given on Sunday, August 11, 2013
Scripture reference: Psalm 118
A Day without God?
These cooler, rainy summer days are a farmer’s dream come true and I am thankful for that; but for me, now a city dweller, I do not rally well for these days. Therefore, when I knew I had a window of opportunity for a trip to Powell Garden on Wednesday, I took it—along with my granddaughter and her mom.
The sun came out, the humidity shot up, and off we went. The enthusiasm that Aidan had for the visit was contagious despite the humidity. She took off and found the Lego sculptures much to her delight. But to my delight, she also remembered the visit from last year. And I also took delight that her mom remembered the visit the summer after she was born and where we took pictures then.
But, all of these special moments were overpowered when we stepped into the butterfly displays! The squeals of delight from both of them and, yes, me too, were pure music to the ears. The flowers were full of butterflies. The colors, the aromas, the flights of the butterflies, the closeness to them made the day God-filled.
Then I began to wonder at how many might miss such a day if they did not have God in their lives. The question developed: What would a day without God be like? The words that surfaced in my head echoed—“This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ironically I learned that because Rev. Longstreth began every service with that proclamation, and I have used it repeatedly, too.
How could anybody not rejoice in a day like mine? How come I see it as one to glad in while others do nothing but complain, whine, grumble and even worse? There the question was again: What would a day without God be like?
Finding that answer is really easy if you watch the news and see it through human eyes. Our lives are filled with so much negative stuff that it is easy to understand why people give up, turn away from God and strike out against others.
The daily news lists infractions of the Ten Commandments constantly. I hate to think how many shootings there were this week. There was envy of another’s wife resulting in the burning of a home, killing, and abduction in California. The scare tactics of the Taliban froze up many in African and the Saudi Peninsula area. Add in all the natural disasters that Americans faced during the week—fires and floods.
Sadly it is too easy to find the negative in life rather than the positives. I think that seeing the negative first is seeing the world without God in it. Do you agree? What would it be like if we did not have God in our lives?
Waking up in the morning without God would be like looking through the morning fog seeing only the fog, not the way it dances and moves in the breeze. Looking at the morning without God is seeing the bags of trash still lining the street’s curb, and not trusting the workers to fill their mission of picking it up.
That is one of the special gifts I witnessed this summer. The trash truck roars up early, sometimes about 6:30 am, and announces that it is taking care of my trash. Whew! That is a gift of service if ever there is one, but this summer I witnessed something special about these workers.
Our neighbors typically put their trash out at night, but they leave it by the garage door, not on the curb. One of the reasons is their physical health and moving the trash bin is tough. But to the glory of God, I now know that the trash haulers are serving as God’s hands for my neighbors. He jumps off the back of the truck and runs down the driveway, grabs the trash barrel, runs it back up the driveway, dumps it and runs it back to the original spot, even bending down to retrieve the lid and secure it. Not once does he do this, but he does it each and every Thursday morning.
I wonder if he sees his service as his purpose in life? I wonder if he has any idea that he is the arms and the legs of God for this couple? I wonder if he knows that a prayer of thanks goes up each time I see his work on these mornings. I certainly see God in him.
But back to the day without God: What would it really be like? Think about all the restaurants that open up for the morning rush. What if the servers were not seeing a purpose in their roles? What if the cooks did not know that their care in preparing the meals did not matter? What if they decided to cave in to a little prodding by the devil?
Mornings set your tone for the day, and if those who greet you are surly and grumpy, they have the potential of destroying your own outlook for the day. Those who sit down for a morning cup of coffee at the local diner or even at their own breakfast table look for the gifts or that first sip of coffee—or tea. God is there in the very choice of our morning drinks, in the foods that we eat, and in the hands and faces of those serving the food.
BJ sent an email story out this week that reminds me that even in the rush of a fast food breakfast, lunch, or supper, God is there. The story of how a woman decided to pay it forward simply warmed my heart. Not only was it a reminder that the workers prepared the meals, but it is the customer who sometimes reaches out to share God’s love—and care—to those who struggle to live despite the poverty that traps them.
The story shared that while in a busy line at a local McDonald’s the crowd suddenly quieted and stepped back to give space to these two apparently homeless individuals seeking to find enough change in their pockets to buy just a simple cup of coffee so they could step inside and warm up.
The woman, even with her family stepping back, stayed in her spot and saw God’s children in need. She was looking at the world through God’s eyes and knew these men’s story without asking a word. She simply stepped up to the counter, placed her order, and added two more breakfast platters for the men.
The story shares how living in a world with God can make a difference. For those living in a world without God, stepping back and avoiding the problem was the answer. To the glory of God, though, the woman, with her entire family witnessing her actions, acted as a savior to these men. She witnessed her faith right there in McD’s for the glory of God.
What would the story have been had she, too, stepped back? What would the story of God be if the trash man failed to pick up the trash? What would the world be without God? What would your life be without God?
Psalm 118 draws a picture of life in God’s world. Verse 8 & 9 state:
It is better take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
That is difficult to do because we know that God asked us to be his hands and feet here on earth. We are to serve, not just in 2013 but throughout our lives, one another in love. Whatever we do, we do to for the glory of God.
We must fulfill the role of God’s servant to the very best of our ability. We have lives in which God is evident and others know this about us; but if we do not serve one another in love, what will happen?
I really do not think it is hard to see what will happen because it is being videotaped and shared all over the world. Maybe it is time for the tech savvy to videotape the world through God’s eyes and share it. For those of us who are not tech savvy, we must learn how best we can share God’s story.
Maybe it is a phone call to someone you know. Maybe it is carrying a sack of clothes to he Salvation Army or Goodwill or another similar agency. Maybe the years of doing are challenging today, so God acts in other ways—contributions, phone calls, written messages, and the list grows.
The key, though, is to wake up each morning and know that it is a day that God has made. Accept the day joyfully, and be glad in it. You have a story to tell, tell it. You have a card to mail, mail it. You have a song to sing, sing it. You witness God’s love in action, thank the giver and thank God because all of it is done to the glory of God.
Dear Loving Father,
Thank you for the beauty of the day,
for the butterflies, the rain, and the sun.
Thank you for the work of the trash men,
the cooks and the servers.
Thank you for the eyes to see all the God-actions
in all the workers in our world.
Thank you for the gifts you give us
in all the different ways that you do,
for all of your children.
Guide us in seeing the world through your eyes.
Guide us in serving as your hands and feet.
Guide us in rejoicing in your world.
Guide us in loving one another
so they, too, may see the power of your love. –Amen