From Pastor Rick
Summer is officially here as is the heat and humidity. Soon we will be celebrating our nation’s birthday with fireworks and picnics. In the calendar of the Christian year, we are in a long season of what is called ordinary time. There are no major Christian holidays to celebrate or to prepare for. It is the time in the valley compared to the mountain top experiences of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. The color for the season is green which signifies growth. Usually, we are refreshed and revitalized by our mountain top experiences. They inspire us. They gives us a quick burst of awe which empowers us for the moment and may linger for a while, only to fade as we go back down the mountain and into the ordinary time.
But if we look at our lives, they aren’t sustained on the mountain tops. It happens in the valleys of life where we spend most of our time. It is there in the ordinary that we face temptation, that we taste the bitterness of our tears, that we struggle through trials, that we bear the burdens of life. It is there in the ordinary that we grow in our faith. It may be on the mountain top that we begin our journey with Jesus or we are called to go deeper in our relationship with Him, but it is in the valley that our relationship with Him is fleshed out.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 5, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:1-5 NLT).
It is in this ordinary time, in the midst of all the trials and tribulations that we face in our lives, whether small or humongous, where God is working on us. God is growing us. Whether it is cancer, an incurable disease, a traumatic health event, job loss, the death of a loved one, a marriage break up, or some other problem, they can strengthen our confident hope of salvation. It is this hope that will get us through.
Lying paralyzed from the neck down from Guillain Barre Syndrome, I was on a ventilator to help me breathe and had developed MRSA pneumonia. Somehow, while sedated and with plastic mitts on my hands, I pulled the ventilator tube and my oxygen level was at 97%. As the sedation wore off, I wanted to get back to my calling not realizing my inability to walk and that I had no motor skills. However, the struggle to learn to walk again at 52 years old developed endurance of spirit in me as I completely trusted God. That endurance produced character that strengthened my hope in God and His salvation. That hope has never let me down. I am constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness which makes having faith in Him so easy.
As we live in the ordinary and the difficulties of life, let us allow God to work in us the work that He wants to do. Let us not allow all our problems drag us down and make us bitter, but let us allow them be used to grow our character and strengthen our hope. This hope will not lead to disappointment. It will see us through all eternity.
Grace and peace,