Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (NIV)
You may have watched pictures of the wildfires that once again swept the Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, area in late July, reminding us of the devastating fires of August 2003, when 239 homes burned to the ground. This time, again, miraculously, no one was seriously hurt, and no lives were lost!
I volunteered during the recent evacuation, interviewing evacuees and arranging government-financed meals, accommodation, and clothing. One of the evacuees was a very stressed man named "John".
While I was writing out his vouchers, John asked my profession.
I have always liked the term "pastor", rather than "minister", simply because it reflects the pastoring side of ministry to which I feel called, and to which I feel more gifted.
"Oh… I'm a church pastor." I told John proudly, still with my face down in his paperwork.
Soon, John was deep in a monologue on the merits of drywalling, its ease of installation, and its paintability. Half-listening, I couldn't follow how he got onto the subject of drywall.
This guy must really be stressed out by the fires and being evacuated, I thought.
John continued, revealing that he was surprised that there were still professional "plasterers" erecting building walls for churches. It was then that I realized his mistake.
"Pastor," I told him, putting my pen down. "not plaster. I'm a church pastor."
Then we both had a long laugh, which immediately seemed to drain the tension right out of him.
I interviewed a mere handful of the more than 11,000 people evacuated, but they all had one thing in common. They were all experiencing some level of shock, some degree of stress.
As I silently prayed for them, the thought that crossed my mind was God's promise in today's Scripture, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
As overwhelmed as many were, the level of stress of the evacuees seemed much lower than the levels we experienced in 2003. A wise individual suggested the reason. In the end, the homes that were rebuilt in 2003 were entirely paid for by the insurance companies to levels that exceeded the original. Old houses were replaced by contemporary new ones. Net worths increased.
Knowing that the worst-case scenario would be acceptable calmed the fears of many who were evacuated. They had been assured with first-hand knowledge that they would be looked after, that they would not be deserted in their time of need, even if they lost all.
So too, it is with us. As overwhelming as life can be, particularly during these recessionary times when many are financially stressed, Jesus assured us when he sent the Holy Spirit, "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you." (John 14:18 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, You are the faithful one, never leaving us. Even in such turbulent times as we are experiencing now, we can go on in life, despite our trials, knowing You go before us, guiding us to paths of quiet waters. Amen.
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