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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - A Pippy Faith

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.

Some cowboys just go riding off into the sunset,
others prefer more glorious exits.

His name  was Pippy.
We met him on the first workday of our mission trip
a couple of years ago.

Our workgroup was assigned a roofing project on the outskirts
of Charlotte NC. Early that morning, as we were assembling our tools at the site,  
we heard the rumble of a lawn mower as it came down the lane.

We turned and saw a small dog riding in a crate attached
to the lid of the mower engine.

He sat upright at complete attention despite the roar of the mower.
He could not have been more proud if he had been the grand marshal of the Rose Parade.

As if it were a Pavlovian bell, the sound of the engine turning off
prompted the little guy to hop out and make his introductions
to everyone in the group.

It only took a couple of licks on the hand and a few playful barks 
for Pippy to win the hearts of everyone.

It took only a few minutes longer for Pippy to be voted  group mascot
and despite the complaints of the head human,  
general contractor of the work project.

I would like to think that Pippy loved us out of an
altruistic love for mankind, but truth be told,
I think Pippy just knew where he could get a free meal, treats, and a lot of attention.

Throughout the day, someone was always giving him a snack
or a piece of their sandwich, or playing fetch with him.

But the feeling of joy was mutual.
Pippy made it a little easier for us to lift supplies onto the roof,
to keep working despite the hot sun, and to smile when we were feeling exhausted.

Without us realizing it, we had all been Pippinized.

Each morning of the work week, shortly after our arrival at the worksite,
Pippy would make his grand entrance upon his motorcade.
But one morning,  Pippy did not ride in on his lawn mower chariot.

Everyone in the workgroup wondered and worried 
about what had happened to our canine captain.

Shortly before lunch break, our furry little fearless leader
came prancing down the driveway.
You simply have to respect a boss that considers the lunch hour
to be the most important hour of the day.

On the final day of our week at the worksite,
everyone felt disconsolate about saying goodbye to Pippy.

In five days, the little fur ball had transformed our work project
into a full blown celebration of everything that is good about life and metal roofing.

The moment that we all dreaded came in late afternoon of day five.
Each group member gave their final hugs to the canine commander-in-chief.

Before it could turn into a full blown cry session,
Pippy scurried to his kingly throne atop his John Deere tractor,
and as if to signal his chauffeur, gave one final bark command.

The princely pooch nodded his approval as his driver started the engine
and he began to exit from our lives. It was then that His Majesty hit a bump……..

The chariot hit a bump in the road, and before you could say ”Hail Prince Pippy”  three times, the little fur ball of friendship launched headfirst over the hood.

Now I do not have much admiration for cats, but in this case,
I am sure that a feline would have landed on all fours.

Not so much with Pippy.

The little tyke did a somersault and a reverse pike with a twist but did not stick the landing. He did meet the ground however, snout first.

It is not often when monarch and mishap meet.
Maybe a crooked crown on occasion, but a full blown face plant?
Not so much.

To his credit, Prince Pippy dusted himself off,
hopped back on his mobile throne, held his bruised snout up high,
and rode off into the sunset with his joy fully intact.

What do I do when I hit a bump in the road?
Life is very much like a road, filled with bumps, some little and some big.

What is more important than the bump itself, is how we navigate through it.
Jesus instructed that we should not think it strange when we encounter temptations.
We will have trials and just like valleys, they will end and we will  move on to mountaintops. But  eventually, we will encounter more valleys and mountaintops.

We have a choice, we can stop along the way and take in the fresh air,
or we can grit our teeth and see only the obstacles rather than the opportunities that God has for us.

Much of it is about perspective.

Do we see life’s road as a journey to enjoy and to grow from?
Or is it merely a pathway of problems.

There is no doubt, we will hit those bumps in our road,
but God’s promise to us is that the road will eventually level,
and His greatest promise is that the final destination is seeing Jesus.

And there is simply no bump in the road greater than that blessing.

If the little fur ball can do it, so can I, and so can you.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all 
comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
                                                                                                Phillipians 4:6-7

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