In advance, I apologize to the nautically savvy. I am not. Onward we go. Our family watched The Finest Hour this weekend. What an impacting film. It is a true story about Bernie Webber who was a United States Coast Guardsman. In an effort to not give too much away, he was asked to go out during a storm on February 18, 1952 to rescue a tanker named the SS Pendleton. It had broken in two off the shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was cold. It was stormy. In the retelling, acquaintances dubbed his going a suicide mission. There was a sand bar in the harbor that moved. On a good day you could see your way around it, but during a storm it was just not done. Also, looming in the background was a previous mission he was involved in that saw people lose their lives. Understanding that he had his orders, the concerned suggested to him that he should circle the harbor, "get lost" and come back in. He refused. He said, "the Coast Guard says you have to go out, they don't say you have to come back" and off he went to pick an apprehensive crew. He had a job to do. He was passionate about his mission. It made me reflect on my walk as a Disciple of Christ. On one side the church. Showing up. Shaking hands. Encouraging words. Singing in Choir. Serving in children's ministry. Women's studies. Helping elderly neighbors... All good things for sure, safe good things, but am I crossing the bar? Christ crossed the bar. Paul crossed the bar. As a church we are studying the book of Acts and I am moved by Paul's example in Acts 20:22-24. Paul says he knows that he is not coming back and that prison and hardship is facing him everywhere he goes, but he is committed to complete the task that Christ gave him of sharing the good news of God's grace. I am so grateful to God for sending John and Ildi many years ago to study the Bible with this clueless and sometimes stubborn girl and her reluctant husband. Hey honey, the guy I met at the grocery store is coming over with his wife to do a Bible study, did not go very well in my Catholic household. I am pretty sure I heard, "you owe me," murmered... In the end, it transformed my family. I have shared this joy, but there are times I have circled the harbor hemmed in by the bar. In my life that bar has taken different forms as surely as it does in the ocean. It has taken the form of illness. It has taken the form of financial hardship. Most disappointingly and quite simply it has taken the form of selfishness and lack of focus. Lack of missional mentality. I went to a church once and it had a sign that on one side welcomed you and on the other side as you exited it said, "you are entering your mission field." I want to hang that on my bedroom door. Everyday we wake up we have a choice to merely exist or live the full life God called us to. We were not given a spirit of timidity, (2 Timothy 1:7) but one of power and love. We were not called to seek and save the polished. Not just the mom sitting next to us on the yoga mat or a friend we bump into from years ago, share with them too, but Christ's call was to seek and save the lost everywhere. My son was at the Walmart the other day and an employee went out of his way to help my son find the right gloves. A conversation ensued and my son asked him if he went to church around here. The man said,"not since I was a kid, my life has been real hard, but maybe that's what I need in my life, More Jesus!" He asked my son about church before getting called away on the speaker. It reminded me that we were called to make the most of EVERY opportunity. To daily cross that bar, regardless of the weather, while I remember who first crossed it for me.
Ephesians 5:16 NLT
Make the most of every opportunity
"It is far better to light the candle than curse the darkness." William Lonsdale Watkinson
I was reminded of this quote the other day. It stuck in my heart a bit. I heard a message from a pastor. He was talking about social media. Specifically he was talking about complaining. Sometimes in our human spirit it can seem justified. There have been a good amount of people having their world turned socially upside down with Covid. Social media has become a breeding ground of controversy as many people struggle mentally with these changes. Our Pastors call was to be the light. Phil 2:14 Tells us that we are to do everything without grumbling or arguing. That is a massive attitude adjuster. Philippians 4:4-7 says be rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, again I say rejoice. He encourages us that by prayer the peace of God will guard our hearts through Jesus. So don't complain, stay in prayer and be joyful. Be a light. The world does not need more darkness. I heard a story years ago from my friend Barbara. She spoke of being a young mother struggling to manage her three boys. It was stressful and definitely put a strain on her marriage. As her house was a bit chaotic, right down to meal times dominated by a son who refused to eat anything but hamburgers, her neighbors were like something out of father knows best. She would watch the mother come out of her house with her children like ducks in a row. They were quite, respectful... what was her secret? She approached the neighbor one afternoon and asked, "what do you do that your children behave so well?" The woman replied that they raised their children with the Bible as their standard and offered to show her how. That was the beginning of a new life for our friends. They studied the Bible, became disciples and passed on that light to so many others, including Rob and I. Never know where that light will come through. :) As a Disciple of Christ, I hope to shine the light I have been entrusted with. It is not an active choice to shine, but it is an active choice to follow and submit to His will. When we do, we shine.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
Rob and I have been studying the life of Christ. One really thought provoking thing that hit my heart was the professor's thoughts on Mat 5:13. Specifically salt. I have heard many takes on this, but I'll focus on what was a much different perspective that really gave me a cause for pause. He reflected on this humble spice's place and purpose in this society. Without refrigeration, salt was what they used to preserve the fish they caught, their meat and (Ezekiel 16:4) they even rubbed down babies with it! The world that Christ entered, when He was born of Mary, was one where the word of God had been manipulated and added to until it was oppressive and abusive to God's people. It was also, big business. Things like the Sabbath which was meant to be a blessing, became a burden. Don't wear shoes with nails in them on the Sabbath because the extra weight constitutes work. Don't walk on the grass on the Sabbath, it constituted threshing. If your house caught on fire on the Sabbath you could not carry anything out of the house, but you could put on as many layers of clothes as possible and wear them out. Why not just put out the fire? It was prohibited on the Sabbath. We find that Christ pushed back against this oppressive teaching often. An example of this is Matthew 12 when He was being challenged about healing on the Sabbath. I have no doubt early on people noticed when the Jewish leaders were making... changes, but thought, they know what they are doing or were too intimidated to challenge them. In essence, Jesus came and said enough. He stood up to them. He turned over tables. I love Him for it. He broke down the barriers and made a way for all of us, if we follow Him. As for the salt/preservative, we are called to be the salt of the Earth. Reflecting on the above, it is clear to me that Jesus is saying don't let this happen again. Preserve the Gospel. As a disciple of Christ I take this call seriously. I make sure to do my best to be like the Acts 17:11 Bereans. I listen, examine and when I get a check in my spirit, I ask questions. I pray for God's strength and courage to be the salt I am called to be. Questions, comments and insight welcome. God Bless.