Hello, Friends! I hope this first E-Note of October finds you well!
It was 1983. The minimum wage was $2.50 per hour. And there was no “time-and-a-half” after 40 hours.
But I was lucky to get the summer job on the catfish farm. Times were hard in the Delta.
I was hired to be an oxygen checker. I worked alone, all night, every night, wading into the water, the cottonmouths, and the mosquitoes, checking the oxygen content of 70 catfish ponds. My workday began each afternoon at 4:30. I was relieved at 7:00 the next morning. Seven days a week.
I eventually got used to it, wading in and out of 70 ponds, multiple times per night. I got used to the mosquitoes and the stifling Delta humidity. I even got used to the snakes. Mostly.
What scares me still today is that I also got used to working Sundays.
Sunday was just another day, on the farm. Just another 14 1/2 hours of a 101-hour workweek.
Fortunately, a guy doesn’t wade into snake-filled water 300 times per night (25,000 times for the summer!) without getting a revelation or two. Here’s what I arrived at.
- It’s easy to forget that God created us to be “on 6, off 1”.
- After a while, even a 20-year-old body starts breaking down, physically and emotionally. For sure, spiritually.
- After about 80 hours, I’d start getting careless. Not a good thing where venomous cottonmouths, water, solitude, darkness, and a Honda 3-wheeler are involved.
- After a while, I forgot what I was working for.
When God invented the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8: “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work.”), He was giving a GIFT of a weekly DAY OFF to people who had been enslaved for hundreds of years! None of the Israelites had ever had a day off in their entire lives! Neither had their parents or grandparents. It was a gift.
Yet, God had to COMMAND them to observe the sabbath.
Fast forward some 2,000 years to the Old Testament prophet Nehemiah. God reveals to Nehemiah that the reason He (God) is no longer blessing the Israelites, God’s Chosen People, is because they started treating the Sabbath like it was just another day! Consider: “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the sabbath day? Did not your ancestors act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” (13:18, NRSV)
Look, I know it’s football season. And deer season. And whatever-else season. But for WHAT, really, are we selling out the 4th Commandment?
As some great Facebook prophet has observed, “Church should be our reason to miss everything else, not vice versa.”
As we focus on the importance of Sabbath in our worship services on Sunday, I surely hope God’s House is full. It never works out well when we treat the Lord’s Day as just another day.
Join us in worship, in person if possible, online if necessary. But join us.
Let not the temptation to wade with the snakes hinder you from worship.
(That’s not a Proverb, but it ought to be!)
Here’s some good news: Our Sanctuary’s aging (if it was a car, our sound system would qualify for an “antique” license tag!) sound system has been evaluated by Pro Concert Sound. We are awaiting their estimate. The REALLY good news: A generous church member, who prefers to remain anonymous, has pledged to pay for it!
God is so good!
Speaking of God’s goodness, I’m out of commission for a few days following sinus surgery on Monday. It was my last resort after 7 months of being sick, 3 rounds of antibiotics and 3 rounds of steroids. I trust I’ll be better than ever soon!
In the meantime, I have secured our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Raigan Miskelly, to fill in for me in our Wednesday Night Adult Bible Study. Raigan is a great teacher, and I encourage you to come and study “Jacob Wrestles the Angel (?)”, Genesis 32:22-32!
I’ll be back to preaching on Sunday, October 9, as we tackle the subject of “Sabbath”!
For now, that’s it for this week’s E-Note. Have a great day, and remember,
Today is the oldest you have ever been; today is the youngest you will ever be.