Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pondering: WHAT IF...... rising strong

Have you pondered these things recently: 
What if?
  • What if the Donald becomes the president of the United States?
  • What if Hillary? 
  • What if I were to move to Canada? 
  • Have you been speaking in hushed tones lately, walking around as if not to be noticed?
  • Are you quietly doubling down on your food storage? Don’t. 
  • Got your passport squared away, don’t. Wait a second:

Hebrews 10:35-37Do not throw away your trust, for your reward will be great. You must be willing to wait without giving up. After you have done what God wants you do, God will give you what he promised you. The Holy Writings say, “In a little while, the One you are looking for will come. It will not be a long time now.
It’s been a stormy year; heavy rain, massive floods, hail and lightning. In my neck of the woods, a whole state, West Va.is in distress. I saw a Youtube video of a house that was overtaken by a flooding river and torrential downpour. The water was so strong that it lifted the house from its foundation and carried it away with the current. But if that weren’t bad enough lightening struck the house as it was floating down river. It caught fire, and the fire exploded and took out a tree as it traveled along, breaking up in bits and pieces. Wow, I was dumbstruck to say the least. I hope that the person filming the scene was not the homeowner.  I believe that this is the part where we say: This is a “storm” of biblical proportions”.  And it is. 

I started to compare it to the 10 Plagues of Egypt. Let’s see, we have had wild animals (alligators) behaving badly in the Florida everglades, which could stand in for the Nile River. Unfortunately, human lives were taken, blood in the water. And again in certain beaches in Florida, there is “toxic” algae growing and dying in the water ways. We are in the throes of El Nina, with a weather pattern so judicious, that when it rains in one part of the US, you can be sure that the same weather will happen in your state to some degree. Like I said before, hail, torrential rain, thunder and lightning. 
Many first, second and even 3rd born children are losing their lives to a plague of senseless violence, explosions, gangs and the secret combinations that finance them.  There are mothers against daughters; a murder in Texas of two daughters by their mom. Fathers against sons and the reverse. Parents divided in their homes.  These are hard things right? And we only speak of these things in whispers, too negative. But we can’t look away, even now, when everything around us is threatening our “false” sense of security in this world.

This past Sunday, our lesson centered on the concept of “being a witness”. I found quite a few definitions of the word, several stood out to me that related to the lesson. We, as in we who are believers in Christ, Christians, covenant makers etc. We are witnesses for Christ when we reflect or mirror the attributes of the Savior himself. A witness should be in theory the “mirror” image of ‘Him who has sent us”. But there is another definition that I almost forgot, a witness is a martyr. Sometimes martyr’s actually live rather than die for a cause. There are hundreds of scripture in the Bible encouraging us to “be strong in the Lord and the power of his might”. And “be not afraid of the terror by night”. And all of these encouraging messages we apply only to ourselves, but let’s turn the page where the scriptures give us a “What if scenario”.   
Genesis 1820 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
The “world” has literally “ended” quite a few times in history. During the time of Noah and the flood, the tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, even Pearl Harbor and 9-11. These are patterns of human behavior that have required an intervention. In this scenario, God has “come down”, to make an assessment of what is really going on in Sodom and Gomorrah. He is responding to “the outcry against it”. What is that outcry, and who are those who are speaking out against the behavior of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? Obviously and it would seem that there is a “group” of concerned citizens (of the kingdom), who after doing what they could, have prayed for this people. Did they build churches in the community; did they take a stand against unjust practices of those who were in leadership? Did they create strong family relationships and then extend that hospitably to their neighbors?  I think this where the statement applies “When we have done all we can do…..”
22 And Abraham came near and said: “Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? “What If there were fifty righteous within the city; would you also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
What if, indeed? Now we know the end of this conversation, it’s almost a bidding war between Abraham and God. If not fifty how about forty-five? Forty-five, do I hear thirty five? Thirty-five, okay twenty, twenty, I’ll take ten; ten righteous people and the city will be spared; sold. But in the end, only one person, Lot with a seeming vacillating testimony was spared. Not even his wife, nor his children who lived were spared. But why Lot? They were commanded in their fleeing not to look “back”, but I think that even before this, Lot may have “turned away” from his neighbors. He had no influence on them by his own life, even to save any of their lives. The story seems to paint a picture of everyone in the city as being a “bad” person except for Lot. What good is having an appearance of “personal righteousness” if we can’t impart some of that to others. Again this is where we apply those verses: be strong in the lord and the power of his might, be not afraid of the terror by night. We live in some “bad” neighborhoods, even those in the best neighborhoods. It is an act of great faith for most of us to just open our doors and go outside.  We live in the neighborhood of this world, and it’s a little scary.  Sometimes we have to do scary things, but know that God is for us.

So I asked my own “what if”, I asked what can I do? Who can I serve, even in my own reticence, and somewhat social awkwardness? I petitioned that I don’t bake very well, so no cookies. And I am not very handy, but I take direction well. I don’t want to see a “train wreck” and not do something about it. So the Lord heard my “outcry”. “Start where you are” in My household he said. Help those who are needy there, and then fan out into the world the Lord said. There are many members of our wards who are in danger, even one Sunday away from not coming back. Many just need a small helping hand.
Ephesians 5:13-14But everything exposed by light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. 14 So it is said: "Wake up O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ shall shine on you.  

So what did I do today? I drove a member of my ward to the hospital today before I went to work. It was a twofold lesson. I was able to wake before the clock went off, prepare for my day and then prepare to help this person in her day. No doubt she was anxious, maybe afraid, but you can’t know these things unless one’s heart is softened. As we are strengthened, we can help strengthen others, even those not of our faith. In the end it does take a village…  

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