Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6
Earlier this year when we still could travel, Debbie and I drove to Savannah, Georgia for a wedding. Stopping off along the way, we visited family on St. Simon’s Island. On touring the island and learning about the history of this beautiful place, we came upon Christ Episcopal Church, practically adjacent to Fort Frederica. I was delighted to learn that while Savannah was the first missionary location for John Wesley, this church and fort was the first pastoral assignment for his younger brother, Charles. This brought me back to my church history lessons, where I studied how these two famous brothers did not fare so well in their first calling in the Colonies. In fact, Charles returned to England after a short time, while John returned just over a year later rather abruptly following a disagreement. Depressed and feeling unsuccessful in ministry, John was ready to forgo his calling and follow another path. Not too long after, John was walking on Aldersgate Street in London when he experienced a life altering change of heart. One thing led to another, and, like Martin Luther some two hundred years before, John founded a bold, new way of practicing faith and worship. All simply by doing what he felt God was leading him to do. Today we call this new way the Methodist Church, and it has been a witness to the gospel around the world ever since.
We currently live in a time of uncertainty in dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic. I am quite sure we will get past this but at what cost, and what will the world look like when it is over? Yet when I think back to the great uncertainty John and Charles Wesley encountered when they were just getting started in the Colonies, my heart becomes strangely warmed as well. I realize that even when we think we are failing, God may just have better plans for us as we seek to follow. And is not this the Easter story? If anyone ever thought that life was over as they knew it, it would have been Jesus’ personally chosen disciples on the first Good Friday. But God knew better. And on the third day the world changed, and it has never been the same since. I know I never get everything right all the time, but I do know that God is at work in each of our lives to help us find our way. Thus as we seek to move forward into our future, may the grace of God and the promise of the gospel, forged from the fire of Good Friday and Easter, help us as we seek to live on and support each other in this time of need. And until the time when we are allowed to visit in person once again, blessings be upon you, your families, and the communities in which we live.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future
No matter what time of year it is, dead of winter with the snow blowing all around, or heat of summer with the air heavy with moisture, our lives continue to unfold and time never seems to stand still. Sometimes it feels like life is passing us by and we worry because there isn’t enough time to get everything done. Yet at other times, we worry because there is free time and we must therefore not be doing enough. And there always seem to be difficulties of one kind or another that pop up out of nowhere. Rarely, it seems, are we satisfied that life is just as it is meant to be. The question is, then, do we focus on the worry and the problems, or do we accept that they are there and focus, instead, on the things in our lives that are fun, loving, and joyous?
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about weeds and wheat growing together in the field (Mt 13:24-30). The farmer had planted the wheat, but then an enemy had come along and planted the weeds. The farmer’s helpers want to pull the weeds, but the farmer will not let them, because the wheat might be harmed. It is better to error on the side of protecting the wheat, the farmer says, rather than on getting rid of the weeds. The farmer’s choice is to wait until the harvest and then to sort things out.
If we think of this in terms of God being the farmer, and us being the wheat, the message is that God loves us too much to risk harming us at this point in time by getting rid of all our problems. That may not make sense, but it seems to be true. Agriculturists say that one way to have fewer weeds in a garden, or field, is to have healthier plants. And plants grow healthier with more sun, fertilizer, and water. We, too, can help lessen the impact of the weeds in our lives by growing healthier, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Spending more time with God, through prayer, bible reading, and worship will help us shift our focus away from the weeds and more towards the wonderful things in our lives. The weeds will never completely go away in this life, and sometimes they will be more numerous than at other times, but our lives will be better, because our focus is on the positive and not on the negative.
If we can help you on your journey at all, please do not hesitate to call or to visit us on Sunday mornings.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future.