Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


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The summer between Washington Grade School and Coquille Junior High marked a definite milestone in my family. God generously answered my mother’s prayers for a second car.

Specifically, she petitioned Him for and received the money to buy an old Willy’s Jeep Station Wagon.

The once-green paint had faded into more of a khaki color, except for the passenger door. It was reddish-pink, replaced from the salvage yard at some point. Half the tailgate was green, but the other half was also red. The engine ran and redemptively it had 4-wheel drive. Frankly, Mother’s jeep was on odd looking thing and I secretly wished she had asked for something newer and prettier.

But Saturdays saw us heading out to Whiskey Run in search of Japanese glass floats and agates and anything else interesting that might have washed up onto the beach.

I was more of a solitude walker than a rock collector, so I usually went off by myself. At age eleven I was eager to get away from both my younger siblings and my parents. That wasn’t always easy.

One Saturday in particular after I had hiked a ¼ mile or so, I turned to look back and see how far I had gone. That’s when I discovered that my four year-old sister was following me, literally walking in my sandy footprints. Because my legs were much longer than hers, Barbara was really working to jump from one step to the other. She stretched. She fell and got back up. She looked extremely ridiculous.

Jesus talked to his disciples about the importance of following him. In Mark 8:34 he said, “If anyone will come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

I’ve heard a lot of nonsense when it comes to identifying our personal crosses. Jesus was not talking about arthritis, addiction, diabetes, birth defects, unruly children, or cheating spouses. Those are legitimate challenges, but they are not crosses.

A person carrying a cross during biblical times only had one destination: death. It was always a one-way trip. For you and I to take up a cross doesn’t mean enduring chronic discomfort. Jesus was talking about dying. Not the physical death of our body-- death to SELF. In Luke’s account Jesus says we must take up his cross daily. That tells me that dying to self isn’t a one-time action; it’s a lifetime experience.

To follow Jesus means that wherever his footprints lead, we go.

One of the things I appreciate about God is that He judges us on the basis of our intention and our direction rather than the imperfections of our actual performance. Following Jesus means that sometimes:

  • We must stretch to get from one footprint to another.

  • Occasionally we’re going to fall over and need Jesus to lift us back up.

  • We are probably going to look silly to people who don’t understand what we’re doing.

  • And since our ultimate destination is already set in eternity, we only need to pay attention to the direction our feet are pointed today.

Sometimes on the days when I don’t want to stretch, I’m tired of falling over, I am not willing to appear silly, stupid, uncoordinated, and I demand reassurance of my destination, I remember my sister that day on the beach. I stop long enough to look behind me. There could be people who are counting on me to show them the way.

Those are the days that I leave a little more of my ego on the beach and carry the cross I’ve been given.