Dear Fellow Children of God,
In 1991, at the end of the first summer that Kathy and I spent in Alaska, one of our St. John members told me, “I’m glad summer is ending and fall is arriving. Now we can finally get some sleep!” I’m not sure I totally understood what she was saying. But, a couple of months earlier than that conversation a former Alaskan pastor had shared a similar thought in different words. He expressed some frustration by saying, “The problem for me in Alaska was you have to get a whole year’s outside work done in 3 or 4 months!”
I hope you are enjoying the Alaskan summer, even though this year may have been a little cooler and wetter than recent summers. Our family has worked on the lawn, planted a garden, and grown flowers we planted this year, and cared for flowers that came up from perennials planted in past years. Our family has also done some fishing, had some family outings, watched some baseball, and been on two camping trips. We have been busy enjoying family and home activities. But, even though I have not traveled outside this year and did have time to work around the house, it does always seem like there are more chores and work to do. And consider, what about the years that I travel and can’t get everything done?
The problem with this kind of thinking is that we only depend on ourselves. We depend on our time, our energy, our efforts, and we forget the help that God always gives. Actually, for people created and loved by God, self-reliance can be an oversight, or self-reliance can simply be stubborn pride. In all of life, no matter the work, the blessings, nor the troubles, our real hope is in God who loves us.
Jesus faced this same kind of thinking in His day. In a much earlier time in human history, when people relied more on agriculture, when people relied on seasonable weather to grow enough food, and in a country which was occupied and taxed by a foreign army, the people of Jesus’ day worried about provisions for life. They worried about where they would get food, and about sufficient clothing. They worried because they relied and depended on themselves. In response, listen to what Jesus taught the people of His day in what is called “The Sermon on the Mount.”
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:25-30)
It is pretty easy to understand what Jesus is teaching. God provides! Sometimes we don’t understand how or when God gives what we need. But God provides for His people! God provides food even for the birds. God dresses beautifully even the flowers. And each of us as humans are so much more valuable to God than birds or flowers. When we worry about what we need to live, we are trusting ourselves and remembering our limitations. When we worry about what we need to live, we are forgetting about our loving Heavenly Father and as Jesus says, we have “little faith.”
Yet God speaks to us daily. Have you seen the beauty of the flowers this summer? Maybe there are flowers you have grown. Maybe you’ve noticed the beautiful Alaskan wild flowers. God is good and He does provide. I will also tell you, our garden is doing well and we have eaten radishes, spinach (a lot!), lettuce, rhubarb, and collards. God provides! He takes care of the needs we have in this life.
Actually, if you considered who is speaking the words of Matthew 6, you can see behind our earthly needs and realize God provides for us eternally. Jesus who shares these truths about God’s loving provision is God Himself! Jesus is the Son of God who came to this world, not just to teach us, but to provide for our eternal welfare. Jesus taught faith to the people of His time and provides for eternal life through His life and His death and His resurrection.
Maybe you feel overwhelmed at times by all the chores that need doing in the summer months. Maybe you worry about your needs and those of your family throughout the year. Look around you at the beauty of the earth, the wildlife and the flowers in our world. God provides, not just in this world, but through Jesus, God provides His love eternally.
A Child of God, Seeking to Trust Myself Less, and to Trust God More,
P.S. Here are some pictures of the flowers around our house this year.
P.P.S. I think I may have shared these pictures before, but here are some shots taken of our garden this year. https://goo.gl/photos/i2NUj2PfrGyGNVey8
P.P.P.S. I took Bim Hoylman fishing after Wednesday church last week, July 19. Here are some pictures of that trip. https://photos.app.goo.gl/vsSYi9d0ctsK7h8W2
P.P.P.P.S. I / we got a new dog this past weekend. Our last yellow lab, a female, was named Su (Susitna). We have named this male yellow lab Mat (Matanuska).
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.