First United Methodist Church

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News & Devotions

Devotion from Pastor Rachel (Sept. 3)

We recently bought a water table for the kids. We had noticed that while Emmaline loves creating tea parties, Charlie really just likes pouring the water and making a mess. Maybe that is a boy and girl thing, or maybe it is a 4-year-old and 2-year-old thing, or maybe it is just us. But we live in a beautiful state and the late afternoons here are great times to be outside. One thing you need to know about me is that I LOVE surprises. In my family growing up, we did scavenger hunts to find our surprise gift at Christmas and on our birthdays, so I was excited to incorporate the build-up to a surprise for the next generation. The water table arrived Friday afternoon and Ryan put it together, and then we worked on creating a scavenger hunt. Our children can’t read yet, so we drew pictures of places in our home that they would recognize and placed the clues there. There was one on the piano, one in the play tent, one in Emmaline’s princess castle and the last one leading them outside. Of course, we took pictures of them “reading” the cues and figuring out where to go and Emmaline, who was totally invested in this entire process, would drag Charlie from room to room with growing excitement.

They finally finished the scavenger hunt and arrived outside to see their new Water Table and they were thrilled! It was a great surprise, but the build-up was better. In only the last five days, that little water table has gotten a lot of use, and I am thankful for the means of being able to buy gifts like this for my children that are both mentally stimulating and just plain fun. But how many good and wonderful gifts does our Heavenly Father lavish on us that we finally see revealed after a really long scavenger hunt? How does our walk of faith sometimes feel like guesswork as we move from clue to clue and finally see the big reveal? What do you remember receiving or seeing that felt like the prize at the end of a long journey?

As people of faith, we have a great prize at the end. If your first thought was heaven, let me remind you that life WITH God is the prize. We don’t follow the clues (walk this journey of faith) all of our life only enjoy the prize at the end, but to live into the journey and the build-up which is almost as much fun. While life WITH God is better than any amateur scavenger hunt, sometimes when we focus on the prize, we forget the journey. We forget how God is even a little more revealed with each clue along the way. Maybe God is revealed in the healing of cancer or diagnosis that has plagued you or someone you love and through the process of that illness, you learned to lean more on God’s strength than on your own. Maybe God was revealed in that hard conversation with a partner or friend or child that lead eventually to more health and wholeness deep down. Maybe God has been revealed to you in this new time of social distancing and isolation in such a way that you more fully appreciate the connections you do have and your priorities have shifted accordingly.

Does Scripture promise the prize of Heaven to those that love God through faith in Jesus Christ, yes, absolutely it does. But the Bible promises us a lot more than eternal communion with the Triune God. Scripture promises over and over again to teach us new and amazing things on this journey of faith and to let that journey teach and shape us while more and more of God is revealed.

I love this version of the well-known text in Romans, chapter 5 which talks about how we grow our endurance through our suffering, and as that grows so does out character and our hope. Said another way:

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might standout in the wide-open spaces of Gods grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Theres more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when were hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, were never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrarywe cant round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:2-5 The Message

There is more to come friends! Not just when we die and take our final breath. But in every breath as we look for God and walk WITH God and take seriously the clues that reveal more of who God is along the way. May God increase your hope and open your eyes to all that God is doing and may God use you to be a clue to someone else so that you might reveal the love and grace of Jesus to them when they need to hope and when they need the assurance that there is in fact, much more to come!