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From time to time, usually in the midst of winter, I haver written about how much I don’t like winter. Specifically, I don’t like it when it snows. I don’t like when it’s cold. I don’t like when I can’t see and feel the sunshine. I’ve been experiencing all of these things I don’t like about winter for the past month (January). It seems to me that it’s one of the worst winters (in my opinion) we’ve had in this part of New Jersey for a good number of years.
Thinking about winters past, I was reminded of one wintry weather incident that took place in the winter 11 years ago. Joan and I arranged to attend an evangelism conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It seemed like this would be a good way to accomplish two things. One was to learn some things that I could apply to my work as a pastor. The other was to get away from the cold weather and spend a few days in the warm and sunny south. This was the right time and the right place for just such an event.
The good news was that the event was excellent. It gave me good and helpful insight, inspiration, and information, Which I was able to apply in the church I served. But then there was the bad news. On the way south we found ourselves in the midst of a snowstorm. Beside that, instead of the warm sunshine at Myrtle Beach, we found the same, cold, dark, and dreary weather we thought we had left behind in New Jersey. I wondered if God might possibly not have understood that the whole point of having an evangelism event in mid-winter in the south, was to get away from the cold and snow and get some warm sun.
Then God reminded me of that story in the Bible where Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea (really just a big lake) of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). I remembered how his disciples , who were afraid they would perish in the storm, asked “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him.” The point being that if Jesus,who is God in Christ, can control the weather, then certainly he must be in control of everything and everyone else in creation (his creation).
With this insight, this winter I’m trying to look at the weather, especially the kind of weather I don’t like, as a way of reminding me that God is in control, not just of the weather, but of all of his creation, including you and me. I am also reminded that God loves you and me – and I am assured that no matter what the weather – or anything else that’s going on – that because of God’s power and love, everything is ultimately going to to be okay in the end.
Returning to the current winter, I find myself constantly saying, “I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow. I hope it gets just a little warmer.” Sometimes those hopes are fulfilled. Sometimes not. So why is that? I’m reminded of what one of my seminary professors would say whenever we asked questions like that. He would say, “Ask him (God) when you get there” (there being heaven). I’ll do that someday. In the meantime it looks like I will just hold on to my have faith that no matter what happens, whether I like it or not, somehow God is involved. I don’t mean that God causes bad things to happen, but for some reason God sometimes lets them happen. Sometimes I can see a reason why he lets bad things (as I see them) happen. One reason is that one thing God can’t do is please everybody at the same time. Because what is bad news for one person can be good news for another. For example, a few days ago, right after another snow storm (bad news for me), I received an e-mail from a friend who recently had surgery. She was recovering at home but her husband was away on a business trip. So in the midst of my cursing the snow I read here comment, “I appreciated the snow storm which kept the kids home too.” I also heard some people on the news report telling how much they enjoyed and looked forward to the snow (Good news for all of those people).
When it comes to the weather, I look at it this way. When God created the universe he also established “laws of nature”, including weather patterns, which are needed for the earth to continue to work as God intended. However, from time to time God finds it necessary to make some adjustments to these patterns. I’m not sure, but I believe this might be why we have global warming in these times. And I have to believe that sometimes God does directly cause certain weather events to take place. Why? I don’t know. I’ll ask when I get there.
Until then, this is what I do know. If my hopes about anything (including weather) are in accordance with God’s will, plan, and purpose, then God will fulfill those hopes, in God’s time and God’s way. That means I have to discern God’s will, plan, and purpose. If I don’t do that, then my hopes are likely to just be wishful thinking.
I also know, based on my experience, that there is always good news in the midst of bad news. If you look for it, you will find it. If I can’t find any good news at the moment I know that God will assure, again in God’s time and God’s way, that something good will take place. My own example is this. About thirty years ago I experienced what I still think of as the worst time of my life. I was fired from my job and spent over a year unemployed. When that happened, I didn’t believe that God had anything to do with that, except that he let it happen to me. Today I know that God was directly involved in that. I even believe he caused me to experience that terrible time. However, today I am also thankful that God either caused it or let it happen. Because God used it to open up a whole new purpose for my life. Today, having experienced good news and bad news, I can say without a doubt, “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good”.
The weather reports for this week are predicting more cold weather and maybe some more snow. To me that’s still bad news. I will again complain about the weather. But the good news is that God knows better than I do, how to apply the laws of nature for the long-term well-being of this earth that we all call home call home.
Grace and peace, Ray Gough