A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dave's Deep Thoughts

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Sometimes, things look a lot better than they really are.

It was a beautiful spring day.
The sun was shining brightly.
There was a soft breeze moving.
It was the kind of day that would make you
wish that you were at the park or the beach.
It was a cotton candy day.

Even though it only a grocery store parking lot,
it still felt like a cotton candy day
for the 3 year old and her mother
as they approached Mr. Horsie.

Mr Horsie is strategically positioned
just outside the entrance to the grocery store,
beckoning all who seek adventure and fun
to climb onto the saddle,
for a very reasonable 50 cents.

His shiny saddle and stirrups,
along with his bright blue leather work
can't help but attract the attention
of any fun seeking child.

And so it was with this little girl
who eagerly asked her mommie
if she could ride Mr Horsie.

A wise parent,
the mother knew that it was better to ride Mr Horsie before entering the store
rather when exiting.
After all, a lot of ice cream can melt during a three minute ride.

And so, the little girl climbed into the saddle
as mommy dug into her purse for two quarters.
The little girl's face was filled with glee and happiness
as the coins clanked their way into Mr Horsie's coffers.

And then it started..........

Oh yes, Mr Horsie began to rock back and forth gently.

But it was the sound.

It was abrasive,

It appeared that Mr Horsie's spring action
was in serious need of a lube job

Every rocking motion of Mr. Horsie
created this bone chilling, scratching sound
that sounded like rusty old farm machinery
trying to get started.

Store patrons were looking to see
from where the grating noise was emanating.

Small children were covering their ears.

The look of glee fled from the little girl's face,
as she realized that her dream ride with Mr. Horsie
had turned into her worst equestrian nightmare.

Soon the tears began to flow
as mommie lifted her off the saddle.

The only problem was
Mr Horsie wasn't done.
50 cents worth after all is 50 cents worth.
Sometimes three minutes can seem like an eternity.

And sometimes, things look a lot better than they really are.

When my brother was a child,
he decided to eat an entire stick of margarine.
Take him to an IHOP to this day,
and watch his still nauseated expression
as the unmelted margarine gleams at him from atop his pancakes.

When I was a child,
I decided that gasoline smelled really good.
My mother remembers me staggering to the house in my little cowboy boots.
To this day, whenever I smell gas fumes
I vividly remember that dizziness I experienced that day.

As adults, we aren't much different.
We might realize that margarine and gasoline
are not to be ingested and inhaled,
but there are other things that entice us.

Cars with payments more than we can afford.....
Credit cards with interest laced debts that we can't repay......
Foods laden with enough calories to feed a small nation......
A drug or drink that offers escape from our problems.

Name your temptation.
Name that which looks pleasing to you at the outset,
but over time, reveals its ugly painful side.

Then look past the immediate pleasure,
and look to the one who was tempted in all things,
yet kept His gaze upon the Father

Sometimes, things look a lot better than they really are.
but with God, it's even better than you can imagine.

"For we do not have a great high priest
who cannot sympathize without weaknesses,
but One who has been tempted in all things as we are,
yet without sin.
Let us therefore draw nearer with confidence,
that we may receive mercy and may find grace
to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:15

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