April 24, 2015
My time serving as a pastor at Ocean View Methodist has recently come to an end and I have been reflecting on the years and all God taught me there. We came to know South Africa as home while serving at that church and it became a home for us and our growing children. Leaving is painful, especially as the future is not clear, but obedience to God is everything and we know He will light the path.
I love to reflect and wrap things up and that is what I did in my last sermon at Ocean View Methodist two weeks ago. I reflected on Exodus 17 where God’s people find themselves in a battle that could only be victorious when Moses’ hands were lifted in prayer. After the battle was won, Moses received a new name for God: Jehovah Nissi or “God is my banner.” God wanted them to remember what He had done for them and that in HIM was always the victory. A banner or flag has been used throughout history to declare a party’s victory or meaning, and it still remains its purpose. I felt led by God to declare what my banners were over my time in Ocean View. If I had a flag to fly about what God taught me while serving his people at OCean View Methodist, what would it be?
My BANNER and my VICTORY in Ocean View would be:
1. We are GROUNDED by the Word of God
We have encountered many challenges during our five years living in Ocean View and walked with many families through their own desperate times. Through these challenges we have seen that ONLY the word of God provides light, hope, and vision. ONLY the Word of God helps His people to see His truth and face and guide through the darkness. Only God’s word speaks fresh into dead situations and total darkness. There is nothing sweeter, there is nothing richer, there is nothing more true, and there is no other way to hear the heart of God than to go to His Word. God’s Word is my banner and that is my victory.
2. Our Obedience Brings Blessing
I heard this truth years ago from Beth Moore and it was something I believed I lived by. I have however learned that obedience is truly difficult and calls us not just to outwardly look like we are following Jesus but inwardly as well. I have to completely trust Jesus and give him every part of my life in order to show that I am truly following His heart. It’s about the state of my heart in the follow not just the footsteps I am leaving. Obedience is following HEART AND SOUL and I have learned that while living here. Obedience brings blessing is my banner and my victory.
3. God’s Love Always Wins
When I came to South Africa I thought it was so that I could love the people here, but instead they have taught ME what love really looks like. In the community of Ocean View there is a great deal of hurt and it is certainly a truth here that ‘hurt people HURT PEOPLE.” Most often the people we hurt the most are those who love us the most. This has been true in the families I have served here. I have personally been hurt and seen them hurt one another, but out of that something has shone through that I didn’t expect. What defines the people in Ocean View Methodist is not their hurt but truly the way they love even though they have been hurt. They love despite the hurt. They love through the hurt. They love those who least deserve it, including me. No matter how dark it has gotten in Ocean View I have seen my friends choose love and it has taught me that truly, love ALWAYS WINS. Love conquering all is my banner and my victory.
I am so thankful for what God has written on my heart and life as I have served at Ocean View Methodist Church. It’s hard to imagine our life and family apart from this church but I am certain that the relationships will continue to grow and flourish for years to come. My heart is filled with gratitude for all God has shown me over the years atOcean View Methodist. JESUS and HIS LOVE is my banner and my victory.