Love As Many People As You Can
Billy Graham, a famous evangelist tells of a South Sea Island missionary who wanted to translate the word ‘faith’. The local native language didn’t contain the word. The missionary spent months thinking about this important word’s translation. One day he saw a man laying back in a hammock. The man had both feet off the ground and let all his weight rest on the hammock. The missionary now had his word for faith.
It can be hard to lay back and completely trust God, especially when things seem pointless and painful. Deuteronomy 29:29 says that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God.” If the verse
stopped there it would be true and profound but maybe not comforting. It continues, “… but things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”
One of the things that God has revealed is that he longs to be there for us. To be present. To strengthen us. When going through a hard time one Bible writer described his experience. “The Lord
is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take comfort.” (Psalm 18:2)
The word comfort means: strong; strengthening. Over the years many Christians can testify to God’s deep strengthening in times of suffering. I myself can. The apostle Paul talks about it, “Praise be to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Suffering is deeply personal but comfort happens in community. We strengthen each other. We are able to be the refuge for someone else in the same way God or another person has been a refuge for us.
Peter Hazlewood was a person who knew how to strengthen others. The consistent experience of students, staff and parents was that he was able to see them. If something was wrong, he took the
time to care. If things were good he’d laugh with them. Often he would laugh with people anyway. He was a good man.
Actually, he is a good man. In Mark 12:27 Jesus, remembered God’s description of himself in the Old Testament when he said:
‘I am the God of Abraham; I am the God of Isaac; I am the God of Jacob’ Jesus went on to make one of the most comforting statements in the Bible:
“He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
We know that Peter, Mr Hazlewood, is alive with Jesus. He knew that too. It is a great comfort to us. Last Term, Peter asked the students, “If you knew you had one year to live what would you do with it?” After listening to their responses he said;
‘If I knew I had one year to live I’d get as close to Jesus as I could and love as many people as possible.’
Though we don’t understand why we have lost Peter we turn to the Father of compassion and take both feet off the ground and rest in the God of all comfort.
In some ways, faith is like a hammock – rest, surety, full reliance and trust.