Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

I don’t live in a Pollyanna world. I see more heartache and death than the average person. I hear stories, tear-filled stories and confessions, that leave one sad and emotionally exhausted.

The human journey is beautiful and dangerous, our days are marked by monotony, exuberating highs, and tragic lows. No human escapes this reality, and even if we love Jesus, we are destined to face despair, depression, and death. I do not live with a Pollyanna view of the world.

Having said that, the year ahead of us resembles a toddler taking its first steps; there will be falls and a few boo boos, but soon the child will learn to walk and soon they will run like the wind. The year ahead is young, the possibilities for the remaining 49 weeks of 2023 are seemingly endless. The daily news is not generally encouraging: there is reason for great concern as we observe a troubled environment, a shaky economy, a dysfunctional government, war in Eastern Europe, and the endless saber rattling of assorted madmen.

Now look around. In all of human history there has never been a better, safer, or more secure time to live on Whidbey Island than 2023. Our refrigerators are full. Our highways are safe, our healthcare system (though strained) is among the finest in the world, the ferries run most of the time, we live with freedom of speech and movement. We have more opportunity for travel and adventure. We have access to the world’s greatest literary works from the comfort of our homes.

To be honest, if the only news we ever heard was Whidbey Island news, we would have little anxiety and more joy. Pretty much everyone you meet is kind, they have stories, they carry burdens, they wish you no harm.

I do not live with a Pollyanna view of the world, I try to keep informed about the events in the world and I try to keep focused on those things that are actually in my control. I ask myself each morning, “What is it that I can do this day? What is it that I can do to today that will serve my health, my family, and my community?”

I make lists each morning, and then I try to live that day with purpose and intention. Sometimes life happens, and at the end of the day nothing on my morning list is checked off; but as the sun sets, I say my prayers, and if I make it through the night I make a new list for a new day.

There is very little that any of us can do to stop Putin’s war, but in 2022 we did give more than $100,000 to assist the innocent Ukrainian refugees and civilian victims of the war. It is unlikely that God will call any of us to go to impoverished or disaster devastated lands, but in 2022 we gave $50,000 in natural disaster assistance to our global neighbors.

Hold on to hope! Do not be distracted by those things that are out of your control. Hold on to hope, focus on the possibilities, make a difference where you live, and with those that you live with. Hold on to hope; together we have survived and thrived through the pandemic chaos of the past three years. I believe that we will continue to survive and thrive in 2023, IF we hold on to hope.

Hope is inspired by gathering to hear God’s Word, to sing hymns of praise, to sit at the feet of our marvelous musicians, and to break bread with our sisters and brothers as we share our humanity. I invite you to come to TLC this coming Sunday morning for a booster dose of HOPE.

Much love,
Pastor Jim

[email protected]