Thursday May 14, 2020
1 Peter 3: 13-17 13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
How fast do we think on our feet? Some people are naturally gifted this way; I am not.
In a former life, I managed research for a paper company. Paper is made on a machine that starts with dilute wood fibers in water and ends up with a 20 foot wide web of paper winding onto a reel at 3000 feet per minute. If anything goes wrong and the paper web breaks, the paper web has to be rethreaded through the machine. This is a manual process. It takes about 15 minutes during which machine productivity is zero. It is a hot, wet, and dangerous operation which carries a risk of losing a finger in a nip. Many older papermakers have a missing finger. A day with no breaks is a good day.
As a researcher, I was often trying new things that changed the process and ran the risk of causing a break (as well as off-spec, unsellable paper). So, when I was running a papermaking trial, I always felt guilty when the web broke. (The operators always agreed heartily that research was guilty and responsible.) During a trial I was always trying to think fast on my feet to anticipate any problems that could cause a web break and then to recommend corrective action before it happened. I always felt that I couldn’t think fast enough. Can you relate to these feelings? Thankfully, there were others on my research team who thought faster.
Peter, in our devotional scripture, advises us how to answer if someone asks about our hope as a believer. There are pastors who can respond immediately to such a question. They can think fast on their feet. They can discern what the questioner needs to hear give a good answer. I am not one of those pastors.
Do you find it difficult to think quickly on your feet when the consequences are important? If so, what can you do?
The best method is to practice ahead of time. This is why we take driving lessons before driving. So our reactions to driving conditions become fast and automatic.
Reading the Bible is challenging for many. The Old Testament was written for a different culture and its history is not in order. Zane Stauffer, who read the Bible through multiple times, loved “chronological” translations that place events in the order in which they happened and make it much easier to follow the history. Bible vocabulary is difficult. Finding a readable translation is very helpful. But it is worth the effort. Reading the Bible is a way to practice ahead of time.
Another way to practice ahead of time is to participate in a Bible study. Most Bible studies take a short passage and ask all the participants to think about it. It is a much less rushed process and it gives us a chance to hear one another’s thoughts. As Pastor Joyce said recently, iron sharpens iron.
Last Sunday, Jon Bauman ended his sermon encouraging us to think about who we might choose as a mentor and who we might be a mentor to. Both relationships allow us to practice our beliefs ahead of time.
This may be a hidden blessing from sheltering in place. In one sense, this pestilence has moved very quickly. It is just 3 months since the first cases began in our country. But, if we are sheltering in place, three months may seem like a very long time. Home time challenges us to think about our own mortality, about God’s promise of a next life, and about how we can help one another. In a way, this is giving us time to examine our beliefs and practice our faith ahead of time.
Let’s take a moment. No pressure. If we were asked about why we have hope as a believer, what might we say? Would we speak about faith in God’s love? In God’s promises? During this time of sheltering in place, we might include something about how our faith is helping us through this crisis. How our anxiety is lessened. How we can see not only bad but also good things that are happening in the chaos.
This way, we who don’t think quickly when surprised, can be ready when questions and challenges come our way.
-Pastor Doug Donigian
Stay in touch. Share your needs. Let us help. Amen.