In 1973, there was a perceived crisis: a shortage of crude oil. We were told to conserve fuel, to drive less, and to share rides. In the Netherlands, where we were living at the time, we were given gasoline coupons, which enabled us to buy a certain number of litres of gasoline each week. There were also "carless Sundays", when only the police, ambulances, and fire trucks were allowed to use the roads. It was wonderful! There were no cars anywhere, the roads were clear of traffic, people were roller skating, and kids were playing games on the highways.
From the place where we lived, it was about eleven kilometres to the American Protestant Church which we attended in the Hague, and on Sunday mornings, we all went on our bikes, the five of us. There were a lot of people in church on those Sundays, more than usual. Those who attended on occasion had no place to go and nothing else to do. One Sunday, our young daughter, who was nine at the time, after having biked some distance, started to complain, but I told her — in retrospect, not very compassionately — to quit complaining and to keep on pedalling. After the service, the minister asked me how we made out getting to church, and I mentioned my statement to our girl.
Our church was struggling at that time, not from a lack of attendance — a lot of expatriates needed the fellowship of kindred people — but after they got settled, they would go sightseeing and have other things to do on a Sunday. Consequently, there was a lack of funds. There was also the problem that there were many people from different countries and different denominations who were used to different styles of worship. It was really hard to satisfy them all, and it was a problem for the minister and for us elders as well. We discussed it at length.
Obviously, the minister thought about what I had said, because the following Sunday his sermon title was, "Keep on pedalling". He recapped the situation that we found ourselves in, and he applied some appropriate Scripture passages.
At the present time, there are a lot of our churches struggling. Most of us can relate to it on a weekly basis. Many articles are written about it, and many prayers are offered to the Lord, sincerely hoping that a change will come about. Ministers, elders, and members alike are concerned about it. Personally, I seem to dwell on this problem quite often, and while I was thinking about it, a Scripture passage came to mind:
Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (NKJV)
Let us all rejoice in our church and in our faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord, and let us keep on pedalling, one day at a time!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are indeed times when we are really concerned about the problems which face the Christian church in so many places. We ask for Your blessing upon our efforts, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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