“. . . useful . . .”         

“In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. Those who make themselves clean from all those evil things, will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.” (II Timothy 2:20-21)

This past weekend Patti and I traveled to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania so I could perform a wedding.  We arrived Friday afternoon for the rehearsal and discovered the temperature was -7 with a windchill of -25.  When we checked the weather on our IPhones we saw urgent alerts about the cold, warning folks that with temperatures that low exposed skin could succumb to frostbite within 30 minutes.  I spotted this tree on the bank of the frozen lake as we were walking to our room and I began to wonder . . .

My skin could be severely damaged by this cold within 30 minutes – not very long at all in the grand scheme of things.  Yet this tree, also a living entity, stands by the shores of the frozen lake 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and lives to bloom and thrive every spring.  It is exposed to the harshest winds and temperatures yet manages to spring forth to life and fulfill whatever its purpose might be – whether it’s offering shade for a picnic, functioning as a pole for tying up boats, or supplying a small branch for roasting marshmallows.  The miracle in all of this is that God created each living thing with certain attributes suited for its purpose.  We can’t stand by a frozen lake all day in the freezing wind and offer support for someone trying to step out onto the frozen ice, but we can offer loving support for someone whose heart has been frozen by hurt, crisis, or bad decisions. 

I’m convinced that we were created by God to be suited for loving – to be loved by God and to offer love to one another.  As humans we are endowed by God with unique, amazing attributes like the ability to forgive, the ability to see the best in someone even when they can’t see it for them self, and so much more.  Because we have these special attributes as part of God’s creation of so many living organisms, we also have special opportunities and responsibilities.  That tree is suited to withstand the treacherous winter storms and still bear life.  We are suited to withstand the treacherous storms of conflict, betrayal, crisis, and hurt – and still have the ability to bear life in our loving.

Barring some unforeseen catastrophe that tree beside the frozen lake will use its unique gifts to display the miracle of new life this spring as it unfolds its leaves. Can the same be said for us?  Will we use our unique, God-given gifts to celebrate life and offer it to others through the love of God made known for us in Jesus?  I pray that God will always help me use my gifts to bear life.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on January 8, 2014.

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