Working in a place where nothing works but God!
During a recent staff meeting, Harold Ebersole got to share the broad view of his life and ministry with Christ, being led through unexpected twists and turns at every step of the way. He talks through 7 principles from the classic book, Experiencing God. Listen to the story below.
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A Moveable Feast. Not to be confused with Hemingway’s famous autobiographical book, bearing this title, which describes his years as a young writer in Paris, full of joie de vivre (joy of life). No, the moveable feast, I’m referring to is Easter. Long before Hemingway wrote his memoir, Easter was known as a “moveable feast” because it was a Christian celebratory feast day which fell on a different date each year, unlike the other Christian holidays with fixed dates. In 2019, Easter’s moveable feast, falls on April 21st.
This description of Easter seems perfectly suited in more than just it’s nomadic calendar setting. A “moveable feast” suggests that this is a celebration we can take with us, where ever we go. It’s moveable and living, just as we are, just as Christ is. Like packing a fantastic picnic feast, we can celebrate Christ’s living presence in any and every place and situation we find ourselves. But a delicious picnic requires preparation. Historically, the Christian church has set apart the 40 days before Easter to prepare for the “feast” celebrating Christ’s saving death and resurrection.
The blizzard hit on Sunday morning. A lone farmer showed up at church. The young pastor prepared to close up for the day. But, the farmer replied, “If I bring out my load of feed to the hogs, and only one hog shows up, I still feed the one that makes the effort”. So, the pastor preached to his lone congregant. The pastor found himself preaching with great liberty. Flying in rarified heights of oratorical glory, he ended up preaching well past his normal sermon time. Somewhat sheepishly, he noted the clock on the wall and hurried to say goodbye to the farmer. The farmer replied, “Pastor, I would feed that one hog. But, I would not feel the need to dump the whole durn load!!”
There are times when we need to heed the farmer’s advice. We can dump too much. We have truth to share. Truth about God. Truth about a person’s issues. Truth about our read of a situation. We never want to be unwilling to “speak truth in love” (Ephesians 4:25). But, sometimes we need to hold on to our “truth”. How do you know when it is time to not dump the whole load?
Harold and I walk into an expansive fitness center. “Wow,” we say. Large signs – “Performance”, “Motivate”, “Achieve” – hang from the walls. Banners list the benefits of connecting with a personal trainer. On a wall-TV, experts recommend best routines for this “fitness journey.” My head swivels right to left and back to center.
One muscular manager steps out from behind the front desk and hands me a schedule of classes. He then confidently motions us to walk with him around the facilities. He proudly points out rows of earnest exercisers, every level, every age. I see a couple men pass each other and pause to talk. The manager pulls my attention back with his comments. “When you come in, you know what to expect. We’ll supply everything you need to accomplish your goals. Assessments. Group fitness classes...” As we walk past floor-to-ceiling glass, we see a group of glistening women stepping in synch. Music is pumping, and the coach shouts, “Hey, I didn’t design this to be easy. But it’s so worth it!” Our tour guide tells us, “Instructors will give you everything possible for the best outcome.” We next walk past a snack-bar – One man is gulping down an energy drink, and he nods at us. Our tour guide says, “We recommend these health drinks too. And have I mentioned our website and podcasts? Knowledge builds motivation, you know.” Okay, I’m impressed. Harold’s grinning and nodding. The manager next pulls out gym membership papers and hands Harold a pen…
As I walked into her little house in Taxisco, Guatemala I was immediately impressed with several things as I looked around. These are people of very humble means. The floor of the house was packed dirt and the walls of the house were made mostly of tin that looked like old roofing material. The house was pretty dark without much natural light or ventilation. It was smoky on the inside because of the open fire which was used for their heating and cooking. There was no electricity, I could see no evidence of running water and the bathroom facilities were an outhouse in their small backyard. I realized it does not get much more primitive than this.
The lady we were visiting had just been visited by Dr. O and RN T just a couple of hours before I arrived. They had come to see her because she was unable to walk to the place where we were holding the medical clinic. She had severe respiratory problems and needed help. Dr. O treated her as best he could for the respiratory problems and an infection as well. He was able to do a nebulizer treatment by plugging the machine into the electric of a nearby neighbor. Medicine was provided and encouragement was given before Dr. O and T went to another “house call”.