July 1, 2020

 

A Word from Walker

 
When I was a teenager back in the Summer of 1975 I saw one of the scariest movies imaginable called “Jaws.” For those of us old enough to recall, it was about a Great White Shark that terrorized a New England coastal town. I saw it with my friends Victor Vinters and John McGowan. If you ever heard two eighth grade boys scream like little girls in a House-of Horrors you know it has a way of setting your nerves on edge. What made it even more frightening for me was that I was living in Wilmington, NC at the time and frequented Wrightsville Beach a good bit. I don’t think I got beyond waist deep in the water that summer!
 
There is a lot I remember about this flick (some of it I wish I could forget), but one thing that still sticks out to me was the brilliant marketing tag line they used that captured the unpredictable nature of the film which said, “Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water …” It was as if they were saying, “Don’t get too comfortable in the water, there is something out there that you can’t see that could swallow you whole!”
 
For many of us, there is a similar feeling in the pit of our stomachs and deep in our souls that won’t go away. This foreboding angst flows out of the seemingly relentless nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the added on weight of heightened civil unrest. It reminds me a lot of what the precious people of Puerto Rico went through when two monstrous hurricanes hit their island in less than a month. As they were seeking to recover and rebuild they were slammed with a worse storm. For us, it’s as if that just when you thought you had a grip on things, something else happens that jolts your emotional equilibrium and threatens to take you under.

I am there with you. In times like these we have to honestly ask God, “What are you up to and how do you want me to respond?” As I have mediated on our situation the words of Hebrews 12:25-29 ring true to me: “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

In the midst of our present suffering and struggles there are unseen forces at work. God is at work unfolding his greater purposes. However, the Enemy of our souls is seeking to have us panic and turn from the Lord and look for our own solutions. But the truth in this is that God is using all of these things to reveal two important realities to us.

This shaking we are encountering is revealing first what is shallow, weak and temporary. Until a storm hits we are comfortable in our routines and superficial securities. Then a storm hits and everything is in flux. Think of the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” The edifices built of hay or sticks couldn’t stand against the threatening puffs of the ravenous wolf. Only the house made of brick stood strong against the assault.

That leads us to the second thing God is revealing in these difficult days: Only a life built on Christ will survive such a tumult. God’s redemptive work in these trials is this: The things we have trusted in to give us ultimate security have been found wanting and we are once again reminded that only Jesus Christ can shoulder our burdens and carry us through the storm. Jesus alone is our mighty fortress and our strong deliverer. He is the solid rock on which we can build our lives. Those who lean on him find peace and strength. Not only that, we can invite others into the refuge found under his powerful pinions of protection.

Because we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken we don’t have to fear what is behind us, beneath us or before us. We can therefore worship and lean into God because we see how he is at work in removing our dependence on things that can’t deliver and building into us surer, greater value. Please know that we are praying for you as you listen and learn from our Lord during these difficult days.

Your fellow traveler,
Walker
 

July 1, 2020

 

Craig's Comments 

 
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! Luke 5:5-6, NLT
 
Have you ever felt like a carpenter was trying tell you how to fish? We all have those experiences in life when we have years of experience, training, and study under our belts yet words like “unprecedented” and “global pandemic” continue to remind us that this is no ordinary fishing trip. The feeling of fishing all night without results can be emotionally draining and cause us to throw up our hands in defeat. A friend in Wilkes county often noted, “It’s called fishing because if you always caught something it would be called ‘catching’.”
 
I recently took my eight year old daughter out to Lake Thomalex and she caught twelve fish (with a lot of help from her dear old dad). She couldn’t understand why she was catching so many and I caught so few. She even began to talk some trash along the way, not realizing that I had sacrificed much to help her find just the right spots and learn the basics of fishing. God takes us on this journey with a purpose and has sacrificed so much so that we can simply join the journey. While we are stewards of our time, talents, and treasures, God also reserves the right to call an audible and send us in another direction even during a global pandemic. The challenge that we face is: are we operating under the rules of “precedence” when they may not apply in this current context?
 
The process of listening to a carpenter tell you how to fish may not be what you planned or desired, but remember this is no ordinary carpenter. Jesus has great things in store for us if we are willing to listen daily to his leadership and direction. We still believe that God has needs in our communities as we plan toward our August Missions Blast. If we can help you connect with your local schools, partnering agencies, or new opportunities to help at risk youth through a bicycle ministry called BCX, be sure to let us know. It may seem like the fish are not biting right now, but that doesn’t mean that we have to completely surrender during such a time as this.
 
Hands to the plow!
 
Craig Clayton
Community Missions Catalyst
 
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