Stubborn Ounces

By Pastor Rob Fuquay | 09/1/2017
Today's Devotion: Stubborn Ounces
 
 
We have all been undone (as we should be) over the images coming from Texas. Our hearts go out to so many. Folks in St. Luke's have been affected. Several have family members who have had to evacuate. One member who just learned he has cancer was admitted to MD Anderson in downtown Houston, only to arrive two days before the storm, and then the hospital closed. Thanks to the support of several Methodist clergy there, he and his wife were able to get to Austin and are now back home. So storms like this stretch a long way.
 
Here is a link to the UMCOR response page. We will give everyone a chance to respond Sunday, and I encourage you to send your giving through St. Luke's. 
 
For a devotion today, I found the words of my friend, Dr. Jim Harnish, most appropriate. He's the retired pastor of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Fl. He blogs regularly and this was his entry earlier in the week:
 
Helpless! The word reverberates in our souls when we see people being rescued from the roofs of their flooded homes. It beats in our hearts as we watch water-soaked people make their way through chest high water to crowded shelters with a child in their arms, a few possessions in a plastic bag, or carrying nothing at all. It stretches our imagination when we see aerial views of flooded cities and destroyed businesses and homes. It haunts our minds as we wonder what we can do that will make any real difference in this massive sea of suffering.
 
 
Is there any word from the Lord that touches the deep flood of helplessness we feel?
 
A Word from the Lord 
 
Providentially, the lectionary for the Sunday after Harvey takes us to the burning bush, where Moses hears the Lord say, "I have clearly seen my people...I heard their cry." (Exodus 3:7) The good news is that God is not absent or indifferent. God is not blind, insensitive or hard of hearing. The God of infinite compassion sees, hears, feels and shares our suffering. We are not alone.
 
The disciples felt helpless when they were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:35-41) But Jesus heard their cries. He spoke the words, "Be still!" and "the wind settled down and there was a great calm." The calming of the water was equal to the calming of their fears. The calming word for our helplessness is that God is with us. We are not alone. It led Charles Wesley to sing:
 
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
 
But what about our helpless feelings when we watch the flood but are not in it? Is there a word from the Lord when we see other people's suffering from a distance? We cannot stop the storm. We cannot erase the impact of global warming or the absence of city planning that led to paving over the earth that might have absorbed more of the rain. We cannot replace all that has been lost. Are we helpless, too?
 
As it was for Moses, the word of the Lord for us is, "Get going." (Exodus 3:10) We are not helpless! The compassion of God that moved the Samaritan to do what he could for the helpless man on the side of the road calls us to get going; to do whatever we can to relieve some part of the suffering we see.
 
Bonaro Overstreet wrote her poem,  "Stubborn Ounces" for "One Who Doubts the Worth of Doing Anything If You Can't Do Everything." She confessed that we often think our little efforts make very little difference. She described them as ounces dropped onto the "hovering scale where justice hangs in balance." But she ends her poem with the bold confidence that she gets to choose "which side will feel the stubborn ounces of my weight."
 
Sometimes everything we have to give seems like "stubborn ounces," just tiny drops of compassion dropped into a massive flood of loss and suffering. But God has a miraculous way of using small gifts to bring great healing, hope and the strength to go on. Every "flood bucket" or "hygiene kit" we send, every gift we give to UMCOR, every prayer we offer can become the expression of God's love and the witness of God's presence for the person who receives them.
 
The lectionary Psalm for last Sunday prepared us for this week.
 
If the Lord hadn't been for us...
the waters would have drowned us;
the torrent would have come over our necks;
                  then the raging waters would have come over our necks!
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:1, 4-5, 8)
 
Because we know the Lord is for us, we are not helpless!
 
I hope you will be with me Sunday as we pray for the people impacted by this devastating storm.
 
Rob

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