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

I'm ready to fail, cuz I'm ready to try.

January 15, 2017

Things that have made me shudder:

1. Trying to comfort a crying infant at 2:41 AM.           1a. Consoling that same infant in the midst of severe illness at 4:13 AM.  1b. Watching that infant receive two vaccines in one arm and two in the other.

2. Correcting a skidding automobile while on ice with your family in the car.

3. Allowing the same infant (now16 years old) drive solo for the first time multiplied by 4.

4. Attempting any type of youth ministry.             5. Listening to the ongoing political hatred.

6. __________________________________________. I'll let you place your answer here.  

    My experience and I'm sure yours as well have included ups and downs. You have felt on top of the world and also in the pits of hell. I hold fast to my faith that even on my darkest day, God is with me and will not abandon me or my family.  Just yesterday, my wife asked me to think about a time I heard something that sounded so outlandish that it couldn't be true. I didn't even have to think twice. I shared with her the day I pulled into our driveway coming home from Lock Haven University. Tracie came out of the house with tears in her eyes and told me that my dad had suffered a heart attack and it wasn't good. I couldn't believe it and thought it must be a bad joke; then I acknowledged her tears and knew her message was true.

    Life happens like that. We are on top of the world and our hopes and dreams for the future are right in the palm of our hands. Life is good! God is good! Everything is good! Then defeat smashes us to the ground and we don't know how to respond. We're angry. We want answers. We lash out at others and give them our worst response. We don't take losing well. We want things to go our way always. Life doesn't work this way.

    As a follower of Jesus Christ, it is a certainty that we'll suffer defeats and persecution.   (Acts 8:1, 11:19, 1 Thessalonians 3:7, Hebrews 10:33, Revelation 2:10)  Jesus and the teachings of Paul ensure us that defeat will come but will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:57, Romans 8:35).

Staring failure right in the face and not flinching isn't a prerequisite for faith but responding with grace and trust because God is with us is.  'Trying' is the first foot forward and 'living' through failure is the other. The reaction of many friends in light of setbacks and the presidential election is beyond my comprehension. These friends, who proclaim to be people of faith surely don't appear so through their words and actions.

    "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Matthew 13:20-21, NIV)

    Last time I checked Romans 13, we believers have little or no wiggle room to do anything less than prayer for our government leaders whether we voted for or like them or not. My Christian faith holds me accountable to serve Christ without taking sides. I rest here solely on the principle that nobody sitting in the White House is my Savior. I have asked Jesus to fill this position. He said, "yes." The only command that makes any sense then is the one to love. Imagine what love for an enemy or one we disagree with looks like. Christian love requires us to address social injustices but to do so in love. 

    For me, it is always about how we respond. Currently in our nation if you give me 1000 randomly selected people there will be about a 50 50 split on just about any topic you offer them. Religion, Politics, Morality, Ethics, sports, etc are all places we will agree to disagree. In every place mentioned, we have the freedom to believe strongly about our convictions. What becomes the litmus test for discipleship is how we treat each other in the midst of debate or argument.

If you disagree with me, I'm okay with that. I will not stop being your friend. I will not choose to surround myself with people who think like I do. That would be boring and not representative of vibrant Christian faith. 

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