Friday, August 26, 2016

Why My Father Never Liked My Birthday!

I know that title sounds terrible, but I can assure you it’s not as bad as it sounds.  You see, my father was a public school teacher.  Early on, when the family was young and his salary was on the lower end of the spectrum, he would work summer jobs like driving a bus for a local day camp.  Later on, however, he would use his summers to do projects around the house and spend time with the family.  I believe he really enjoyed his summers.  But as any school teacher can understand, when the last week of August came, his mind would switch to preparing himself for going back to school and starting the new school year.  Well, that is exactly when my birthday came: August 25th (yes, that was yesterday!). 

It wasn’t that my dad wasn’t glad that I was born. It was just that my birthday became the signal that the new school year was about to start.  My birthday brought about a shift in his mind—i.e. the end of the summer had arrived and it was time to get back to the classroom!  Thus, in a half-joking way he would almost always comment, “Oh, no! Tim’s birthday is here!”  I understood.  My feelings were never hurt, for it was true not only for him, but for all of us as a family. My birthday was the signal that the last week of summer had arrived and in a very short time we were all going back to school!

Throughout our lives we receive hints, signs, signals—whatever word you want to use—of the changes that are coming.  As we see our children grow we begin to realize their independence is on its way.  As we see our parents age we realize that soon they will need us more than ever before.  We look in the mirror and realize that we are about to embark on a new season of life.  Seasons pass, birthdays come and go, friends move away, loved ones pass from this life to the next, and we are reminded us that life is not stagnant.  We are always moving from one season into the next.  Change is always around the corner.

And the challenge for each of us, as we see the signals that life sends our way, is to determine that we will not become angry or bitter or afraid, but rather move ahead filled with faith in God, continuing in the hope we have received through Christ, and filled with love for others.  We must continue to trust God, knowing that he will be with us and take care of us in every season of our lives. 

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 – NIV) 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Hike That Was Not!

I haven’t written this Pastor’s Devotion blog for a couple of weeks since I was away on vacation with Kim and the family.  As we do each summer, we spent our time with Kim’s parents at “the cabin” on Lake Pleasant in the Adirondack Mountains.  Thankfully, our “kids” were able to come and spend at least part of the time with us, doing the things that they look forward to doing while there—e.g. wakeboarding, sailing, swimming, hiking, etc. 

One morning last week, we decided to do a hike we had not done before.  Rather than climb one of the mountains, we thought it would be nice to hike from one set of waterfalls to another along the Sacandaga River as was written up in a pamphlet listing various hikes in the region.  All began as planned as we drove to the trailhead, found the first set of falls and then began on the trail that would lead to the second set of falls.  However, in less than a quarter of a mile the trail led us up to the main road and stopped. We realized that the bulk of the rest of the “hike” (about 2 ½ miles) would be on the road.  Not wanting to spend our time walking along a road, we turned around quite disappointed. It became the hike that was not!

But, rather than give up and go back home, we decided to explore the river a bit heading in the other direction.  And, what we came upon was unbelievably beautiful! We discovered a section of the river that was naturally dammed up, creating a large swimming area of gently flowing water.  Thus, rather than hiking through the woods, we spent the next couple of hours swimming in one of the clearest and most beautiful pools of water.  The hike that was not had led us to one of the most incredible finds we have made in over thirty years of exploring the Adirondacks. 

It’s true that, often life brings to us some great disappointments.  Our plans lead us to dead ends; our expectations go unmet; our hearts sink as we realize life is not turning out the way we thought it would. Yet, many times those same disappointments can lead to some of life’s greatest discoveries, as God steps in and reveals to us that which we would not have otherwise known.  It is often in those times of disappointment that we come to know God in ways that we did not know him before and journey in directions that we might not have otherwise travelled.  It is often through life’s disappointments that the plans and purposes of God unfold in our lives revealing some incredible discoveries along the way. 

The Bible says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 – NLT)

As we did on our hike that was not, I trust that you will discover some unexpected and beautiful pools of God’s blessing in the midst of the disappointments of your life.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris