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, February 25, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Never too Cold to Serve

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.

No man is an island.
But what if you are the last man standing?

It has been a brutal winter.

Since the holidays,
we have seen only 4 days with temperatures above freezing.
We have set record sub-zero lows on 8 days,.

How cold has it been you ask???

It has been so cold……
that students have had days off school not because of snow,
but because of  temperature.

It has been so cold……
that my dogs have turned my pool into a canine playpen.

It has been so cold……
that I canceled a ski trip because it was too cold.

It has been so cold……
that an outdoorsman decided 
to climb Niagara Falls   (successfully)

It has been so cold……
that a sunny day in the 20’s without gusting winds
felt so balmy that it caused me to drive with my windows down.

It has been so cold……
that when I opened my freezer in the garage,
it felt warm.

It has been so cold……
that my wood pellet stove running non-stop,
has cried uncle.

It has been so cold……
that I saw a youngster riding his bike
on the local lake.

Each day I drive by a local pond
that is a popular hangout for the ducks.

Each day I shiver as I watch 
hundreds of mallards swimming in the artic water.

And each day since the holidays,
I have watched the ice edge, like a glacier
progress steadily across the surface.

Each day, less room for the ducks to swim,
more room to skate.

Finally, during the most brutal days,
the ice overtook the springhead of the pond.
All that remained was one small hole.

One small hole big enough
for only one duck to go for a dip.

And there he/she floated…..
while hundreds of the brethren sunbathed on the ice.

I wasn’t sure  if this was privilege as being monarch of the mallards,
or it was a time-out chair for a disobedient duck.

I wondered why would any creature put itself in such a position?
Especially when they were so many others that could have taken the plunge.
I got my answer that night when I was curled up on the sofa 
under a blanket in front of the fire.

That was when one of my dogs came up to the sofa
and dropped his ball onto my blanket.
And then he sat there with eyes imploring me to do the unthinkable.

The thermometer said “minus two.”
The howling wind said ”I dare you.”
My dog said “please.”

2 sweatshirts, 1 ski pants, 2 thermal gloves, 1 facemask,
2 beanie hats, 3 layers of socks and 1 space age winter jacket later,
I was on the front lawn playing fetch with the boys.

They were having a blast.
Meanwhile, I was getting blasted.

And then I saw my salvation……
The clothes dryer was running inside the house.
Between tosses, I nestled myself up against the house
where the dryer vent was releasing lifesaving heat.

It was in that moment of pitiful desperation,
that I realized I was the one duck in the water.

What makes people do extreme things for others?
The answer in a word,  love.

What do you do when you are the last man standing?

Someone needs a ride just as you are calling it a day.
Someone needs  some help to cover their monthly bills.
Someone needs a place to stay and you have an extra bedroom.
Someone needs……..and you can help.
Last man standing

I don’t completely understand the warm blooded duck floating in the icy water thing.
But I do understand being the last man standing for someone who is desperate.
And I know God understands completely.

There was nothing to be personally gained  by God in journeying to the cross,
except to love those whom He created.
And He chose to do it.

And when we choose to love by reaching out to another,
especially when it costs us,
then we become the last man standing for that person,
and we fulfill the law of Christ.

And God finds the strangest ways to warm our hearts, and our blood.
Who knew, a dryer vent!

Now would someone get that poor duck a blankie????

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him,
how does God’s love abide in him.?
Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
                                                                           I John 3:17-18

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