The Pastor’s Piece – July 31, 2022

The Pastor’s Piece

July 31, 2022

My wife and I are in Branson, Missouri this week along with some friends at a Fellowship of Christian Farmers International Convention. On the way down here, St. Louis got 9 inches of rain before we traveled through. We knew it was wet, but it wasn’t until the next day we found out how much rain they got. Just west of St. Louis, we came across a semi stuck in the median, another was tipped on its side, and there was a car that spun out in the rain and went through the guardrail – but God was good to us, we motored on through without incident. It’s 110 degrees here in Branson, but not to worry, as you might suspect, we have A/C in the car and at the hotel. (People just like to complain). 

Branson is a nice respite from our everyday conundrum. We all have burdens and concerns that keep us awake at night: What will tomorrow bring? When will fuel prices stop going up? What is becoming of our country? Is a famine inevitable? What about supply chain economics? Will there be election integrity? Will my health hold up, or will I have a heart attack or a sudden stroke? Will I end up in a nursing home or waste away in a hospital? Who will take care of us in our old age? What if something happens to our children? Singles wonder if they will ever marry. Married couples look at all the divorces and wonder if they will make it. We wonder where we will be in ten years? How do I deal with all this anxiety? We all have questions we can’t answer – 

If nothing else, these past 2 ½ years have taught us one thing – we are not in charge, and we are more vulnerable than we dreamed. Some of you were washing your groceries – I mean – seriously and literally – you were washing the cans. In the grocery store I witnessed a shopper yelling at the checker because they were sold out of toilet paper. He was insisting they had a stash in the back they weren’t bringing out and the checker insisted they did not. He wanted to speak to the manager. I went to the next check out. 

Where is God when we need Him? He’s where He’s always been, but we didn’t know it. You can run away from God to the other side of the earth, and when you get off the plane, He will meet you at baggage claim. Just ask Jonah. God claimed him from the belly of a giant fish.

C. S. Lewis called pain God’s megaphone to rouse a sleeping world. “The Lord whispers in our pleasure,” C.S. Lewis said, “but he shouts in our pain.” When the painful truth finally catches up with us, then we are ready to listen to the Lord. 

Relatively few people meet God on Sunday morning. You are more likely to meet God on the bed of affliction, or when you lose your job, or when your children are sick, or when your friends betray you, or when your marriage collapses. You are more likely to meet Him after the accident than during the coffee hour on Sunday morning. Often we don’t pay attention to the Lord until tragedy strikes. Then at last we look up to heaven.

If God is with you, you can’t lose. It’s as simple as that. Yes, there will be blood, toil, tears and sweat. But when you fight with God on your side, you cannot lose.

That’s the message to the people of God.

When I was a kid every summer my parents took me to Vacation Bible School. It was a tiny little church. It wasn’t our Sunday church but it was close to home. So we went. It was a 2 week VBS. I have pretty much forgotten everything about that VBS except for two things … 1) I got to make a cross out of burnt match sticks. We got to burn the matches then paste them onto a piece of cardboard shaped like a cross. Whoever came up with that craft didn’t take into account they were creating a generation of pyromaniacs. 2) One of the teachers wanted to impress on us youngsters that God would never leave us. She had us hold up our right hands and starting with the thumb, she had us repeat this phrase, touching a different finger with each word: I – Will – Never – Leave – You. How powerful is that simple exercise? It’s been 50 years, and I still remember it.

Christians ought to be the calmest people on earth because we know the Lord, and He holds the future in His hands. He was with us yesterday. He is with us today. He will be with us tomorrow.

Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin)