"Pastor Charlie Woodward", "Charlie Woodward"Pastor Charlie Woodward writes a daily devotion for the pandemic days until things are back to “normal,” whenever that may be. As the title states, we are in the wilderness alone, but we are still together. We may feel isolated and on our own. But we are in this together. I want to make sure we have an opportunity to stay connected. Each devotion will include a Bible verse, a brief reflection and prayer.  

Find a link to each day’s devotion below, or sign up here to receive the devotions to your inbox every morning. Choose the Devotions distribution list.

This is an opportunity for us to be present with each other in the days to come. You can be present by sharing your comments, insights, prayers and pictures in response to what Pastor Charlie shares in the coming days. For we are in this together. And where two or three are gathered in God’s name, God is present, too.

Whose Hands?

Matthew 14:22-33 
 
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
 
28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
 
 

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

I have a standard answer for those who think that I can control the weather since I am a pastor and have a “direct line to God” (I don’t have any better connection than you!). My response is always, “I am in sales, not management!”
 
This act of Jesus, on the heals of feeding the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, shows that this one is not just a healer, but Jesus has the ability to still the storm. This one who has this power also has the compassion to reach down and pull us up when we are sinking and our faith fails us. This is the one who holds us and promises to never let go.
 

Here is a poem for today.

 

WHOSE HANDS by Kevin Burden, edited by Charlie Woodward
 

A basketball in my hands is worth about $25.

A basketball in LaBron James’ hands is worth about $120 million.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

A golf ball in my hand is worth about $1.

A golf ball in Rory McElroy’s hand is worth $5 million.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

A tennis racket is useless in my hands.

A tennis racket in Serena Williams’ hands is a Wimbledon Championship.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.

A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy.

A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

Nails in my hands might produce a door stop – and it may take a while for me to get it done.

Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.

It depends whose hands it’s in.

 

As you see now it depends whose hands it’s in.

So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams,

your families and your relationships in God’s hands because …

It depends whose hands it’s in. 

 

Instead of trying to hold on to God, let God hold on to you!

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, remind me again and again that I am not in charge. Help me to put my trust in you! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


There is Hope

Psalm 85:8-13 
 

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,

    for he will speak peace to his people,

    to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,

    that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;

    righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,

    and righteousness will look down from the sky.

12 The Lord will give what is good,

    and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness will go before him,

    and will make a path for his steps.
 

 

What a beautiful imagery this is.
 

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;

Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,

    and righteousness will look down from the sky.

 

From “The Message” Translation:
 

Love and Truth meet in the street,

    Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!

Truth sprouts green from the ground,

    Right Living pours down from the skies!
 
There is hope that God will continue to bring creation back to what God has intended. There is hope that the days will come when embracing and kissing of God’s goodness, as well as embracing and kissing that has been taken away from us the past five months will happen once again.
 
There is hope.
 
The psalmist writes, “Surely his salvation is at hand…” Salvation, or to be saved means to be made whole, complete, well. We look forward to the day when our world will be made well, and there will be healing and wholeness.
 
I know that the news doesn’t seem to get any better. I know there are more questions than answers. I know that there is a longing for “back to normal.” I know we yearn for the day we can watch movies and shows and not cringe when we see people embrace instead of social distancing. We long for the day when we can be at a sporting event in a crowded stadium or in a packed theater without fear. We wish for the opportunity to shop and be able to smile at those we see without a mask blocking our expressions.
 
The words of the psalmist were written thousands of years ago. Thousands. And yet, they speak to us today.
 
There is hope. God has not abandoned us. God will come and save you and me. Salvation. We will be made well. Healing and wholeness will be ours.
 
Let us listen to what the Lord has to say.
 
There is hope.
 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, Let me hear what you will speak. We long for your salvation. Come to us, abide with us, comfort and make us whole. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.