Remain in Him: A Message from Executive Director Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

How are you feeling? If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably super-sleepy. A 2010 sleep survey analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 30% of American workers are sleep-deprived. That number rockets up to 52% if you’re in the social assistance and health-care sectors.

Now, if that little trip down data-lane made you sleepy, don’t blame me. That’s your bad sleep habit rearing its ugly head.

Why are we so absurdly tired? That’s a question with a multiplicity of answers. We work the night shift. We checked a text before we went to sleep that made us antsy and perplexed. We have young kids who like to salute and then kiss the sunrise (Please, for the love of all things holy and good, go to sleep, sweet little ragamuffins.). We feel burdened at work. We watched a truly horrific-yet-beautiful episode of Game of Thrones and then entered an existential tailspin. The reasons go on.

For many of our clients at the Clinic, however, the weariness comes from being persecuted, from being dogged by very real enemies who want to destroy them. Like the two young South Sudanese men with whom I spoke last week and who now fear for their lives if they return home. They are normal eighteen-year olds. They like to play basketball, read, tell jokes—but they also have no idea where their families are, or if they’re even alive.

What struck me the most about these young men, though, was their faith. They trusted that God was walking with them each and every step of the way. They were connected to him—and they didn’t seem remotely wearied and bogged down. In fact, their delightful joi de vivre shined through with luster and vividness.

Which brings me to Jesus. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his friends that they need to remain in him, connected to him, just as a branch must remain connected to a vine in order to bear fruit (John 15:4). Apart from Jesus, we cannot do anything—we get lost, feel hopeless, and get knocked off center. With Jesus, life begins to make sense—our purpose returns, our weak knees are strengthened, and life regains its center.  

Try this on for size. In his book An Unhurried Leader, Alan Fadling writes that we should take our to-do lists and write “with God” next to each item. “Go grocery shopping—with God.” “Talk to Bill about how he can’t microwave his broccoli and onion casserole in the public kitchen anymore—with God.” “Listen to your friend talk about her failing marriage—with God.” “Fill out your timesheets—with God.” This is one way to stay connected to the true vine, the vine who makes all of our endeavors, however grand or quotidian, become reality.

May you, as you face burdens at home, at work, and in your relationships, stay connected to Jesus. May you, tired and weary one, find the joy and beauty of life again as you do all that you have on your list—with God.

Until justice and peace embrace,

 

Chris

Abide - July

Meet Our Summer Interns!

Alexis Bullock found the Clinic through Career Services at Franklin College, where she'll enter her senior year in the fall. "I love the intersection of nonprofit work with legal services," she says. This summer, she'll be assisting Project GRACE and loves having the chance to connect the work she wants to do with her faith. "There's so much more that the Clinic does for this community that I didn't even know about and I'm really excited to help," she says.

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