June 16 Reflections

A little different slant in the reflections this week. I want to reflect on three snapshots of life. The first is the Relay for Life event this past week in Hawarden. Sue is celebrating 29 years of being cancer free. The year 1990 was a year full of emotions from shock to celebration. For Sue to hear the words, “you have cancer” to “there is no sign of cancer” (after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) triggers that full range of emotions. The story of her experience has led to a chapter of gratitude. Gratitude for seeing our children graduate from high school, college, get married, have children (grandchildren for us). The goodness of God continues to write this chapter of grace. We were also reminded of loss that evening as we walked the lap reading the luminaries; many were in memory of someone who lost the battle to cancer. Some recent, other’s years ago. Some of them we knew, grateful for the impact their lives had on the world, though not sure why so soon they left loved ones. Their courage and strength in the face of cancer still provides inspiration for those who knew them.
 
As Father’s Day approaches, I remember my dad who lost the battle to cancer thirty-five years ago. I was 28 years old at the time. As I was reflecting on that I realized that I have lived more of my life on earth without him than with him. My children did not know him at all. He was not perfect, but I am grateful for his living with honesty and faithfulness. Those lessons still resonate within my heart.
 
The third snapshot is the picture of me returning to First Reformed, Hull to lead worship and preach this coming Sunday. This will be the first time in eight years; the first time since I took a call to Bridge of Hope in Sioux Center. Going back will trigger good memories of joy and celebration as well as some difficult memories of going through struggle and hardship. I know that I am a different person than when I left. God has used life experiences to lead me on a journey of grace that has brought so much change. My life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am who I am. And his grace to me was not without effect.” That effect is the truth that I am Verlyn loved by Jesus full of grace and truth. Seeking to live as one loved looks different than one seeking to earn love. God loves me first…as he does you. Rest there…you cannot earn it; it is gift. I hope to celebrate that gift every day but praying that it would be so this coming Sunday. Just for fun here are several of my favorite Scripture passages to read and reflect on if you desire: 1 Corinthians 15:3-10; Matthew 11:28-302 Corinthians 12:7-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 John 4:16-19
 
Grace upon Grace,
Pastor Verlyn