October 15, 2006

18th Sunday after Pentecost

"Trusting God's Generosity"

(2 Corinthians 1:20-22)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NRSV)

[20] For in him every one of God's promises is a "Yes." For this reason it is through him that we say the "Amen," to the glory of God.

[21] But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us,

[22] by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Back before I answered the call to preach, Mary and I worked a farm with her grandparents. I thoroughly enjoyed those days on the farm. We worked hard but you could see the results. My oldest son, Paul, doesn't remember much about it but he was always fascinated with the tractors and all the equipment we used and he loved to go for rides on the tractor.

I remember one incident that really speaks to the issue of Believing God rather than Believing In God, or as the title says, Trusting God's Generosity.

One afternoon in early autumn, Grandpa and I were headed out on the tractor to pickup flatbed wagon we'd lent to our neighbor, Herbert. Grandpa crawled into the driver's seat. Paul came running out and wanted to go with us. Herbert had squirrels that would take pecans right out of your hand.

I don't know how many ways or times I told him there wasn't anyplace for him to ride, but he kept saying "But Daddy . . . But Daddy . . . " With those crocodile tears just about to fall. I finally consented to hold him for the half-mile ride up our drive and across the county road.

Usually, when Grandpa drove the tractor for short trips like that, I stood behind him (on one foot at a time) on a two inch wide drawbar, and held onto the tractor seat for dear life. It wouldn't have been bad on a paved road but this was the bumpy old farm drive.

I know it was a hazardous way to travel and there's probably not anybody who's owned a tractor who hasn't traveled like that. The problem was, on this particular trip, however, I had reduced my grip by half. Here I was holding Paul in one arm and hanging on with the other. About half way there I realized how stupid that was and I was fear grabbed a hold of me. What if I dropped him? What if I slipped off? What if he wiggled wrong and knocked us both off?

I started looking for where to jump if something happened and I could best protect Paul. And in the midst of this minor panic attacked I looked at Paul. And it was amazing. He was ecstatic. The wind blowing through his hair, the sound of the old tractor roaring in his ears, he was oblivious. His face and eyes danced with delight. The bouncing only made him giggle.

He had one arm around my neck and was waving with the other one. Not only was he totally oblivious to the danger at hand, he was thoroughly enjoying it. For him, there was no danger. As far as he was concerned, everything was just fine. Nothing would happen. He was in his Daddy's arms.

For me it was one of those awesome moments in life & faith. Because I thought of how much God wants us to have that same level of trust.

Ever since then, I've often thought that's how God wants us to feel. That's how God wants us to Believe. Trusting completely in God's Promises and Generosity.

No matter how complex the problem, how imminent the danger, or how disconcerting the situation, there is but one place for us: safe in our Heavenly Father's arms.

I only wish it was as easy for me as it seemed to be for my son Paul that day. It IS getting easier as I continue to grow in my faith. And it gets easier the more I put my trust completely in God.

The truth is that's what God wants for us. God wants us to do more than simply Believe IN God. God wants us to Believe God. To Believe God's promises through Christ & to Trust In God's Generosity of Grace, Mercy, Love & Forgiveness every day of our lives, not just on a part time basis. God doesn't want our part time love and obedience.

Jesus didn't die on the cross for part time love. He died so we could Trust God's Generosity COMPLETELY.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.







Other References Consulted

Barclay, William: Daily Study Bible of the New Testament (WordSearch Bible Software Version)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

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Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

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Lights, Camera...Faith by Peter Malone with Rose Pacatte (Daughters of St. Paul, 2002)

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Movie Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, by Craig Brain Larson and Andrew Zahn(Zondervan Publishing, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, 2003)

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Ministry and Media

Internet Movie Database

Preaching.com's Movie Ministry

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