Our congregation had its annual campout last week, which is always a blessed time of extended fellowship, campfire stories and singing, and new memories. Though some cannot understand why you would leave the comforts of home to sleep on the hard ground (well, some sleep on the hard ground – I use an air mattress), being outdoors for two days is restorative. Though I always come home bone-tired, this form of recreation lives up to its name. It re-creates a sense of wonder at God’s handiwork. I especially rejoiced in this the first night when I awoke to the haunting hooting of an owl, and later to the mournful howl of a coyote. It was worth missing a little more sleep. Now the belching boys and giggling girls, that’s a different story…
I thoroughly enjoyed David Murray’s recent post “King Salmon Taught Me How to Learn” for the lesson on humility he shared as well as the great pictures of his catches. It reminded me of the time a few falls ago when a friend took my son and me fishing on Lake Michigan for salmon (king and cohoe) and lake trout. The excitement of the feel of the pull of a large fish on the end of the line, with the others on board urging you on as you reel in the catch, is in a small way akin to the joy of working to bring others to Christ. When Jesus told those disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men,” one way of thinking about this is that He was calling them to replace one joy with a far greater one.
We became dog owners last week. Amazing how a promise to let the kids have a dog when we moved became fulfilled months prior to its due date, the unrelenting reminders from my youngest daughter coupled with the irresistible pressure of my wife’s side of the family overwhelming my resolve. (I use that with my wife when he needs to go outside in the middle of the night and when she’s feeling a little “dog-tired.”) So a four month-old puppy named Oscar now resides with us. As a Covenanter pastor, I’m almost ashamed to tell you that the breed is, ahem, a King Charles Spaniel named after, yes, King Charles II, seen with them as a youngster in the picture above. To add insult to injury, the American breed of the dog, which varies slightly with more of a pug nose, is differentiated by being called a Cavalier King Charles. Well, regardless, Oscar is pretty cute despite the irony of his breed’s misnomer.
Recently I reflected on the story again of John G. Paton, nineteenth century missionary to the New Hebrides Islands. He was being opposed by some of his fellow churchmen in Scotland about going to the remote mission field, and one elderly, dignified gentleman exclaimed, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!” To this Paton replied, “Mr. Dixon, you are advanced in years now and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms. I confess to you that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether my body is eaten by cannibals or by worms.” Only one consumed with the gospel could talk in such a manner.