by Andrew McDowell
Artist: Paige Payne
The morning of May 1, 2022 did not start off well. I went to the gym to swim, after which I would go to church and read scripture. Except it wasn’t until after I arrived at the gym that I realized I’d forgotten my reading. The whole routine of the morning had become uncoordinated.
So I drove back to the house, without plugging my iPod into the car, per usual, but I felt I had to compromise to save time. When I got home, I nearly picked up the wrong papers. But I got the right one, went back to the gym, and I swam. However, I was still hasty when I started driving to church. I forgot to plug the iPod into the car again. But in my anxiety and fear of being late, as I kept telling myself I was going to be late, something happened.
I put my trust in God. I trusted God to get me there on time. I thought of missing my usual snacks at the church’s contemporary worship. But I remembered and thought about how Jesus fed a crowd with only five loaves and five fish, and how he told his disciples that God provided for the wild animals who neither reaped nor sowed. I kept thinking about these things as I drove, and I did get to church before the service started.
After parking, I walked toward the church, and I prayed again. In the past, I’d felt anxious about time during services, and I’d felt upset toward others. But I prayed that I would not be overcome by such thoughts and fears this time. I prayed that my mind and heart would be open toward others.
I was able to have what was at that time my usual refreshments from the snacks offered at Nichols-Bethel United Methodist Church’s contemporary service: half a blueberry muffin and a small bottle of orange juice. When I sat down in my seat with these refreshments, I started eating and I studied the scripture I was supposed to read—John 21:1–9
It was when Jesus appeared to his disciples after they’d had a night with no luck fishing. He instructed them to let their nets down again, and they caught so many fish that they realized it was the Lord Risen. Peter swam to him, and they all came ashore and ate together, and Christ asked Peter three times if he loved him.
In that moment, as I sat there, I was overwhelmed. Their fishing endeavor hadn’t gotten off to a good start, just like my day. Peter swam to Christ, just as I had gone swimming at the gym. They came ashore and ate in Christ’s company, just as I’d made it to church and was eating in that moment in a house of God. These parallels were no coincidence. I knew that right away. I was so moved that when I read, my own experiences were in my mind.
Pastor Katie spoke of forgiveness after sin, as well as new boundaries as a result. Like other times, this sermon connected with something going on in my own life. At the end of the day, I realized—I’d learned—God had gotten me through my worst days so far, and he would continue to do so in the future.
I felt the presence of God on May 1, 2022