eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of September 5 thru September 11, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Jim Teague,
FPCE director of communications.

Dear friends,

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
– Psalm 46:1-3

One of my sons recently needed a series of procedures done by a podiatrist to correct a problem with one of his big toes. I won’t tell you which son it was (but you can say Hi to him at the front desk on Sunday mornings).

The thing about podiatry is it doesn’t lend itself well to tele-medicine (online visits using a webcam), for many reasons. Sure, you can take off your socks and point your webcam at the floor, but it takes a fair bit of flexibility to get the feet close to the camera (though I guess it might make more sense to move the camera to the feet). Secondly, describing the discomfort is far less effective than letting the doctor make a close-up inspection of the toe itself. In the case of my son’s toe, the ongoing problem had the risk of becoming infected and it took a little poking and prodding by the doctor (and occasional wincing by my son) to make sure there weren’t any major underlying complications.

The doctor determined the best way to relieve my son’s discomfort would involve removing a fair bit of the toenail and some of the skin on the side of the toe. Our podiatrist is amazing and Daniel (oops!) is much tougher than his father when it comes to discomfort, and after a few visits and a couple of procedures it looks as though he will be able to keep the toe (and still wear sandals).

But all of that involved the doctor getting up close and personal with Daniel and his toe. While technology is amazing (drones are now delivering medicine and food to isolated COVID patients in Indonesia), we have yet to develop either the DIY toe anesthesia and toenail saw kit or the remote surgery Zoom add-on.

My point is there are just certain tasks that need in-person contact to be helpful and effective. And that is especially true when you are in physical, emotional, or spiritual pain.

We’ve been blessed to maintain our fellowship throughout the pandemic with amazing technology, faithful volunteers, and patient congregants. Some of us are still needing to take part from afar, and we long for the day when we are reunited as one body celebrating God’s goodness and pursuing his purposes together.

Here at First Pres, we have been looking at the Psalms each Sunday morning this summer. This week, Rev. Henry Coates will be teaching on Psalm 146 (confusing, I know) and leading us to consider what we are created for.

As referenced at the beginning, Psalm 46 is one of my all-time favorites (though, on any given day, who can choose, right?). Back in 1992 (in the age of cassette tapes and boom boxes), a song came out called “There is a River” using the Psalm as its lyrics. You can listen to it on Spotify or sing along with the lyrics on YouTube. To this day, I find myself regularly playing it on my phone or computer whenever I am either troubled or otherwise seeking God’s peace.

I have always been struck by the juxtaposition of the promise of God’s presence and the immensity of the troubles described there.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…

And what is the result of his presence? Our troubles are not removed, but rather it is our fear which flees.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

I am constantly in search of stability and consistency in life. Unless change suddenly involves a free vacation to London—and even that seems unwise these days—I’m good with keeping things on a steady footing, safe at home.

I am all in favor of mountains in the sea resisting the urge to shake (no tsunamis, thank you), waters staying calm and foam free. While we’re at it, pandemics don’t thrill me, political strife gets me hot and bothered, and a general feeling that the next shoe is going to drop any day now makes me weak in the knees.

Change is sure to come. Like toe pain and uncomfortable procedures to make it better. But God is our refuge.

These past weeks in our Summer in the Psalms teaching series we’ve been giving a few scriptural reminders:

Psalm 85:1-13 – The Lord is rich in mercy and hears our cries for renewal
Psalm 23 – God is the Good Shepherd, and we are created to rest in his care
Psalm 14 – The focus of the fool (the one who loses sight of God) is revealed in their character and fate
Psalm 51:1-12 – David’s confession of sin in Psalm 51 gives hope to all of us when we fall
Psalm 34:1-8 – Thanksgiving as a lifestyle leads us to worship our great God
Psalm 34:9-22 – A blessed life is not without troubles but comes from fearing God, turning from evil and bringing our cares before him
Psalm 84:1-12 – Peace for our restlessness is found in God’s presence
Psalm 15 – Escaping hell is not the primary goal of God’s salvation; he calls us to lives of worship and devotion to him

If you missed any of these teachings, you can find the audio for them here in our weekly podcasts.

We are heading into our new Fall season, and with that comes new events, new learning opportunities, and probably more than our fair share of challenges.

Thank goodness God does not wish to be far off from us, or meet us online from a distance as we describe our pains and concerns (it’s nice to know God will always make house calls)! He desires and promises to be close to us in the midst of all life has to offer, good and bad.

We are looking forward to seeing you this Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary or online.

Jim Teague
FPCE director of communications

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