Pastor’s Corner – May 20, 2022

Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church.

To be honest, I often struggle with these reflections I send out in our newsletter each week. This week was one of those weeks. I’ve been too busy to have a reflective thought about anything. More than one person has accused me of writing about their own struggles when the truth is I’m often reflecting on my own. On weeks like this one it’s tempting just to paraphrase the coming Sunday sermon which dominates my thoughts most days and pass that off as a reflection. That would be cheating though, right?

So, it was down to the wire, and I went into a room by myself and turned on my music. An old favorite hymn came on – “I Love To Tell The Story”. “…Of Jesus and His love” completes the first verse of that familiar song. We sing this song in church from time to time but it seems we’ve gotten away from telling the story of Jesus and His love in our own lives. What is your story of Jesus and His love? Let me share the story of someone who is not here to tell his own story.

In 1983 after a personal encounter with the risen Lord which resulted in his deliverance from alcohol and substance abuse, my late husband Steve was baptized. As our pastor prayed over him, he prophesied that he would lead thousands of people to the Lord. I had visions of large-scale crusades like those led by Billy Graham where thousands came to the altar to give their lives to the Lord (a bit grandiose, I know).

In the weeks and months that followed, our closest friends and the guys who worked with Steve all gave their lives to the Lord after seeing the miraculous change that occurred in his life. In the nine years he walked with the Lord before he went to his eternal reward in 1992, he never preached a sermon or told his story in front of a large crowd. He simply shared his experience with those around him and his life exhibited the transformation that can happen when Jesus becomes Lord of your life. There are many other stories within that story, encounters with people that witnessed to the change that happened within him, but no large-scale event (or even small-scale event) happened the way I envisioned.

After his death I chalked the “prophecy” up to wishful thinking on the part of the pastor. And for years I never thought about it again. Then along came social media and the chance to connect with people I hadn’t seen or heard from in years. One couple who gave their lives to the Lord after Steve’s dramatic change is still serving the Lord by planting churches in California. Their three daughters are all in ministry with them, another couple from those bygone days is serving the Lord in another part of the country. One by one, as I connected with people from our past, I realized that the lives Steve touched in those few short years were causing a ripple effect. Their lives were touching other lives for Jesus and who knows how many thousands of lives have been touched and changed all because one guy shared his story of Jesus and his love with his friends and co-workers.

What is your story? Maybe it’s not as miraculous as deliverance from substance abuse or some kind of radical transformation. Maybe you grew up in church, began following the Lord at a young age, and never went through a life altering change. You still have a story to tell about Jesus and His love. Take a moment to think about what the Lord has done for you, what He has brought you through and ask God to help you tell the story. Who knows? Your story might be the one that changes someone else’s life and creates a ripple effect.

I’m thankful today that all of our stories are part of the grander story of Jesus and His love. What’s your story? I’d love to hear it! 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

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