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Into the wind…

4June2012

Got some much-needed exercise this weekend as the Mrs. and I took out our bicycles and did a little riding around the area. For those of you who are serious work-out types, our treks of twelve miles on Saturday and five miles on Sunday are hardly big news. But for me, whose major exercise lately has consisted of walking the forty yards from the parsonage to the church twice a day, this was significant. I expected to be sore in some new places after all that exertion, but I’m happy to report that is not the case. Quite the opposite. The body held up just fine, and I am encouraged to get out and ride a bit more.

What makes this experience even more gratifying is that it was a windy weekend in these parts. Both days we enjoyed a steady 25mph wind from the WNW…which meant that half of our rides on both days were right into the wind. That was harder physical work than I’ve done for a while.

But, by golly, it was good.

I don’t imagine I’m alone in this: There are plenty of times when I wish my life were “easier” than it is. I’m not exactly sure what “easy” means in this context, but can imagine that it means less work hours, less stress from juggling a lot of responsibilities, perennially cordial relationships with those around me…you get the idea. And there’s that idyllic, almost Eden-esque notion in my head of retiring to a cabin in the woods next to a lake where reading, fishing, and nice long walks with the Mrs. would fill our days. Hint to the kids: Regular visits from children and future grandchildren would also be welcome. Ahh…

It’s a beautiful picture, but it seems to assume that the stresses of our life are to be avoided…that the things which push against us are not good for us. The headwinds of this past weekend, however, tell a different story. And what is true for our work and our relationships and our physical being is also true for our faith.

Is it hard to believe some days? Of course, it is. Do we sometimes cry out to God and not hear an answer…or at least, not the answer we want? Certainly. Does it seem at times that the evil around and within us is about to overwhelm us. Without a doubt. But times of disappointment and doubt do not define the whole of our faith. And they certainly don’t limit God’s ability to save and sustain us.

I’ve always loved the ending of Matthew’s Gospel…those final words of commissioning and sending that Christ delivers to his disciples. Remember: this was not a stellar crew to whom he was handing off the mission. They were folks of little faith and even less training who, though they might fall in worship before the risen Christ, doubted that any of this was real. And yet, Jesus hands them the baton, turns them loose upon the world, and promises never to abandon them. So the disciples go and teach and tell and baptize, leaning into the headwinds of their own fears and the animosity or apathy of the world around them. And Christ is, indeed, with them, being their strength to meet the challenges they face.

Our situation, both as Church and as individuals, is not much different really. Still we doubt. Still we wish for something easier. Still we often hesitate in the face of challenge. But, sisters and brothers, still God is with us. And still we are given by grace the strength and courage we need to grow stronger. “Lo, I am with you always” is promise enough to lean into the wind. And it’s a promise that is made to us.

DLN@CCD

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