn more about God. We, as a church, seek to be God’s hands and feet to help those in need in our community. We seek to represent Christ to “the least of these” and this draws us closer to God.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40
By Jonathan Bernard