25th July 2020
Our Dear Brethren,
Earlier this week I climbed out of a canoe on to the sandy shore of Crane Lake in Northern Minnesota. I was almost entirely soaked from the waves that crashed against the bow of the boat over the past hour. It was a very long hour. The relatively short trip that morning was nearly as difficult as our most difficult day when the wind and waves nearly capsized our boat several times. There were moments when it was apparent that the wind and the waves had more control over which way we were headed. In those moments we had to learn that none of us worked alone. We all had to rely on one another and realize others relied on us.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion" (Romans 12:15-16).
Day in and day out as difficult terrain and constantly changing waters places challenges in front of me, I couldn't help but remember that there were people praying for our success. Each member of our immediate team was praying throughout the day for personal strength and strength for one another. When I needed a break in the waves I received exactly that as God heard my prayers and answered them in His way. When others needed rest the moment for that came at exactly the right moment. When we needed words of courage those came from among our ranks.
I can never say thanks to my teammates enough for their words of strength, for their own courage and prayers which helped me develop my own strength through rough waters. I can never say thank you enough for all of your prayers, your support, your love, your patience, and your continued encouragement during all of our shared trials and adventures. This is all especially crucial during difficult times. We are to be a support to one another, to lift one another up, to provide for each other, and love one another. This is not always easy to do, but is constantly necessary.
I also can never thank God enough for placing challenges in front of me and giving me what I need to succeed. As we rode through the waters from river to lake to portage over land, I kept in mind that, although the waves would come, I didn't have to be afraid of them. "Even the winds and water" obey the command of our God. There is nothing that we need to fear as long as God is watching over us.
Not every moment in life is an adventure through the wilderness, but life is full of perils of every day moments. The same God who carries us through the obvious difficulties also encourages us through smaller perils of life. And we must always remember that the same God has placed us in each other's lives so we can continue on together through any and every trouble and triumph we face.
Our love is with you,
Pastor, United Church of God
NYC, NJ, CT, Malawi, Zimbabwe