I have struggled to come up with a newsletter article that felt appropriate for this time in our lives. We are experiencing – and indeed living – events that are new in our life time. A global pandemic, an election season that never seems to end, a powerful movement for justice and equality, a twenty-four-hour news cycle, and social media that makes everyone feel like they have to be an expert – all these combine to create today. I have thought a lot about what to write and trashed more versions than I care to remember. I decided to come to the office today to write. I was hoping that getting out of the house in a safe way would create an environment where appropriate words would come. On my way here, something happened.

I was running later than I had hoped. That cut into my time to write. I was one block from the church already thinking about how I still had nothing to say when a doe ran across the road. I was not speeding, but I did have to get on the breaks a bit. She was doing that awesome leaping thing deer do as they run. She reached tall grass on the other side and stopped. She turned to look back across the street. I had not moved because I suspected there would be more deer. Sure enough, two good sized deer were following her. Up from the grass they came, leaping and bounding across the street to the tall grass. They were too old to be called fawns, but they definitely seemed like her children.  She waited for them. She did not run off. She did not seem agitated. She showed them the way and they trusted her. I sat for a few more moments making sure there were no other critters coming before going on up the road to the church. I could not help but think of God in that moment. It was not so much the shock of deer in what is mostly a residential area. It was not even so much their natural beauty. I thought of God because of the way the doe led and the children followed.

In the midst of today, battling depression, anxiety, desire to help, and a sense of helplessness, I need someone to follow. So much of what we are encumbered by is others telling us how to follow and which way to go. We are also pressured to pretend or to actually convince ourselves that we know best which way to go and how to get there. As a follower of Jesus, I trust that only God knows the path I should follow. In this time of many questions and perhaps too many answers we should be more willing than ever to trust and follow. Like young deer following Mom sometimes we just have to follow with leaps and bounds trusting in Mom’s love. 

I believe it is clear that the overriding attribute of God is love. In the midst of a pandemic, let us love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. Let us love others enough to take care of them considering their needs as important as ours. Let us answer God’s call to justice and equality. Let us not be blown around and stirred up by every comment of every politician or poster on social media. Instead let us follow God. Let us follow Jesus who went before us to prepare a way and who now looks back with encouragement and grace that we might follow. God even sent us the Holy Spirit that we would not have to follow alone but under the same power as Jesus. The way of love is dangerous. It is risky. Our Lord, who alone holds the keys of hell and death, knows that the real risk is not what might happen when we choose love, but what will happen if we do not.

I do not want to give the impression that I think this choice to follow God is easy. It is not. I know many of us are experiencing hardships like we have never known and I fully admit I am too. I hope that in reading this little article you might remember that God’s way may look risky, but that the yoke is easy and the burden is light. I can image Jesus out just ahead of the next daunting day, beckoning us forward in love. I can image the possibilities of love that abound today. How many people could we help? How much change could real love create in our society? I can also imagine – but I do not know – where crossing the road of fully following God will lead us. I am, however, wiling to trust that it will be a better place than were we are now. 

So let us join together this month in recommitting ourselves to following the way of love like young deer following Mom. Our God has shown time and time again that God is trustworthy, willing, and able to lead us to greener pastures and to transform this world with love. 

Let us follow leaping and bounding,

Pastor Jimmy Hendricks
pastorjimmy@nolensvilleumc.org