Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 16

“Life is Good. Life is Hard”

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Years ago, I was with my dad as he cleaned out his personal library. Every so often, he would pull a book off the shelf, and I could tell he was reminiscing. He would hold it, thumb through the pages, then turn to me and say, “That’s a good one!” One book he pulled out was entitled, “Life is Good. Life is Hard.” I remember him saying that the contents of the book, was not really that stirring.                                        But he said, “I love that title!”

Life is good. Life is hard. People around the globe are trying to find meaning between these pages. People are looking for more than a snappy title, they want substance that stirs the soul.

This morning, I read an article by Heather Lanier entitled, “Surrendering to Uncertainty”. She reveals her personal quest and challenge of gluing together the pages of “goodness” and “hardness”. Eight years ago, she was told that her nine- month old baby had Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. It is a rare condition caused by a genetic deletion in her fourth chromosome. The doctors told her that her baby might talk or might not. They told her that her baby might walk or might not. She and her husband were going to have to live with uncertainty. They would be pressed to their limits to discover if life could be found between good and hard.

Her daughter has made progress. But the victory has not been found in her ability to do a dance routine across the kitchen floor. The victory has been discovered as they have dug deeper into their own story. In her discovery, she declares, “I would never want to relive that first year with my daughter, yet I would never give it back.” One can only imagine the trauma, and the drama and the depth held between those two tensions as they pushed and pulled on each other.   

She said that she listened as a geneticist told her that her daughter could choke on her own saliva. She told of holding her baby’s thrashing body as the doctor snaked a black tube up her nose and down her throat. She said that she watched her daughter’s lips turn blue during a grand mal seizure.

But she also expressed that through all the heart ache, she discovered an aching tenderness within. This life of uncertain fragility exposed a tenderness deep within her heart. It was found existing beneath her ribs, and resting under her previously held beliefs. This experience pointed her toward discovering what was most important in life.

Pressed between precious and pain, a word seemed to be spoken. A tender word. A direct word. Out of the darkness it came, “Don’t squander this.” The Word continued, “You want, with all your might to wish this away. But there is something vital here, in all this unknown.”

There is something vital here for all of us. This pandemic is unleashing uncertainty into all our lives as never before. Our initial desire is to wish this all away. Yet, there is a voice that remains and speaks softly, slowly and directly. We can choose to ignore this still, small voice. But there is a Word to be discovered by each of us between the pages of prayer and pain. A message to be found between life being good and life being hard. We are encouraged, “Don’t squander this!”

What might be hiding under our ribs and resting beneath our beliefs? What tender, mighty truth might be revealed to transform our entire interpretation of our story?

Life is good. Life is hard. It is interesting that as my father’s health weakened; and as each day became harder; his soft voice could be heard speaking the words, Life Is Good! Life is a Gift!

The book title that my dad loved, might not have had content that stirred him. But my Father’s life story has stirred me in many and various ways. His life has led me to dig deeper knowing that in this good, hard life, there are things that I do not want to squander.

Good, hard days are ahead of us. Let the voice of God speak. There is something vital to be found within each one of us.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

 



Pastor’s Blog March 16

“On Eagles Wings”

 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles…”

                                                                                                                              Isaiah 40:31

 

Yesterday, we all were challenged to find a way to worship away from church.  I chose to listen to a sermon online entitled, “Ruah”, from my sister’s pastor. “Ruah” is the Hebrew word for “Spirit” or “Breath of God”, and refers to the Holy Spirit.

As I listened to the message, I walked to the window, the sun was streaming in. The mountains were crystal clear. It was an incredibly beautiful morning. As I stood gazing at the beauty, with coffee cup in hand, my eye caught an eagle in flight. Then I saw two. They were beautiful birds, wings extended, drifting and hovering high above the trees. It seemed as if they were suspended and were being lifted up higher and higher without any effort of their own.

Then the scripture came to mind, “Those who hope in the Lord, they will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Can you picture those beautiful birds? I’m sure you’ve seen eagles in flight many times before. They are magnificent, strong creatures, but they also know how to use the wind beneath their wings.

In these next weeks of uncertainty, let us be like the eagle – stretching out our lives, our concerns, our worries and allow the “Ruah”, the Holy Spirit to lift us up and hold us steady. The Holy Spirit will lead us, guide us, strengthen us, and give us peace.

Isaiah tells us that those who “hope” in the Lord will renew their strength. That word “hope” refers to “waiting patiently with expectation”. Many circumstances are beyond our control. We are being called upon to be concerned, to take this pandemic very seriously, to plan but not panic. Let us wait patiently with the expectation that God will continue to lift us up, and direct our paths through this difficult time. Let us continue to pray for our leaders, communities, business owners, the sick, our friends and our neighbors – that the Holy Spirit will lift us all up, unite our hearts and allow us to soar high above all fear.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Mark