I always put a note card and a pen in my shirt pocket when I head to church. I might jot down the name of someone I met. I might scribble a thought from the minister that seemed to be meant just for me. Sometimes, I just write down a thought I hear from the pulpit that would make for a great article.
I give full credit to Dr. Cory Smith for two comments he made in his sermon this past Sunday. Good sermons do not just capture the thought of the moment; they can inspire other thoughts beyond the topic of the day.
I must admit that I have struggled with social media over the past few weeks and months. It does not have to be about politics, religion, or vaccines. It can be about college football as well.
Auburn played well at Penn State but lost. Auburn played poorly, at least for the first half of the game, against Georgia State but won. Social media condemned many aspects of both games. Coaches with only four games under their belt were criticized. Players not old enough to buy a beer were torn apart by people who had probably been downing beers for hours.
Yet, it is not just listening to Paul Finebaum that got me worked up on social media.
States are attempting to audit votes of an election that were decided, litigated, and determined to be valid multiple times. Congress is on the verge of shutting down the government by not increasing the debt ceiling. Both parties are at fault but are spending all their efforts in blaming the other.
What do you do when
everywhere you look it seems like chaos? Not just serious things like the validity of our election process, but who the quarterback should be in the next big game. By the way, the operative word here is “game”.
Maybe you should just row your own boat, gently down your own stream. Concentrate on where you are going. Do not get distracted. Focus on your own journey and do not allow those you do not know divert you with random thoughts about insignificant items.
The second anecdote from Dr. Smith was about a solider that was killed during D-Day. Our trip to Normandie in February of 2020 caused me to listen closely. His companions took his body to a nearby church and asked the priest for him to be buried in their cemetery. The priest reluctantly refused, saying that only those from the congregation could be buried in the cemetery.
The priest sensed their despair and suggested that the warrior could be buried just outside the fence. His friends agreed and the soldier was laid to rest.
As the soldier’s regiment was pulling out, his comrades went by the church to pay their final respects. Try as they might, they could not find the grave of their friend. Finally, they sought out the priest who told the group that after the burial he felt so bad that he sought out the church leadership.
Realizing they could not change their rules about the location of the burial, the church elders decided instead to do the next best thing. They moved the fence.
We live in a world that has too many barriers, too many fences. We have it within us to move that fence and include those that truly belong.
At the same time, we all are moving down a river, with rapids and waterfalls and many other pitfalls. Amid all the turmoil of the churning river, we should stay steady. When all seems lost, just remember to row. Row your own boat, guided by the lessons of your own life.
Row, row, row your boat. It will take you home.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org