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What Must I Do?

October 13, 2018

On a hike around Lily Lake when we were on our search for Moose a few weeks ago, I stopped and took this picture. I was intrigued how the tree had managed to grow out of the rock and adapt as the wind blows. Tenacity of spirit seems to be the thing that struck me the most. 

When I began preparing for this Sunday’s sermon on October 2nd, Hurricane Michael wasn’t on my mind. Nor were the churches in my former Presbytery on the Florida Panhandle. I heard the words of the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.

Funny thing about that concept is that in my heart, as I think about the Rich Young Man, I think about so many christians for whom their sole concern is the individual salvific experience. As long as me n Jesus are good, I am going to get my golden crown with all of the jewels! It almost seems as though it is all about “what’s in it for me?” and nothing about “how can I serve you, Lord?” Or as importantly, “how can I be Christ to others, Lord?”

In light of the events of this past week, I have been thinking about “what must we do?” in terms of the world situation today. In my heart, and in my daily living, I come across opportunities to be a witness to God’s love and hope in this world. It may not be on a global scale, but with each interaction, I see opportunities to share the love of Christ with others. Sometimes it is through my actions… sometimes it is through my inability to act AND yet, my ability to walk with those in need.

For seven years, I lived and served God in the Panhandle of Florida. For three years I was stationed at Hurlburt Field as a USAF Chaplain. For four years I served as a pastor in DeFuniak Springs as a member of Florida Presbytery. Watching the news from places like Tyndall AFB, Mexico Beach, Panama City, Port St Joe, Apalachicola, and Panama City Beach to name a few places, my heart has been breaking and my tears and prayers have been lifting for my sisters and brothers whom I know and for those who are kin because of the Kin-dom of God.

The words of Psalm 21:1 ring loudly in my ears and in my heart… “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?” Folks who have lost so much are trying to dig out from under the ruins left by a hurricane. Rescue crews are praying that their mission is Search & Rescue, not Search & Recovery… in the midst of it all, God’s children cry out…

So how do we respond? Are prayers enough? Is monetary support of rescue agencies such as the Red Cross or denominational agencies like the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Agency enough? Is listening with a loving and compassionate heart to those who are in the midst of it all enough?

How we respond is as unique as each one of us who is created in the Image of God! Dear reader, for me the answer is a combination of all of the above and more.

When I was a kid, my parents took me to Disneyland in Anaheim, California on many occasions. One of my Mom’s favorite rides was the boat that took us through “It’s a Small World After All.” It is a smaller world today thanks to Electronic Media and so much more. So often that smaller world is one of hatred, animosity, and greed… perhaps, through the Spirit of God or can be a world of love, justice, mercy, and peace… it is up to us to listen, discern, and act! Will you join me, dear reader in making a difference for God?

  1. When I was in seminary a missionary spoke in one of my classes saying “Our first conversion is to God. The second is to our brothers and sisters.” I’ve thought of that often through the years. I think the only way to respond to these tragedies, is to give something of ourselves, our resources and our prayers.

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