September 2, 2015 Ponder
We normally connect “blessing” with “abundance,” but I have been thinking about the benefits of having less and facing challenges. The natural world teaches us these principles. Large trees have roots that grow far into the earth, often around rocks and through hard ground, to find nourishment. Life in a sandy environment would be a lot easier, but they would not be able to stand when hard winds blow.
Some of the most beautiful plants grow in the desert where water is scarce and the sun beats down. We could say that those plants thrive on scarcity and adversity. I am fascinated by a tree that appears to be hanging on the side of a rocky hill. Somehow it sends roots deep into the cracks between the rocks and anchors itself to handle the challenges of wind and weather.
Our good friends and former neighbors, Ray and Betty Whipps, shared their story in a recently released book titled, ’Til We Meet Again: A Memoir of Love and War. Ray was a “boots on the ground” soldier in Europe during World War II, and Betty was a nurse in a military hospital. Ray was wounded and was cared for by Betty, who later became his wife.
The story has such a happy conclusion, but their journey was filled with scarcity and adversity. Ray spent time in a German prison and probably would have died there had the war continued. Betty was faithful to her assignments. Both Ray and Betty had a strong faith in God and a commitment to following Jesus. This month they will celebrate 70 years of marriage. Carol and I so admire them and appreciate their influence in our lives.
Our culture does not encourage a life of scarcity and adversity. We are bombarded continually with ways to avoid difficulty and enjoy pleasure. “You deserve better” is a common theme in advertising in what some people have labeled an “entitlement mentality.” And while I enjoy pleasure and ease as much as anyone, I admit to finding it way too easy to look for the quick way out of a situation rather than seeing the benefit of toughing it out.
The Bible is filled with examples of people who lived within the boundaries of scarcity and adversity. The prophets who told us about Messiah Jesus, and Jesus Himself, lived with limited resources and continual adversity. I live a life of ease compared to them. But I admire their example and appreciate their commitment. And I am glad to know people like Ray and Betty Whipps, who put into practice the principle of deep roots developed through difficult times. I am a better man for having known them.
Pastor Bill Ehmann