First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Surviving the dark tunnel.

July 8, 2016

Those who enter the tunnel of darkness seldom emerge unscathed. This alley walkway connects our back parking lot with the street. It is a dingy, smelly, sometimes littered strewn place. Birds frequent the area and leave behind their calling cards. We smile when referring to this shortcut. 

Yesterday, I proceeded through and immediately smelled garbage cans from the next door deli. Phew! Food plus humidity plus extreme heat equals a stomach churning moment. As I walked, I noticed bird doo-doo and then several cigarette butts. Halfway through there were several stains that could only come from somebody expectorating something (I'll leave it at that). Nearing the other end of this tunnel carries with it a general sense of relief. Another venture through this dank place and nothing bad happened to me! Stepping out onto the bright street is pause for celebration (short-lived as it is).

    It seems to me as though life is a constant dark tunnel of fear and death and we can't seem to ever approach the end of this place of constant turmoil. This morning brought news of another tragedy... another volatile response....another set of people left to grieve. When will this violent cycle cease? I have several answers to my own question. Wanna hear them? Here they are in no particular order, although I have emphasized the foundational points from which the others emanate.

  *The violent cycle will cease when we, as a culture, value life. 

  *The violent cycle will cease when humanity learns to love unconditionally.

  ****The violent cycle will cease when humanity once again proclaims the sovereignty of God and His Word.

  ****The violent cycle will cease when the ideas of relativism and pluralism die.

  ****The violent cycle will cease when we submit to God's authority and leave our own twisted sense of morality and ethic alongside the road.

The current condition of our world is an ongoing devolution from the Fall spoken of in Genesis 3. Humanity seeking its own way apart from God's direction will always lead to suffering. In that thought then, the largest influence in breaking the violent cycle will be: When the Lord Jesus Christ returns to bring Peace.

        "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful

        and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are

        many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a

        robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him,

        riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp

        sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the

        winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name

        written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:11-16, NIV)

Until this future event occurs though, we're left to journey forward. How is this even remotely possible with such hate and injustice swirling throughout the land? Our daily walk through the dark tunnel called life is possible because of something that over 100 children learned at our Vacation Bible School a couple weeks ago.

        "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads

        me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s

        sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are

        with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence

        of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow

        me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (Psalm 23, NIV)

(Reread this text and everywhere you see 'I' 'me' or 'my' in Psalm 23, insert your own name.)

    As we pause to grieve and pray for the senseless loss of life over the past several days, let's seek the power of the Holy Spirit and walk beside the Good Shepherd who brings peace to chaos and hope to the dark tunnels of life.

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