A brief moment in time
I was on a youth retreat as a senior in high school when we spent the weekend at a camp near the Fin Fur and Feather in Haneyville. Our group was large enough that we split up into two cabins – a guys cabin and a girls cabin. For a group of high school kids spending three days in the mountains we enjoyed having separate cabins because it gave us the time and space to get away by ourselves and do “guy” stuff.
What exactly does “guy” stuff entail you might ask? Activities such as late night card games, indoor wrestling matches and drinking large amounts of heavily caffeinated soda are a decent place to start- nothing too crazy, but a good time nonetheless.
It was during one of our late night card games that we found ourselves in an awkward predicament. You see, we were up on an early February weekend and the weather was a biting temperature. At this point we did what any logical person would do and we started a fire in the wood stove.
Now, for a couple of kids who resided in the farm country of Lancaster County, our efforts were quite admirable – probably too admirable. You see, once the fire began we made the assumption – quite accurately, I must admit – that the more wood we put in the stove, the faster the cabin would warm up. To speed the analogy and point of my illustration along, I’ll simply conclude by stating that, while the outside temperature was hovering somewhere around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, we ended up playing cards – at midnight – with every window and door in the cabin hanging wide open – in nothing but our briefs.
Although the temperature was well below freezing outside, the inside of the cabin was probably hovering around the century mark. The outside was bitterly cold, but the inside was stifling due to the heat produced by the burning wood inside the furnace. Because of the source of the heat, the conditions outside simply had very little (extremely minimal) effect on the temperature inside the cabin – to an almost absurd degree.
But how in the world does this story apply to our faith? Shouldn’t Christians operate similarly? No matter what conditions are present on the exterior, the source of peace and strength on the inside remains constant.
The apostle Paul writes these words to the church in Philippi – I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.
We so often like to quote the latter part of this passage while ignoring the former. Paul wrote this from prison, not exactly a happy and comfortable place. Please know that I understand that we are all at different levels and places on our faith journeys and it isn’t my intention to minimize any pain or hurting in your life.
But when we don’t exemplify these ideals of Christ and Paul in our hearts and lives, are we truly depending on God for our strength or are we relying on our own efforts?
Being a pastor, I hear followers of Christ claim to be disheartened by many trivial things in our world. Theologian A.W. Tozer was quoted as saying – When it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who has not surrendered authority. God is in control.
It may sound simple, trite or cliche, but it is the truth. No matter your circumstance, situation or station in life, with faith in Jesus Christ, your words and your heart can echo the words of Paul in Philippians. Remember, behind the scenes is a God who has not surrendered authority – rest in the peace and comfort of that truth.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Scott Garman of Cedar Heights Bible Church, Mill Hall.