February 2010

(Ninth In Series on “What God is Saying to America in 2010”)

Pilgrim Reflections” (For the Week of February 24, 2010) By Tom Smith

As a young boy growing up on a farm in central Arkansas as the adopted son of a sharecropper farmer, I used to go out fishin’ at a small pond down near the barn. Sometimes I’d take a long, limber cane-pole, with 20-lb test line and a red-and-white plastic bobber; other times I’d get sophisticated and use that fancy Zebco 33 rod-and-reel that could cast out where “the big ‘uns” were.

But, so many times as the bobbers bobbed. . .and the mosquitoes bit. . .and the sweat from a hot summer’s day sun poured. . .I’d lie there in the grass on my back lookin’ up at the clouds. Trying to see what faces or figures I could see in them. And, seeing them pretty much depended on how active your imagination was.

And, mine was pretty active.

During that same period of time, growing up poor, having to use an outhouse and wringer washer, we attended a small country church. Not too many people went there. And, the preacher was part-time, usually only showing up on Sundays.

Yet, it was there I first came to believe in God, the Bible and invited Jesus into my heart. And, to think: I was only seven-years-old!

Since that time so long ago. . .after many years of formal education. . .and thousands of miles of travel around the world. . .I’ve still clung to those basic beliefs that sustained my childlike faith. And, you know—they sustained me then and, thank the Lord, they continue to sustain me now.

Even though I’ve studied Greek and Hebrew, been preaching for almost 42 years, served as a pastor, overseas missionary and military chaplain, I still find myself coming back to those basic beliefs formed within me so many years ago.

Beliefs like: *Believing there is one, true, living God, Who created the world just like the Bible says in the Book of Genesis. I’ll let others argue about the ins-and-outs of creation, whether or not the days mentioned there (Gen. 1) are 24-hour periods or eons of time, etc; I’ll just cling to the fact that there is an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God Who loves me and has a plan in my life.

*Believing that we were created “in God’s image” (Gen. 1:26), which means we humans alone were created with the ability to consciously, intentionally love, worship and serve God—and, as Augustine, one of the early church fathers said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee, O God.”

*Believing that God has a plan for our lives, but we have as problem: Sin. The two trees mentioned in the Biblical account of creation in Gen. 2:9, 16-17 (the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) represented choices—just as Jesus’ description of the two roads and two foundations in Matthew 7:13-14 and 7:24-27 represent choices. And, by nature, because of our “union” with Adam, we inevitably will choose sin, which puts us in opposition to God and leads to chaos and destruction.

*Believing that God has made provisions for our sin-problem through His Son, Jesus Christ. For almost 50 years now I’ve walked with the Lord and studied His Word. During that time I’ve developed a growing, intimate relationship with this One Who died on the Cross and rose from the dead. And, it’s because of that relationship that I have hope “as a sure and steadfast Anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:17-20) and can face the future unafraid.

*Believing there’s more to life than what meets the eye. Although I don’t know what the future holds, as someone said “I do know Who holds the future.” It’s because of my faith in Almighty God, which is based on the teachings of His inspired Word (the Bible), that I know how everything turns out. That’s why I’ve devoted my life to sharing Jesus’ Life and Love with others through preaching, teaching, writing, singing, etc.

Just as ancient mariners used the sun and stars as their unchanging reference points for charting the seas, so must we use God’s Son and the Word as our “due North” for our soul’s compass. Only then can we rest assured of reaching our final destination: Home with God.

(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com).