Points to Ponder: Finding Contentment in the Cold?
Points to Ponder
Finding Contentment in the Cold?
As I was walking down our long driveway to retrieve the newspaper, it was a typical fall morning. The sun was gradually lighting up the gray sky. The air was cold, the trees were losing their leaves in the wind. The flowers had already shriveled. Being a lover of history, my mind takes me back in time, wondering what a morning like this was like centuries ago. Where my house stands was no doubt a wilderness. One could actually drink water from the Potomac. Cold and quiet all around.
I think back to the 1620's. Imagine how it was for the 102 people who spent two months on a small wooden ship crossing the Atlantic. When you watch the satellite weather reports on the television news, and see those cold fronts and storms rolling up the coast and out to the Atlantic, you can imagine what conditions were for our seafaring ancestors; but without benefit of a cable news forecast. No thermostats in their cabin. No indoor plumbing or soothing morning shower; for two months they lived in the elements and survived a grueling trip surrounded by water and constantly in dampness. Then when they arrived in New England in November 1620, they had no motels, no McDonald's, no comforts with which to take even a brief respite from nature. Wind, icy rains, snow, freezing temperatures for days and nights without a break; can you imagine being unable to "come in out of the weather"?
Captain Christopher Jones kept the Mayflower anchored in the harbor through the winter so that the settlers could take refuge in the hull of the ship. Building shelter in such a fierce winter was near impossible. Imagine being cold constantly, always hungry, and, for many, continuously sick and weak. After that first winter, only about half the original group was still alive. Yet, when Captain Jones resolved in April of 1621 to leave for home, not one of the settlers accepted his offer to return with him.
Imagine, being one of those remaining few, watching the Mayflower slowly disappear on the horizon. Your only chance to turn back was gone. Forward was the only direction left. You are weaker, older, and your group is much smaller.
They had come here to find religious freedom and to build a new way of life. They were on a mission from God; turning back was not an option. They worked hard, prayed and fasted, and trusted God with the perseverance of Job.
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15a).
After their first harvest in 1621, the Pilgrims held a feast of Thanksgiving to God. They invited their Indian neighbors, for they had helped them survive. When I see the multiplied hundreds of acres of corn across our land, I think of how our ancestors learned to plant and harvest this vital crop from the Native Americans.
All those months of being wet, cold, starved, sick, and weak, that small remnant who survived, trusted God without knowing how things would turn out. When you're suffering in nearly unbearable circumstances for what seems like forever, and all you have is your faith in God, what will fill your heart when uncertainty is your constant companion?
Paul writes of it from prison; words which I constantly reflect on and try to live by (albeit not too successfully yet).
"For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to (live humbly) and I know how to (live in prosperity). Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:11-12).
That small remnant of faithful God-fearing people hung in there for a cause higher than achieving their own comfort. They put the Lord first in their lives, living because of Him, by Him, and unto Him. They knew the Source of their resolve:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (v. 13).
If they had gone back on the Mayflower, they would have been sensible. And history would have taken a different path. We never know what fruit will blossom in the near or distant future. But in Christ, we can know that tough times are sowing times. Suffering bears seed for something better.
"Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).
Just think back a few centuries, as you fill your plate with good things. Thanksgiving is not about parades or football. It's not "Turkey Day."
It's a God-thing as it was from the beginning. When it ceases to be about the goodness of God, then our prosperity will become our poverty.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 2:10am and 10:45am both days.