“The Lord is my banner.”
by John Everett Millais
“Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest;
humility grows when we refuse to be prideful;
and endurance develops every time you reject the
temptation to give up.”
~ Rick Warren
Giving up. Ever felt like that? Ever felt like things were just pointless and beyond your reach of ever changing? I’m sure we all have.
I am reminded daily by a wise friend who told me that we have to set our minds on the things of eternity. THAT is our main purpose in life. To keep people from slipping away from God. To be the one who reaches out and says, “ come on, I’ll help you get where you need to go.”
In this painting we see Moses in the middle with Aaron and Hur on either side holding up his arms. The Israelites were being attacked by the Amalekites and Moses told Joshua to take some of his men to fight the enemy. Moses told Joshua that while they were fighting the battle he would stand on the hilltop with the staff of God in his hands.
Moses was 80 years old when this was taking place. I am sure he was feeling his age in his bones and his physical condition was probably not as healthy as one of a 50 year old. I imagine he was worn out and tired from all the work he had been doing. His brother, Aaron, was 83! I am not sure how old Hur was but it took the two of them to hold Moses up so he could accomplish what God had called him to do.
(Holding up hands is symbol of appeal to God for help and enablement.)
Moses knew that Joshua needed the Lord by his side in order to defeat the enemy and Moses was determined to stay there until the enemy was defeated. He didn’t do it alone-he had help.
We all need help no matter what our age is. 5, 15, 30, 50 or 80. No one can do it alone.
Here are the facts: This year our church grew by planting another site. When the planting took place a team of people agreed to commit to building up the new site for two years. No one had ever done this before so we were all in uncharted territory.
Being human it is hard to let go and let God. It’s like sending your child off to preschool for the first time and they cry all the way there. They cry even harder when you start to leave and you turn around to go back to get them. You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway and it only makes matters worse. This goes on for days and even weeks. I know, I’ve lived it! The pain of separation is very real and it hurts because as a child, we don’t know if our parent is going to come back or not. “I’ve been left with a bunch of strangers…Mommmmmmmyyyyy come back!!!!!!” But you know you have to let them go, otherwise how will they grow and learn if you don’t? So you turn and wave and say, “ I’ll be back in a little while! “
Well, this is how this new plant has been for many people. It just plain hurts. People miss people and things are just different. Another part of being human is not liking change. I know that if I were a Pastor and I was moved around every few years, because someone else wanted me to, I wouldn’t like it one bit. I would be away from my family and the people who have nurtured me, prayed for me and loved me. We are very, very blessed to have had our Pastors as long as we have. And at the same time, when a new Pastor comes in it is hard for a congregation to get adjusted to that also.
The congregation has changed in age also. I didn’t realize just how much until this past week. I have been brought to my knees over my own selfishness and lack of understanding of what other people are going through. Why didn’t I see it sooner? Because my eyes have been focused on other things.
A plea was sent out over email for help decorating the church for Christmas. I called to see what I could do and I was told that the congregation was now “old” and that they couldn’t do certain things without the young people. I saw that first hand this week. So, the girls and I went by the church and took all of the Christmas decorations down out of the attic. I was shocked at how heavy things were and how much there was to get down. As I stood in the middle of the attic floor trying to haul a gigantic boxed tree down the stairs I thought to myself, “ What are we doing? Are we so busy with our lives, families, jobs and the new site that we have become blinded to the needs of the people who have supported, mentored, grown and stretched us that we cannot offer our help? SHAME ON ME.” My kids were even complaining about how heavy things were and we expect people who are in their upper 60’s to 80’s to do this alone?
What in the world are we doing? These folks have sweated and slaved over making meals for fundraisers to send people on mission trips, myself included. They have spent hours on their knees praying for our families and our children. They have given their money and lives to building up the church by being there for the community and for each one of us. They were there when we needed them.
It’s like they have been abandoned. I don’t think any one of us ever gave that a thought. I know I didn’t. In the excitement of doing something new I never, ever stopped to consider what our leaving would do to the church. I was selfish.
Now it is time to be unselfish like Aaron and Hur. It is time to look out for the Moses’ of the church. ( sorry folks-I write that as a compliment- I really do!) They need us to be the Aaron and the Hur in the picture. They need us to hold their arms like Moses held his up. They need us to help them do things. All the things we used to do are now being done by them and they can’t physically do it. Did I even consider those things? No. I could kick myself.
Folks, God has given us time to get things right with each other. What are we doing? Are we going to continue to waste time fussing or are we going to spend our time doing what Jesus would do? He builds bridges that reach new destinations. He brings people together, not pull them apart. He helps the weary carry their burdens and he heals the lame so they can run and tell people about Him!
In my mind I can see the bridge has already been built between the two sites- the Moses’ are mentoring the Joshua’s and the children are lined across the bridge on both sides, arms linked in love, singing to their Daddy. I see the Sarah’s and Elizabeth’s with the Mary’s and Martha’s and when I look down I see the bloody footprint of where Jesus has already walked. He’s been there already-the bridge is made of rough hewn wood and stained with blood.
My heart is so heavy for my church family. The old family AND the new family. We have to work harder to join the two. We have to communicate better and join hands on the bridge. We have to meld the new family with the old and become like a big old pot of hot juicy vegetable beef stew! When all the different ingredients come together it is “oh so delicious! “ Yummy! The ingredients from both sites are amazing and each one is unique! When the stew is ready then we can feed others!
Can you imagine the impact we can have on Carroll County when we call on Almighty God, as ONE family and join Moses, Aaron, and Hur in holding up the banner of the Lord over the County?
We all need each other. Not just the Methodists, but the Baptist’s, the Presbyterian’s, the Pentecostal, the Brethren, the non denominational and the list goes on. We are all here to help people cross that bridge from death to life and TOGETHER we can do it. So, let’s start being who God made us to be and just do it. Put that selfish pride away and grab a hand in need today. You never know-the hand that you grab might just be the one that saves YOU!
It did me.