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Enduring Trials

About the authors: Wayne and Deanna Schmidt have been members at ZPC for over twenty years. Wayne is currently an active Deacon and also moderates ZPC’s Board of Deacons. Deanna teaches second grade at Eagle Elementary in Zionsville (or via Zoom lately!). They have two grown children and enjoying walking on the Zionsville Rail Trail.

Deanna has been reading a book entitled The Book of Amazing Stories, by Robert Petterson. It is a devotional collection of short stories about seeing God’s hand in unlikely places. A week ago as we were on our walk she told me about the latest story she read, a story about the Boll Weevil. The story describes a large marble statue of a woman located in Alabama. Her arms are outstretched in a posture of worship. The odd thing is that she is raising up a giant black boll weevil, an insect and, mind you, not one that would draw oohs and ahhs like a ladybug or honeybee.

It seems that back in the 1800s when the cotton crop was the cornerstone of economic prosperity in the south, the black boll weevil invaded from Mexico. The invasion was called the black flood and it devastated more that 40% of Alabama’s cotton crop. This left farmers no option but to look for other means to survive, so they turned to planting peanuts. Today, this area is now known as the peanut capital of the world.

The devotional was tied to 1 PETER 1:6 - - So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

As we were discussing the story we reflected on how many boll weevil moments we’d had in our lives. Like our struggles early on to have children when it seemed like all our friends were starting their families.  Then God blessed us with two wonderful sons. Or how two days before our first son Austin was born I learned my job was being impacted due to the loss of a significant contract at my company. Not great timing but God soon after opened a new career opportunity for me in southern Pennsylvania in the field of robotic automation.

Finally, how a major downturn in the economy in 1999 led to seeking new employment that led us to Zionsville and ZPC. We still recall with amazement the day after we decided to make the move to Indiana, we were standing out in our neighborhood talking with our friends. We hadn’t broke the news of our move to them yet. Suddenly, someone drove up and commented on how much they loved our neighborhood and inquired if we knew if there were any properties for sale. Coincidence?

It was easy to look back and see all the times we relied on God and his timing during so many boll weevil moments.

The inscription on the bottom of the statue in Alabama where the woman is giving thanks to God reads, “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the Herald of Prosperity.”

So as we navigate more and new boll weevil moments such as the coronavirus pandemic and heightened struggles of racial injustice, we take comfort in knowing we have a God that can bless us through even our greatest trials. It will be interesting to see what God had in store for humanity 20, 50 or even 100 years after 2020. 

ACTIVITY:

Take time to reflect on your own Boll Weevil moments and see how God was there in the midst of them all.

PRAYER:

Lord Jesus,
No matter what challenges or trials we face, may we do so in hope and the assurance that You have us covered with your Wisdom and Love.
Amen.

Posted by Wayne Schmidt with

Distracted

About the author: Stan is a pastor to pastors, a writer, a lover of Malawi, and a ZPC attender and choir member. He and his wife, Mary, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. Stan serves as the parish associate for ZPC.

Today's Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

This morning I have the delight of looking out upon a lush, green lawn; spring-green leaves of maples and oaks; and the radiance of irises in full bloom. Among these moves a fresh breeze, promising warmth; and above all, a sky sparkling deep and blue. Furthermore, I have the pleasure of watching several starlings, robins, finches, and even hummingbirds eating their second, or maybe their third breakfasts. 

This day holds much beauty and opportunity for me—ah, a hummingbird just returned. 

But as I behold this morn, I know that beyond my sight is a pandemic world, that looks very different from an assisted-living and/or nursing home window; from an empty classroom in India; and from a desolate marketplace in Uganda. Likewise, beyond my view lies the aftermath of demonstrations and destruction; of despair and fear amid broken glass and burned wreckage; of hope puddled in grimy gutters. 

In the light of these worlds, the irony for me this morning stems from an anticipated conversation, in which two sisters, Martha and Mary, might figure (Luke 10:38-42). Very likely you know this account: Martha appeared as “vexed,” “distracted,” and “overcome by great service”; and Jesus affirmed her vexation: she was “concerned and troubled about many things.” Although motivated to serve, her distractions prevented her from focusing upon the important and the essential: time with him.
As I thought of Martha’s distraction, I gave further attention, as perhaps never before, to the Greek word, περισπάω (perispaó), which we translate as “vexed” or “distracted.” Without question, either of these words is an accurate translation, but in classical Greek, this verb also describes the action of an army diverting energies and efforts to counter an enemy’s flanking movements. Instead of centering upon its primary objective, the army begins to turn about, backing up and in upon itself: great confusion and loss is probable.

Martha was vexed. Apparently she forgot about the nature and meaning of her hospitality: her focus was to be upon Jesus and providing for his needs. I wonder: Might he have wanted her, for a moment, to sit with him, to be present for him? 

Upon this day, I realize that I too can be distracted: I can allow beautiful surroundings, or riot and pandemic concerns to divert me from what I am to do and to be. Apart from asking: “Lord, what would you have of me today?” most anything or anyone can turn me about, in, and upon myself. 

Posted by Stan Johnson with

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