"Seek the Lord and his strength..."
"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually."
It was almost exactly five years ago that Patti and I finished our nine months "on the road" and began our trek back to the east coast to begin our new jobs. She had just finished working nine months as a "travel nurse" at a couple of different hospitals while I took a sabbatical to write my book. We began our journey home from Oregon by way of the state of Washington. I took the picture above from the Visitor's Center at Mount St. Helens. The black and white smoke contains the ashes and steam that continue to arise from this active volcano. In 1980 the 12,000 ft. volcano erupted, blowing off about 4,000 ft., roughly a chunk of debris about the size of Spruce Knob, the highest mountain in West Virginia. Below is the 8,000 ft. that's left of Mt. St. Helens.
The picture of the smoldering crater hangs on my office wall along with several others. Sometimes folks comment on the photos, and I tell them it's my "Spirit Wall." The photos depict the moments I have stood in various places and felt the presence of God's Holy Spirit saying, "I AM." I look at the photos from time to time and, "Seek the Lord and his strength..." I feel His presence.
Yesterday I was wandering through a large store, killing time while Patti was "shopping." I realized the music coming over the store's system was basically an "elevator music version" of popular contemporary Christian music and older hymns. Just about the same time I rounded the corner and saw about a fourteen inch print of a cross covered in pink leopard-skin print. "Yuck," I thought to myself. "This whole music and cross thing is awful." Then I heard the Spirit say again, "I AM," in a slightly different way. I heard God confronting me about my "ism." You know what I mean, it wasn't racism, or sexism, but it was certainly some sort of "ism." I can feel God on a mountaintop or some other awesome place. I wasn't feeling that same sort of presence with elevator music and a pink leopard-skin print cross -- but someone else might have been...
I think our "isms" must live right on the tip of our tongues because it sure doesn't take much to hear ourselves voice them. I need to experience the strength of the Lord that comes from knowing divine presence. I don't expect I'll ever experience it through a pink leopard-skin print cross - but who knows? Seek the Lord's presence, but don't ever limit the possibilities for how God will reveal divine love. After all, how outrageous is it to find love on cross in the first place?
I pray that God will continue to give me his strength through his presence -- in whatever form that might take (but I'd still rather it be a majestic mountain instead of elevator music and pink leopard-skin print.) I also pray that God will help me control my "isms" before they have the chance to hurt another. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
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