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I have no idea whatsoever when the first Thursday's Thirst came out. And I figured the research I would have to do to figure it out would not be worth my time. However, as I wrote the Hetzner Family Christmas letter last night (after first re-reading a few old ones), I realized some of this weekly epistle's roots can be found in the origins of that other annual one.

Our first annual Hetzner Family Christmas letter was sent out in December 1983. I was not able to locate the first couple, but I did find the one from 1985. It started out, "In case any of you care, this volume is entitled III Hetzner. It is deviously conspired (not to be confused with the books of Joel, Matthew, and Mark which are divinely inspired, or, for that matter, with Monica who is more than a twice evenly divided sexagenary). This should assure you that things are so much the same here that we almost sent you a photocopy of last year's letter, but instead decided to send you a photocopy of this year's family."

The cause for that first Hetzner Family Christmas letter is probably found in two other events from earlier in that same year. On July 31 I was ordained and installed as pastor at Charity Lutheran, Detroit, and then, on September 3, Joel was born. I am thinking that handwriting a note to each of our family and friends scattered across the country became an impossibility for Monica about that time. And, of course, at that time I was writing a weekly sermon (or two - in fact, during that first Advent as a pastor I had six funerals). Without ever thinking about it, I am now thinking that God was at that time providing a spawning ground for what today is being sent to 640 locations, then posted on Face Book and shared in various ways.

Claire's Uncle Roy always used to say, "Church work is slow." By that I am thinking he meant, "God's plans are slow to develop according to man's logic." But then, who are we to think that our logic is better than God's timing. The older I get (and yes, I still can be quite impatient) the more I have noticed there is wisdom in trusting upon God's timing.

Centuries ago David was divinely inspired (not deviously conspired) to write, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hand.” (Psalm 31.14-15). I wonder if when, as a young shepherd, he defended his father's flock from lions and bears (Oh, my!), he had any inkling of how God was preparing him for the divine plan of his life? Abram was already 75 when God first promised him a son, and then he had to wait 25 years for that son to be born - and that was still just the beginning of what God had in mind for Abraham.

In a myriad of different ways, God continues to work the same way in our lives. He is using what happened in our lives 25 years ago to assist us in what he is calling us to do today. And, at the same time, he is using what is happening in our lives today to form us for the tasks he has prepared for us to do in the future. St. Paul (have you read all of the things that went into his formation prior to his usefulness in the kingdom?), right after he was divinely inspired to nail down how "by grace we have been saved by faith" (Ephesians 2.8), goes on to say, "We are (God's) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (2.10)

Wow, I hear this to say that, first of all, God is using ALL that has happened in our lives prior to this day as a spawning ground for what he has prepared for us to do TODAY! And, secondly, what happens today and tomorrow he will use to enable us to do in the future those good works which he has prepared beforehand! What can we say, except, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hand.” (Psalm 31.14-15).

And then, when I think of all the times I messed up ... in so many different ways ... and the tragedies faced in countless lives ... I realize that God simply treats them as typo's, and even uses them as important ingredients in the narrative of our lives in service to him ... continually spawning new opportunities for each of us - knowing that we are already eternally saved by his grace - to reach out with his saving grace to others.

Double Wow - What a fertile spawning ground our God has brought you and me to on this day ... and it's not even Christmas yet!!

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