Fall is soon to be here. I believe that there are two ways to recognize the change in season. It’s not the earlier sunset or the cool mornings. What I notice is very colorful and actually starts to be visible in the summer. One is orange and the other patterned with black and yellow stripes.
The first are orange barrels. They begin to line the highway and express ways I commonly travel. These seem to spread as road crews rush to finish projects on time or before winter sets in. When Columbus (OH) was getting a professional soccer team, people suggested possible names and mascots. The most frequent suggestions for the new team name focused around all of the road work that happens in a city where two major expressways converge! Columbus, overwhelmed by the response, prettied it up and the Columbus Crew was born. I haven’t seen these beefy soccer guys along the expressway, though!
The other fall sign is Yellow Jackets. Many mistake them for bees, but they are not honey bees. These have the ability to sting multiple times. And if that were not enough, they will probably bite you as well. They nest in the ground so they are easy to step on, but you will not stand atop one of their nests barefoot long. I lost a bee hive to them last year and they killed the bees and stole all the honey! They also fly around my food as we have lunch on the deck.
I was talking to Mr. Simpson, my beekeeper supply guy, about them and he called them God’s clean-up crew. They come out full force at this time of year. They eat all the rotten fruit that has fallen to the ground. They not only eat the sweet offerings but love rotten meat as well. They clean up the country side as God prepares it for the winter sleep.
What I had seen as a pest and an inconvenience were actually part of a plan…not part of my plan, though. Our discipleship journey has pesky detours, bites and stings that slow us down. Many of them are beyond our control. I have found that God’s blessing may be found in these disguised interruptions. The experience I gained, the things I learned would not have been learned any other way. These life-lessons have been invaluable in the years to follow.
Some of what I have learned is about myself. How I have responded to the situation is a window to my own soul, to the level of my spiritual growth. Anger, frustration, and disappointment are all by-products of me thinking I’m in control. It was my plan that got frustrated. But God is in control! There is nothing that happens that He is not aware of. It could be that I laid out my plan and then asked God to bless it. I should have asked Him what His plan was and then followed Him!
A Discipleship Journey implies that very concept. In “discipleship,” we are following a Master and the word “journey” suggests we are making progress to a destination. One of the little yellow jackets or orange barrels in my life is the pause that happens as I fill out my portion of the charge conference reports. Some of that work is just recording information, but some of it gets more personal. “What are your spiritual strengths?” “What are you doing to grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically?” “What are your plans to grow this year?” Then the form turns to the Andover First United Methodist Church community and asks similar questions. “What are your goals for the coming year?” “What are you doing about it?” “What steps are necessary for you to achieve those goals?”
So I place this little detour in your day. You may want to swat it way and go on about your business. In what ways is God in control of your life? Are you growing spiritually? What is one thing that you are going to commit to that will help you grow? With which one topic of the current Grow sermon (Service, Prayer, Presence, Gifts and Witness) series do you need the most help?
Check us out on Grow Night. We’d love to take this journey together. Even the detours and painful moments are better with friends along for the ride. Come. Join me in the journey!
Rev. Ric Harvel