One of the things I always remember about my early childhood is how much my dad liked taking the family down to Walk Disney World. I still remember my first time at the park as a young child, it seemed like heaven, moving from one magical ride to another. It was neat to see all these cool things and to see how happy all the family was. I was almost giddy asking my dad what we were going to do next after each ride. Each ride and each experience seemed to build off each other and in the end it was a very magical experience that I will always remember.
This week we talked about transitions, moving from one phase of life to another. It is a great week to talk about this because it is the first week of school. All the kids we know are heading back to school and beginning a new phase of their lives whether it be 4k or their senior year. It will be packed with memories and experiences. One of the things that is common for this time of year is nerviousness. The kids don't know what their new normal is going to look like and so the first days of school can seem very scary to them. I think that is a good metaphor for our lives. Going back to school is a transition time. It is a new beginning while at the same time acknowledging that the last year is gone. All of our lives are made of transitions like being singled to being married; from starting a job, to leaving a job; or living with your parents to owning your own place. If we are honest with ourselves, transitions can be very scary though because we don't know what the new normal will look like. We don't know what is going to happen next which causes our anxiety to peak. In this sense many of us tend to dread transitions. But what would happen knowing that God is with us, if we started to ask with enthusiasm "What is Next?" How would this shape each of these new experiences whether they be good or bad, knowing that God is with us? That when we feel the most nervious, God leans in more closely to comfort us. The Bible reminds us that God is constantly walking by our side day by day. SO the next time you are experiencing a transition, whether it be the first day of school or the last day of work, know that you are not a lone. Our heavenly Father is walking with you, cheering you on all the way. Knowing this what if you looked forward to see "What is Next?". How would that shape your transitions?
I will be the first person to admit that my sense of direction is just plain awful. It seems like I always turn the wrong direction when given a choice. This reminds me of getting lost in Hammond, the town next door to us, when I first came to the church. I have lived in the Twin Cities for at 15 years when I became a pastor, so I got used to seeing churches built in the middle of neighborhoods. So here I was running around all the neighborhoods in Hammond looking for the Lutheran church. I think I went through did about every single neighborhood on the east side of town, when it finally dawned on me that in small town America that churchs tended to be on the main drag and guess where Trinity was...on the main drag. I thought I knew the best way to get there, it turned out that I didn't. I would have done better to use my car's GPS to find Trinity. This week, in service I talked about using a different kind of GPS, God Positioning System. How many of us feel lost in our lives right now? How many of us feel despair? How many of feel us there is no purpose? God's GPS allows us to find our direction and to evenutally our home. The way to get God's GPS started is to key in our destination. We do this by praying to God and asking God to help us with our feelings of being lost. When God's GPS plots the route for us, the next thing which is really hard to do is to put trust in the route that God has for us. How many times do we feel we know the better route than our car's GPS? God's GPS causes us to have trust that God wants the best for us and that God's way is the best way. Finally we need to act and begin to follow the route that is outlined to us on God's GPS. When we do this, our feelings of being lost and despair turn to feelings of hope and purpose. So have you engaged God's GPS? If not, Why not?
I just wanted to let you know I will be back writing my blog again. I was on vacation with my family these past two weeks, which is why I didn't post anything. Our family tradition each summer is to go to a state park and this year, we with went to two Minnesota State parks, Afton and Itasca. At Afton we stayed in their camper cabins, which are basically one room cabins with no running water. So each night before we went to bed we had to walk about 100 feet to the outhouse. It was very beautiful and peaceful, to gaze at the stars. There is no light pollution at the parks and I was amazed at how the sky glitters and shines. It got me thinking about how vast God made the universe. Yet in this vastness of space and time, God still makes it a point to walk with us each and every day. I hadn't felt that close to God in a long while. Walking with the stars and feeling that God was walking beside me as well. What do you need God to walk with you with right now? Is there a time you would like to share about when you felt the peace of God walking with you? Is so, leave it in the comments below.
Pastor Paul. I hope you find these reflections insightful and help you in your faith journey!