A Message from Pastor Craig

Did you know that bears eat oranges? I didn’t until Janice looked it up on her phone on our last venture across State Rd. 70. Have you driven that way across the state? It’s an odyssey in Floricana (the spell checker didn’t like that word – you know what I mean: the Florida version of Americana).

You go through Indiantown (I know, it’s not on 70, but from here you have to go by it), and Okeechobee and Arcadia, which are all throwback towns of a more rural and simple life. They also express the modern realities of our country with the realities of farmworkers in our state, immigration issues and the like. They speak to the Florida of yesterday and today.

And then there’s just the vastness of the, I don’t know, prairie? The miles of open area are reminiscent of the Everglades, but it’s dry (for the most part, after all it is north of the lake). Driving amongst those pastures, and acres upon acres of sod farms and orange groves, Janice noticed this last time (we’ve been back and forth a lot over the last two months) a warning sign for bears. Bears?

I’ve seen bears in western New York. Walking on Janice’s family hunting grounds, I’ve come too close to them.  Driving around that area I’ve seen them on the road too. You stop for bears in the woods and on the highway. But in Florida?! Hence Janice’s google search. And yup, they eat oranges. And they’ve got just a couple of oranges out there on Rt. 70!

If the bears made me cringe a little, the cows made me laugh. Brahma bulls, brown cows (not the drink), and black cows dot many of the fields out there. I found many of them lying on the ground. I suppose if I had to be out in that heat, I would lie down too. The most settled ones lay in the ponds.  That’s what made me laugh.

If I had to drink from that water, I would not be happy that Bessy sat herself down in the “water bowl.” Think yellow water at the water park. The farmers have these huge blue pool-like containers to water their herds. I would drink from those things
exclusively once I saw one of my own in the pond!

As humans we know (save that one obnoxious kid in grade school) that it’s inconsiderate to just plop yourself down (so to speak) in the water like that. We know that water needs to be untroubled to be potable, and we know not to impose our
comfort on the needs of others. But it’s tempting sometimes, right? Sometimes our opinions, our will, our wants can crowd into the life of other people, and we have to choose what to do. As humans, we know not only what we can do, but what we ought to do. Sometimes those are two very different things. OK, maybe it’s not just sometimes. The apostle Paul flat out said in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” We know we ought not to do something, but we do it anyway.  We know we should do some things, and we don’t. Paul is kind to himself (and us) when he says he “doesn’t understand” his attitude. I’m afraid I do understand my own. My preference, my wants, too often trump what I know is right. Think of that big chocolate cookie sitting in the fridge – you know you shouldn’t add all that sugar to your body, but…

In that Romans text Paul talks about sin. When he wrote to his friend Titus, he encouraged everyone “to malign no one, and to be peaceable and gentle, showing full consideration to everyone” (Titus 3:2).  I think we can be completely counter-cultural if we were to show “full consideration to everyone.”  This is not what we see in American culture today.  And God has shown us a better way. Let’s try it. Let’s sit BY the pool, not IN the pool.

Flying along in my U-Haul,

Craig

 Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend. Proverbs 22:11 (NLT)