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"In our ordinary life, we have the idea that things should gradually progress, but there comes a time when there is a tumble-up, a mixture of God and man and fiends, of crime and abomination, and all our idea of steady progress is done for. … We like to talk about the light of God coming like the dawn, but it comes in terrific upheaval."

This observation from Oswald Chambers made me think about how God works in our congregations. For some bizarre reason, our world's outrageous realities-from auto wrecks and the death of children to unemployment and broken homes-are the terrible workshop in which God touches persons and makes saints.

Contrasting personalities are sometimes oddly-and seemingly perversely-juxtaposed. And yet, shoved against one another, as they grind and jostle through life, God's grace penetrates. This concept keeps coming through powerfully in our best Christian writers. The Dostoyevsky novel, the Tolstoy epic-full of petty misunderstandings, tragedies, triumphs-are ...

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