December 18, 2020
Rev. Terry Goodman
Secretary of the Annual Conference/Director of Clergy Services
Smoky Mountain District
Psalm 89:19-2619 Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him;
the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn[a] will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
DevotionOne of the things I used to enjoy was going to the beach and building sandcastles. I like to think that I was a pretty good sandcastle engineer. I was really into walls and moats. I wanted to put up barriers and trenches that would protect the main body – the castle. I could work for hours, but in the end all my valiant and heroic sandcastle building efforts were to no avail. I would build away from the waves, but the tide would come in and my efforts would be to no avail. The waves would crash down, and the walls would fail. By the next day my sandcastle, and my efforts at building one, were nowhere to be seen.
I suppose that I was learning a valuable lesson in futility. I was learning that my abilities and efforts could not overcome the forces of nature that abounded in the ceaseless waves crashing moment by moment onto the shores.
Yet life is not futile – if you have the right perspective.
I was struck by the words of Psalm 89:19-26. In these seven short verses I learn that my human strength and ambition pale in comparison to what God can do. Look at these phrases:
“I have bestowed…”
“I have raised up…”
“I have found…”
“I have anointed…”
“My hand will sustain…”
“…my arm will strengthen”
"I will crush…”
“I will set…”
The person of action – the “I” in these verses - is God. It is not told from a human perspective but from God’s perspective. If God is truly capable of doing all these things, if God is truly the source of all power and strength in my life, then I need to quit building spiritual sandcastles and learn to stand strong and secure on the rock of what God can do. This is the hope that I have. I live not by my own strength but by the strength and power of the God.
As the Extended Cabinet engages in a weekly study on Dismantling Racism, I can’t help but think about the sandcastles that I have made to combat racism. My efforts are meek. My efforts are futile. My efforts lack the strength to make a difference. But, I don’t have to rely on just my efforts. Racism is a problem that is an affront to God and I must learn to stop relying solely on my efforts at dismantling it. The societal forces will come and knock down my sandcastle attempts, but my hope is not in my ability to overcome, but in the ability of the strong arm of God that will raise up and help me—help us—combat the sin of racism that we fight against.