Pastor Bill’s Blog

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The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

We have been having our share of snow this year, coming a little bit at a time, day after day. Not much for big snowstorms, but we are still needing to deal with it. Winter always reminds me of our snow experiences of the past…

On Monday, January 28, 2013, Sheila and I experienced our first “storm” of that year. I guess it wasn’t really a storm, but definitely a major snow accumulation. Sheila and I drove back from Sioux Falls to our home in Faulkton that night, getting home at 11:30 pm. It had been raining and Hwy 281 was ice-covered for 30 miles. We were so grateful when the rain finally turned to snow, which stuck to the road and gave us better traction. We had stopped in Wolsey where they told us the road north was “really bad” with snow accumulation. I just smiled and thought that couldn’t be nearly as bad as the ice. Famous last words!

By the time we got to Redfield, we were struggling with snow accumulation, but it was nothing like the nightmare of the last 40 miles on Hwy 212. We drove through several inches of heavy wet snow, knowing that if we slowed down or stopped, we would never get moving again. We made it through the 225 miles with prayers and then got stuck in our driveway! I found out why the next day, when 6 inches of snow fell off the underside of the car!

Sheila said she really didn’t want any new “storm stories” for our family, as we already had too many from years ago which are part of our personal history. I would like to share two of those with you—not because they are unique—but because we learned something very important from them.

One spring while we attended SDSU, an Easter blizzard hit that closed the interstate. We really wanted to go home and visit our parents, so we decided to try anyway, taking another route. I had a real Boy Scout mentality at that time of my life, as in “Be Prepared!” So, we had chains on the tires, extra clothing, food, tools, candles, and other survival gear. WE WERE READY! Nothing was going to stop us.

We made it as far as Clark that night. In the process we were stuck in a snow bank, where a guy in a 4WD pickup pulled us out and then traveled with us. We broke a fan belt hitting another snow bank, and the nearby farmer just happened to have the right-sized belt hanging in his barn! Our tire chains came apart, but the garage in Clark had just the right stuff for us to fix them. We did get home the next day, but never wanted to go through a trip like that again!

Several years later, while driving to work in another town, I went into the ditch in the middle of a snowstorm. Again, I was well equipped for survival. I knew a farm family lived only a mile away, so I walked to their farm. All I could see was the white line on the edge of the highway a few feet in front of me. I found their mailbox and headed toward their house but became disoriented in their trees. Finally I looked up in the sky and saw the sun through the ground blizzard, regained my sense of direction and found their house, though I was only three feet away before I saw it.

My storm experiences taught me a lesson. It’s the same lesson the disciples learned in the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Mark 4:35-41:

35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.

37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"  41They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

There is nothing wrong with being prepared for the storms of the future, but being prepared can also make us feel like we are in control. We think that we don’t need the help of others, or even God’s help; we think we are self-sufficient. In our area of the country, we value those who seem to be self-sufficient and can take care of themselves. But the truth is that none of us can ever be that self-sufficient; none of us is really in control of our lives. We survived these storms, not because of our preparation, but by of the grace of God! If it hadn’t been for the farmer with the belt or the guy in the 4WD pickup, we never would have made it home…no matter how prepared we were. If it hadn’t been for God Himself showing me the sun in the sky, I would have been lost in that blizzard.

Jesus showed the disciples in the story in Mark that only God was in control, that God did care, that God did love them, and that God would make “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8: 28)

I learned a valuable lesson from my storm experiences. While it is good to have a plan and be prepared, that doesn’t mean we are in control or self-sufficient. God loves us and sent Jesus Christ to prove it. Through His death on the cross, God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. God took away our guilt and freed us from the power of sin. God restored our relationship with Him in Jesus Christ and made us aware of our need to trust and depend on God and on the support of others.
Pastor Bill

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Pastor Bill Hoffman
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