In his February blog, Benton Heisler reflects on God’s blessings, with or without sunshine.
REV. BENTON HEISLER
Director of Connectional Ministry, WMC
Yes, in Grand Rapids, Michigan in January of 2017 we experienced only 4% of the available sunshine. That doesn’t even include the “clouds” that seem to loom over every conversation about the current state of our federal government and the attitude across the country. Is it a wonder people seem grumpy/punky/down/frustrated/angry/bitter? Who wouldn’t when 96% of your light has been covered by clouds, whether meteorological or political or relational?
Last week I had the privilege of flying to Arizona to meet with other Directors of Connectional Ministry (DCM) from across the country and leaders of the United Methodist Connectional Table. I arrived Sunday afternoon and left Wednesday afternoon. It was the same routine forecast every day: cool in the morning, clear skies and 75 by mid-day then cool in the evening. Every break and meal opportunity I took my snack or plate of food and headed to stand in the sun. Every time, one of my DCM friends from the mid-west joined me or they had already made it out the front door. I looked at them, laughed, and then exclaimed, ”We are just like turtles to a rock.” We sun deprived mid-westerners knew what we needed and we were going to take every opportunity to soak it in.
“‘We are just like turtles to a rock.’ We sun deprived mid-westerners knew what we needed and we were going to take every opportunity to soak it in.”
I had never been to Arizona before. I had the joy of gazing out the plane window at land forms from 35,000 ft. I saw the deep gullies and ravines of southern Colorado’s hills and NE and Central Arizona. There was the occasional river and reservoir created by the dam set in place to harness this precious resource. The “flight tracker” on my seat –back TV screen confirmed my disappointment. Our path would not take us within view of the Grand Canyon.
As I stood on the platform waiting the 30 minutes before the next light rail train would come, I confess I kept my face to the sun in hopes of at least restoring “that healthy glow” that left me sometime in early December. So what’s your point Benton?
Gratitude for blessings. With or without sunshine, I am blessed. At home or 2,000 miles away I am blessed. Beneath the clouds I am blessed by the God who made them and shines above them. Above the clouds I am blessed by the same God who formed the earth, its waters and landforms. The God who put the climate in motion and balanced the species to exist in every rocky crevice, under a rainforest leaf, gliding high in a thermal draft or swimming beneath the ice covered sea. I express gratitude for a God who loved me and every other person on earth so much that this same God would send Jesus to be in our midst, suffer and die that we might be forgiven and know eternal life.
He came as a “light that shines into the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).” You all know too well the difference that just one light, even one small light, can make in the midst of darkness. I believe the Scriptures teach us clearly to “be that light”, “…let your light so shine, that others may see it and give glory to God (Matthew 5:16).”
So I guess the invitation to each of us is “Are you contributing to greater darkness or are you helping to let the light shine?” Do the “clouds” part and Hope “rains down” as a result of our words and actions or has what we have said or done pile up to be part of the “96% of the light lost” in the life of someone else?
I didn’t remain where, “It was the same routine forecast every day: cool in the morning, clear skies and 75 by mid-day then cool in the evening.” I returned to my people, people of the Great Lakes and gray skies and generous hearts. I returned to the people of Michigan whom I know to be “light bearers” and who carry “buckets of hope” to pour upon “fires of despair.” You are the people filled with gratitude for the creation of God that surrounds you and the Love of God that compels you to serve, and the Grace of God that gives you Peace.
People of God, let your light shine!
“If you make my Word your home, you will indeed be my disciples. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:13 New Jerusalem Bible.)” Each article I write for this column is based in the guidance of a particular Scripture passage. I pray that these reflections, stories and information will assist you in your own witness and service as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.