I Saw God Today

 

I know I haven’t posted in a few days. Sunday night we evacuated from Sweeny. It was a difficult night, not as difficult as many had it, but difficult none the less. A good bit of Monday we were still trying to get to my retirement home and did finally make it Monday afternoon. It isn’t usually that long of a drive but avoiding flood waters wasn’t easy. Yesterday was spent mostly resting. I wanted to post something today but I am going to leave the last chapter and a half of Matthew for a bit. Perhaps I will pick it back up tomorrow or maybe in a week or two. With what the Gulf Coast in general and the Texas Gulf Coast, in particular, has experienced over the past week, I have a few things to talk about. So, here we go….

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah” (2 Kings 19:11-13, Common English Bible).

I woke up this morning with the above passage going through my mind. As I started thinking about this passage a paraphrase started going through my mind and began to take shape….

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the streets and broke apart the trees, broke windows and tore rooves from homes. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was rain. The rain left everything wet in its wake. But the Lord wasn’t in the rain. 12 After the rain, there were flood waters. There were flood waters that filled fields and roads and homes. But the Lord wasn’t in the flood waters. After the flood waters, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When we heard it, we covered our faces. We stood before the devastation caused by the wind, the rain, and the flood waters. A voice came and said, “Why are you here?” (2 Kings 19:11-13, Keith Paraphrased Version).

I have seen a few posts on the internet in general and Facebook in particular that, while the word patterns might fit, the words themselves are just wrong. “The devastation of Harvey is due to the evilness of Houston and Harvey is God’s wrath to punish the city.” While the posts are out there, the theology is all wet, if you will pardon the pun.

That being said, I have seen God in all this. It may be hard for some to see the presence of God when the world, at least their personal world seems to be crumbling around them. It may be hard to see God when sitting in a Red Cross emergency shelter, sometimes more than 100 miles from home. It may be hard to see God when, like me, you are sitting, even sitting comfortably, waiting, but so far away from where you so want to be. Yes, I am enjoying a few unexpected days with Cindy, but right now, my heart is with the people of Sweeny. That is where I want to be.

I have seen God in this crisis as I have seen city and county officials from various municipalities and counties all along the Texas Gulf Coast who, despite personal sacrifices have maintained a calm steady hand of leadership. They have taken heat and criticism for decisions they have made. I feel certain these decisions were made with the best interests of citizens at heart. I believe they were made using the best information they had at the time. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.

I have seen God in the people who, often at risk to their own lives, have volunteered their time and their treasure to come into communities where they have known no one and owe nothing. They did it because they know that lives matter. They know that talk is cheap and actions are what is important in times like these. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.

I have seen God in people in the media who have tried to predict the unpredictable and forecast that which cannot be forecasted. I have seen God in those who have tried to lead others out of dangerous situations and back to safety with their knowledge of roadways and freeways. I saw God in a CNN crew that put down their microphones and cameras to save lives in the flood waters. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.

I have seen God in the first responders. Again, these are people who have risked their lives to help ensure our safety. I have seen God in the countless people who have made their way into work long hours with little rest in hospitals and nursing homes and fire stations and police beats. I have seen God in National Guard troops and soldiers from Fort Hood who are here rescuing people from rising water. In the efforts of all these, at least one lost his life. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.

I have seen God in the words of many bloggers I know who, in their own way have tried to contribute to the things needing to be done. They work to share words of good cheer, words of comfort, words of God so that others might gain strength for the incredible journey still to complete. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.

Right now, God has put me in Lufkin and has started putting ideas into my head, ideas like this post, as ways I can serve and help from where I am right now. I can, hopefully, bring comfort to the people I know and love, whether part of my church or others through words God has for me to say. In other words, God can work through me and I pray others don’t see me, but God who lives within me.

I pray in these difficult days you are safe and well and that you feel God’s blessings this day.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

4 thoughts on “I Saw God Today

  1. wee said! Peace be wih you@ If you need ANYTHING call me. karen 936-598-2707

    On Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 3:50 PM, Pastor’s Ponderings wrote:

    > revbroyles posted: ” I know I haven’t posted in a few days. Sunday night > we evacuated from Sweeny. It was a difficult night, not as difficult as > many had it, but difficult none the less. A good bit of Monday we were > still trying to get to my retirement home and did finally ” >

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