Unfamiliar Territory

Have you ever gone somewhere and felt totally out of place?  I remember going to a wedding where we only knew the bride or the groom and the unannounced theme was contrary to how we were dressed.  We were going to my son’s church a few years ago and after some poor directions, and several churches in the area, we ended up in the wrong one.  It wasn’t even Lutheran!   It wasn’t until my wife noticed the baptismal “pool” next to the altar, that we started to question our choice.  Unfortunately, since we were running a bit late, the only seats available were in the front row. This made it extremely awkward when we decided to leave. Of course, it didn’t help when we had to push our way through the children’s bell choir coming down the aisle that we chose for our escape route.  Yes, we felt totally “out of place”!

Two weeks ago, my wife and I flew to Phoenix to watch the Rockies spring camp.  While there, our friends wanted to take us to Rocky Point Mexico on the Sea of Cortez.  It was only a 4-hour trip, so in spite what we heard on the news about a kidnapping, we loaded the car and ventured out. The first two hours were as beautiful as a trip across Nebraska in the winter. (gag)  Once we got to the border the view was quite different.  A half-finished border wall, a dingy, well-lit crossing gate, a line of traffic and Mexican border agents that looked like they fell out of a ninja movie. Asking us questions in Spanish didn’t really create fear, just an un-easiness.  Having Psalm 23:4 in my head helped a lot!

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

After paying the local constable/bandito $100 for an unknown traffic infraction, we were again on our way to a beautiful beach, swimming pools and hot tubs. As beautiful and relaxing as it was, there was still an uneasiness especially when we went into the downtown area.

We came home after 4 days and once we entered the U.S. all anxiety melted away. The border guards were friendly and a feeling of security comfort came over all of us. We were back in familiar surroundings!  Ahhhhh

Isn’t that the feeling you get when you come to Church on Sunday mornings?  I know I do.  Not only is it “familiar territory” but all the issues of the outside world seem to melt away.  Why does this happen?  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) helps to explain it but I found that Psalm 91:1-2 hits the nail on the head for me:

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

In Church, we are “in the shelter of the Most High”!  Ahhhhh

Kent Patton, Operations Manager

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