Enjoy today’s guest post by a gifted writer, and one of my former students, Sarah Jones. She has a great blog that really began when she participated in a life-changing semester of school, in India. Be sure to check out her bio at the end of this blog.
If you’re reading from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, I can guess with a good degree of certainty that you had a spectacular weekend. Can I get an “amen”? For those in other areas, I’ll let you in on our secret: the sun came out.
Not only did this foreign ball of heat and happiness come out, but it stayed long enough to give us some 80 degree warmth on Sunday. Lawns were mowed, barbecues were fired up, and everyone breathed a bit easier. Life was good.
Here in Oregon, weekends like this are rare. All the stereotypes about rainy Oregon are truer than most any of us would like. Even if it’s not actually raining, we are greeted most days with a sky full of gray clouds fit for sad Eeyore himself. Much of the time, we act like Eeyore too. Life is grim, and we find common ground in complaining and pessimistic comments. In fact, this jaded cynicism even becomes somewhat cool.
Then, when the sun comes out, everything changes. We put on bright colors and walk with an extra spring in or steps. Neighbors actually greet each other, and problems don’t seem quite as bad as they did yesterday. Smiles are given freely, and joy is the new norm. We wonder how we could have ever been so pessimistic.
In both of these scenarios, the sun is just as present. More constant than our friends, our families, or our jobs is the sun that rises and sets each day without fail. The difference is not in the sun’s presence, but in our ability to see or feel it. When the clouds cover the sky for days on end, we are quick to get discouraged and complain. Of course, we are still being sustained by the sun’s warmth – just less of it than we’d like. In the middle of a brutally rainy month like February or November, we struggle to even remember what it feels like be warmed to the core by the sun.
Our spirits are lifted only when the clouds break and sweet rays of sunlight flood our homes and brighten our hearts. We experience the light and warmth and are happy. That first truly warm day in spring brings excitement and joy that could rival the best of holidays.
I wonder how similar our seasonal mood swings are to our spiritual ones. Like the sun, our God is always present and working in our lives. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39), and He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The only difference is our awareness of His presence.
Sometimes challenging circumstances and hardships roll in in like gray Eeyore clouds and block our view of God. We don’t see His work in our lives or feel especially close to Him. We quickly become discouraged, complaining about our trials and perhaps even doubting God’s goodness.
Then the clouds break, and our hardships lessen for a season. Suddenly, we see God’s work and blessing everywhere. Of course He loves us! Of course He is working in our lives! How could we ever doubt Him?
Living the Overboard Life is not easy. Often, it may look a lot like Oregon weather, containing more overcast days than sunny ones. As passionate disciples choosing to step off the boat onto the surging waters, we must commit to seek and trust God at all times. Whether we see Him or not, God is always present in our lives, working for our good and His glory. We cannot live the Overboard Life by depending on our own strength; we need Him to empower us, guide us, and teach us to love. In fact, the cloudy hard times are when we need Him most and must root our hope in Him. We will rejoice in the sun when faith comes easily, and we will persevere in the rain, asking God to assure of His presence and fill our hearts with joy.
Hello Overboard Readers! I’m Sarah, one of the privileged students who was blessed to go through Pastor Joe’s Crosswalk program through middle and high school. This means I ate my fair share of Little Caeser’s pizza, developed a strategy for Octagon of Death, and marked my weeks by highlights. It also means I was challenged each week to live the Overboard Life of courageous love and obedience to God (even if it didn’t have the official name yet). In the four years since graduation, I have sought to live that kind of life in the areas God has called me – as a citizen of heaven living as Christ’s ambassador of grace here on earth. If you’d like to read more of my reflections and thoughts, check out my blog mynameisforeigner.wordpress.com. Thanks for reading!