Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving, Snow, and a Full House

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Today it is snowing. Last night the last of our kids came home for the holiday—including Jonathan’s fiancĂ©e, Dani.  So, here we are with a full house, watching it snow, awaiting the start of our Thanksgiving celebrations.  Today, there will be some baking, maybe some board games played, and most likely some snow removed.  Earlier this morning I put on some extra coffee.  For lunch I think I made about a dozen quesadillas.  Tonight’s dinner will include a bit more pasta than Kim and I would normally make for just the two of us.  Oh, did I mention that tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day?

In the midst of all the busyness and excitement of our home and the holiday—and the snow—I want to be careful not to lose sight of the purpose of the day we are about to celebrate.  So, let me list a few things that come to mind as I reflect upon this past year. 

1.   I am grateful for my wife Kim and my three children.  Each one of them is an incredible blessing in my life.  Although it is hard, it is also a joy to see each of my children growing into adulthood, even to the point that now one of them is engaged! (And, we are all very excited to have Dani as the “new addition” to the family!)

2.   I am grateful that, although this has been a very challenging year, to say the least, God has given us grace and strength.  With the sudden illness of my dad last winter, his death in May, and the special care my mom has needed, I/we have had our share of sorrow and pain. But, God has been faithful and gracious to help us through each moment of difficulty and pain. He has truly been our “Good Shepherd.”    

3.    I am grateful for God’s provision throughout this past year.  Although at times I may worry about finances, God has provided for us. My family has had food, shelter, and clothing. Every need has been met, and maybe even a little bit more. 

4.     I am grateful for the people God has placed in my life. This includes my extended family—brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews, parents, and in-laws—and special friends. Each one of them has been a blessing in my life in different ways. Each one has walked with me through the valleys of my life this past year. I’m blessed to have them as part of my life.    

5.     I am grateful for the privilege of serving God in the role and capacities to which he has called me.  I know I don’t deserve to serve in this way, but God, in his grace and mercy, has allowed me to continue to do so.

Well, the list could go on, but by now you are probably getting tired of reading. So, I’ll just stop there.  However, I didn’t want my opportunity to give thanks to God in this way, pass by in the midst of Thanksgiving, snow, and a full house!

Have a great day and a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Pastor Tim Harris


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Worth The Wait

As I was writing this devotion last week as I was on my way to Nicaragua to take care of some of our church's missions work there, including visiting the children we support, their families, our staff, and church family.  I left NYC out of LaGuardia early Tuesday morning. Within a few hours I once again found myself waiting for my next flight in the Miami airport.  In fact, that's the problem with flying; not only does one have to calculate the air time to get from one place to another, but as well the many hours spent waiting to board the airplane; waiting between flights; waiting on the runway.  Yes, flying is the fastest way to travel long distances. But, just think how much faster it could be without all the waiting. (And, that's considering that your flights are on time!) 

Of course, waiting is a huge part of our lives. Whether we are doing our grocery shopping, commuting to work, or going to a baseball game, we find ourselves waiting on some sort of line.  Hopeful college students send out their college applications, those looking for employment send out their resumes, the bride and groom-to-be send out their wedding invitations, and each one awaits a response.  And now that the holiday season is upon us, many of us are waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years Eve; waiting for special church service, the decorations, family gatherings, delicious meals, the exchange of gifts, etc. 

Waiting is not easy, especially for those of us who are part of a get-it-now, microwave-society. Patience may be a virtue, but it is often hard to come by while standing on line to check out your groceries or sitting in the car just hoping that you will make it through the toll booth soon and not be late for work.  But, maybe some of this waiting is good for us.

For one, it definitely slows us down a bit, giving us a chance to catch our breath in the midst of a hurried world. As well, waiting can give us time to assess our lives and what it is that is important to us (after all, some things are worth the wait and others are not). Most of all, waiting may be God's way of helping us learn how to live in the present while yet anticipating and looking forward to the wonderful future he is presently preparing for his people. After all, as God's people living in this very temporary and sin-filled world, our whole life and faith is built around waiting for the day when our Savior will return and bring into being the kind of world that God has purposed in his heart from before the beginning of time. 

The Apostle Paul wrote, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ...."  (Philippians 3:20 - NIV). The Psalmist wrote, "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."  (Psalms 33:20 - NIV)

So today, while you are standing on line at the supermarket, sitting in your car waiting for the one in front of you to move, or waiting for that college or company to get back to you, take some time to slow down, lean forward, and begin to look forward to what God has promised you upon his return.  Some day, we will look back and realize, all he has promised was well worth the wait!

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris