Within a few short hours, we had a cluster of houses with clean driveways. More importantly, neighbors started crossing over to visit and say thanks. Soon people were going back and forth giving away cookies, coffee, soup and whatever was needed. Others started coming outside to talk and play in the snow.
If worry is poison, faith is God’s antidote. The stronger our faith, the less we worry. How? We stop depending on ourselves and learn to seek God’s will. We spend more time on our knees in prayer. A friend once told me: “Larry, rather than worry all night, wouldn’t it be smarter to pray half the night and then sleep comfortably until morning?” Sound advice.
The ad promised: “35 flavors of milk shakes.” So, my wife and I decided to drive to the curb-side service restaurant and order hot dogs and milk shakes. My milkshake was peanut butter, chocolate fudge. Perfect, even on a cold wintry day. After the server delivered the order to our car, we noticed several empty tables, so we decided to enjoy our meal outside.
2020 started fast and furious with one crisis following another. Devastating fires throughout Australia. A series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Potential war with Iran. Continuing Impeachment drama in our country. The United Methodist Church I love and serve is likely splitting into two denominations over LGBTQ+ issues. In addition, my community and people in the churches I serve experienced serious illness, emotional difficulties and heartache. It’s enough to ruin anyone’s attitude.
Isaiah 6 reminds us: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (6:8) We all have our opportunities to serve God in a variety of ways. But some of those ways involve possible hardship, sacrifice and danger. May the rest of us stand ready to offer encouragement and support.
Each person faced multiple problems of low income, attending school, leading a church, maintaining a family life and trying to spend personal time with God. In any other profession, this would be a formula for disaster. Yet, each one was passionate about the future and their relationship with God.
For many, Jesus doesn’t seem that close anymore. Are people attending church to celebrate the birth of Jesus or merely out of habit? As pastors, are we still excited about the God who called us into ministry or are we preparing our professionally organized message with all the right words but none of the passion?