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Who would have ever expected the humble toilet paper roll to become something of value? Recently my wife saw a woman walking on the sidewalk with a big package of toilet paper, and she feared for her safety. In the past, if a roll of toilet paper was given as a gift, it likely was a gag. Now, this gift can receive serious appreciation!

How many things in life have we taken for granted? It has always been there and will always be there. Toilet paper falls into this category for me. It wasn’t until this pandemic I started to appreciate all of the resources, and work, involved in producing toilet paper. It never occurred to me how closely production has been timed with demand, and how there is a difference between toilet paper produced for consumer and commercial uses. For the first time in my life, I’m closely monitoring our personal toilet paper supply so we have time to find more.

What will be next? As supply chains are broken, it is expected there will be a meat shortage. I’ve read freezers are in hot demand as people are stocking up. As Americans, we use to look down on other nations with empty shelves in their grocery stores. Our shelves (and freezer sections) were always full. Have we really appreciated all the work and dedication that has gone into making sure our people have enough food to eat? How much have we taken farmers, slaughter-house workers, truck drivers, grocery workers, and so many others in the supply chain, for granted?

Are there people in our lives we are guilty of not appreciating? There is nothing like a pandemic to make us wonder what life might be like without the people we love most. How often do we get upset about things that are pretty insignificant? Do we ever treat each other poorly? Even before the pandemic, our time with each other was limited. It can be uncomfortable to remember our time in this world is finite, and easy to take the time we have for granted.

What about the world we get to live in? It is such a beautiful world! I am absolutely in awe, and in love, with the diversity of the creation we get to call home. It is breath-taking! How often do we not value our world as much as we should? We are part of an ecosystem that can withstand a lot of abuse, but eventually can be destroyed if it isn’t taken care of. We might be close to the line of no return. Are we listening to the voices crying out warnings? I’m greatly encouraged by watching our world start to heal itself during this time of humans “staying at home” during the pandemic. We can’t keep our societies shut down forever, but is there a better way for us to live within this creation where we are placed? It is my hope multiple future generations will be able to enjoy our world. Some of these people will be our relatives.

How often have we—even as Christians—taken God for granted? Where we are focused impacts our actions. The actions of one person can impact the lives of many. We can be that person. What can happen when groups come together working for the good of all? As the church, we have the opportunity to do this. It’s unlikely we will full-fill this role if we constantly fight. We need to stay focused on who God calls us to be, and the example Jesus Christ set for us.

To be honest, I don’t feel like I have a lot of power to change our denomination, church as a whole, our nation, or our world practices. I recognize, though, I have a lot of power to change my actions. I have the ability, and opportunity, to grow in awareness and love. We each have this in our own lives. The surprise ending is what God is able to do with our choices.

Your brother on the journey, Mark

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