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, September 20, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - When It's Too Much to Stomach

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 the band just plays on,
but sometimes, the boys just need to take a break.

It started with a rumble in the tummy.
No, not the “Feed me” rumble.
This was the “what in the heck did you feed me? rumble.

The timing was not great
You see, I was in a worship service playing the organ.

I have felt that feeling before,
but not very often.
“It will go away” I thought.

I pride myself on having an iron stomach.
I have only “lost it” 3 times since I graduated from college 37 years ago.

Most people think it strange that I 
would even know how many times I have tossed my cookies,
let alone take pride in the number.

Actually, I find it quite natural to do so.
It speaks of hardiness, fortitude, and vigor, and hopefully fresh breath.

Dieters keep track of how long they have stayed away from the chocolate cake.
Recovering alcoholics announce days, months, and years of sobriety.
            The baseball world even counts how many consecutive games a player like Cal Ripken shows up on a baseball diamond.
I just happen to keep record of my refusal to bow before the porcelain god. 

You see, I lost it on Valentine’s Day of my senior year in college, 
thus the date was easy to remember.

12 years later, I gave it up on a lovely spring day while driving on the interstate. (not recommended)
17 years after that, I returned what I thought at the time was a lovely dinner. 
After 8 more years of temperance, one of the 12 days of Christmas was not so merry to me.

And 8 years after that, there I was…….
sitting on the organ bench. with that oh so familiar feeling.

My first response has always been,
“C’mon Dave, you’re bigger than this!”

But my adversary wasn’t going away.
We were in this for all twelve rounds of the fight.

While I was playing, “Take Time to Be Holy
I was thinking of taking a different type of time out.

I fought through hymn #2,
the choir anthem,
the offertory,
another hymn.

Then came the sermon.
The pastor was challenging the congregation to battle mediocrity,
but I was in a full-fledged battle with a different enemy.

I stepped outside thinking some fresh air might help.
But my enemy mocked and taunted me.

The hot, humid air of late summer did me no good.
Nor did the smell of the garbage dumpster in the nearby parking lot.

I conceded defeat
and for the 4th time in 13,733 days.
I met my match.

There is a relief, a freedom in surrender.
As I was regaining my composure in the men’s room,
I heard the congregation begin the final hymn…….a capella

They sang well. They sang strong.
The opening stanza rang out like a call to arms.
The text was not lost on me….

“Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.”

I rose from my posture of shame,
newly convinced that in my captivity, I had once again found freedom.
Moved to embrace that by rendering up, I was once again ready to conquer the world.

I walked into the front of the sanctuary
and joined those who I count as brothers and sisters in singing us all on to victory.

It is very easy to begin to believe that we can do it all on our own.
If we are honest with ourselves, much of the time, we live that way

How many times do we ignore a message from our bodies
because we are too busy being busy?

How many times do we not ask for help
when we really could use a hand?

Maybe we do that because we don’t want to feel like we are a burden.
Perhaps we are afraid of being turned down.
Often, we just want to feel like we are in control of everything.
And in many cases, it is simply about false pride.

Scriptures make it clear that there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
In fact, Scriptures encourage us to do so.

Our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2)
and sometimes that help comes through fellow believers.

I could have asked a fellow musician to cover for me,
but instead my pride said that I could fight it off on my own.

In Romans, Paul describes the church as a body of believers 
who are connected to one another as is the human body.

Even though we are many individuals,
Christ makes us one body
and individuals who are connected to each other. (Romans 12:5)

My connectedness to others is more important than pride.
My willingness to receive help from others
doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong.

On the day that I thought I lost something,
I was reminded that have everything that I need,
that is if I just ask.

(Thanks to a special friend who stepped in for me in my moment of need)

I also recommend staying away from the breakfast burrito bowl.

1 comment:

Brenda Wildermuth said...

How beautifully put. A delicate situation nicely turned into a nice mini-sermon.