May 23, 2005

Sunday Afternoon Hike

I substitute taught today, and came home with a raging headache. I'd like to write something original here about the fun I had hiking with three youth yesterday after church, but instead, I'm going to post a devotion I wrote for a weekly email that comes out of my church's regional office. I hope you like it.

I pulled over and parked the car at the intersection of Highway 49 and Old Foresthill Road. Twenty yards away, the dark blue waters of the middle fork of the American River, and the light blue waters of the north fork, merged together violently. The water levels were high, much higher than normal. The power of that water was great, and for the past several days, news reports have been warning people to use caution.

I stepped out of the car, along with three youth who had joined me for a short, Sunday afternoon hike on a trail that stayed well above the water's edge. I looked upstream, and imagined the high peaks of the Sierra, where these rivers have their origin. Up there, snow is melting. Drip. Drip. Drip. That's how these mighty waters begin: one drop at a time, and yet all those drops create something wonderful, something powerful.

As the four of us began our walk, we couldn't help but look up toward the sky. Towering 700 feet above us was the Foresthill Bridge. One week before, over 200 of us crossed that bridge on our way to dedication ceremonies for the new Irvin Dining Hall at CGC. Many more than 200 people made possible the building of that dining hall. For most, the contribution was not the work of a lifetime, or a five- or six-figure check. Mostly, the contributions came in one drop at a time; but without those drops, there would be no river; there would be no dining hall.

I thought of my own congregation, and the other congregations of our region. As pastor, I often focus on the big picture, the raging river at the bottom of the canyon. However, on that hike along the American River, I realized that so much ministry happens in ways that are hidden from my eyes, one prayer, one hug, one phone call at a time. Every person has a ministry, and though it may at times feel like nothing more than a drop in a very large bucket, without those drops, there would be no ministry.

As I looked at the spring flow of the American River, I gave thanks to God for all that happens, one drop at a time.

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