Pastoral Reflections Rev. Mark Keefer, pastor, Garwin United Methodist Church Garwin, Iowa
September 14, 2012
Walking in The Word I had always been a good church-going type of fellow. My parents were faithful in raising me in church – Sunday School, Summer Bible Camps, you name it. When I departed high school and went on my merry independent way, church attendance grew a little slack, but that was okay, because I had been trained well and I was a good person. God understood that a well-rested body was necessary to get through the week. Right? Those Saturday nights could take a toll on a body, and what better day to sleep in than Sunday? I had all kinds of rationalizations. And after all, I was a good person. Time went by, and I was seeing less and less of Sunday worship. However, when I became a parent I decided to follow my parents’ example and return to regular attendance. I heard messages from competent preachers, and more than that, my daughters were getting good lessons from Sunday School. Things would be okay now, right? But there seemed to be something missing. I found myself in nothing more than a routine of showing up on Sundays. Then something happened. Call it a God-directed nudge. Call it what you will, but I thought about this Bible that was being preached from (Sorry Mrs. Swanson about the dangling preposition.) I wondered if personal reading from it could have any additional advantages for me and my life. I am a vocalist, and understanding Psalms to be a collection of ancient songs, I started to read them on a daily basis. There’s not a bad one in the bunch. But we all have our favorite verses, and one that sticks with me a great deal comes from the 119th Psalm – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (As a quick aside, if Psalms are songs, the 119th one is an opera! Good grief, it is the longest of all the Psalms at 176 verses!) After Psalms, I got into Proverbs, and what an interesting coincidence, there are 31 chapters – basically one for every day of the month. What a delight to know that, even if I haven’t read my Bible for a while, I can look at the date on the calendar, turn to that chapter in Proverbs, and Divine Wisdom and direction will be readily accessible for me. I discovered a remarkable thing. (Actually, it seems rather silly to say I had discovered something that has been around for not merely centuries, but millennia!) When difficult challenges lay before me, and solutions seemed few and far between, immersing myself in a daily dose of Bible reading and study – even if for only a few verses – seemed to take my exasperations from confusion to clarity. Well, maybe not always clarity, but certainly to calmness and confidence – and definitely assurance that I was not alone in seeking solutions. In the 119th Psalm, the psalmist has spent the first 104 verses praising the wisdom of God. And it is really much more than the praising of God and the knowledge of His wisdom. It is a proclamation that living in His Word brings us closer to Him. Then comes the 105th verse that tells me apart from His Word, I can only grope about in the darkness. Are you walking in daily darkness, or faithfulness? Open the book of Light, and don’t neglect the Word of God. Savor it and know that it will guide your feet. And it will enrich your Sunday worship, too. Have a blessed day, and don’t forget to worship with other seekers this Sunday.
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