How to Have Energy for the New Year, Part 2:
Put Some of These in Your Backpack
January 20, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
1I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
4Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
5You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
7Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
11Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning!
I want to talk with you today about how to have energy for this new year. This is the second part in our series, and the title of this message is “Put Some of These in Your Backpack.”
Last week, we were exploring the wonderful words of the prophet Isaiah. Do you remember what he said? He said, “The former things have come to pass.” We talked about the idea that all of us carry an invisible backpack with us that we put on in the morning when we leave the house. What’s in the backpack? Well, it carries the tools for the day – our experience, our skills, and our knowledge. But also in that backpack are other things – feelings, attitudes, maybe some fears. We talked about going into that backpack and taking out the stumbling stones, the wounds, the regrets, thanking God for the lessons that those stumbling stones have taught us, and then putting them by the side of the road where they can’t hurt us or anybody else anymore. And we have energy, because our backpacks are lighter.
Today I’d like to talk about what we’re going to put in that backpack to replace those stumbling stones. What are we going to put in that backpack to give us energy for the new year? Here’s the image I’d like to share with you: open up that backpack and put in stars. Put in stars! Think of sparkling orbs of light, wonderful, energetic, beautiful orbs, sparkling with rainbow colors. Put stars in your backpack. Stars are the symbol of lifting up; stars are the symbol of the sky. Stars are the symbol of hope and energy and brightness. Oh, put some stars in your backpack, friend!
The Bible has wonderful images of stars. It was a star that led the wise men to the baby Jesus. And do you remember what the Bible says when it talks about the wise men seeing the star? It says, “They rejoiced exceedingly, with great joy.” It’s like a triple linguistic technique that was used there – “They rejoiced exceedingly, with great joy.” So putting a star in our backpack is a symbol of all those qualities that we need to have in our lives to have more energy.
My very favorite psalm is Psalm 8. What does it say?
“When I consider the heavens, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, who are we, that You are mindful of us? Mere mortals, that You visit us? Yet you have made us a little lower than the angels, and crowned us with glory and honor.”
Put some stars in your backpack! What are the names of your stars, the ones you need to put in there? Enthusiasm? Energy? Positive thoughts? Hope? I don’t know what they may be for you, but you do, and God does. Have a talk with the Lord, and say, “Lord, what do I need to carry into my day? What are the names of my stars?” And the Lord will help you put them in.
This morning, I just want to talk about one. I’d like to talk about one star in particular, one radiant orb of light that I would love for you and me to put into our backpacks. And what is the name of that star? Simply this: Trust.
Trust. I invite you to try a little project with me. Take a pencil in hand, and a piece of paper. Right up front, let me assure you, you don’t have to share this with anybody; you’re not going to be graded on it. This is just for you and the Lord. Write the word TRUST. And around that word, I invite you to draw a star. It doesn’t have to be a perfect star. Five points, less, more, it doesn’t matter. It is the star of trust.
In our reading of Psalm 40 today, we see these wonderful words, verse 4: “Happy are those who make the Lord their trust.” Another translation is “Happy is the one who trusts in the Lord.” Oh, my dear friends, that is what I wish for you this week. In this morning’s children’s time, we talked about Psalm 56 – “When I am afraid, I will trust in God.” That’s my prayer for you. If you find yourself in a position of fear this week, if you’ve got to do something that you don’t want to do, if you need to bite the bullet and face a challenging situation head-on, I invite you to think of one word – trust. “When I am afraid, I will trust in God.”
And you’ll feel a new energy and power to get through that thing you’re facing. And when you get through that thing, you’ll be able to feel yet more energy, because you did it. But it starts from a foundation of trust. Trust is important.
I have an electronic gadget that I have come to depend on in a very strong way. It’s a GPS. How many of you have one? Everyone knows what a GPS is. A Global Positioning System is a little box that mounts on my car and tells me how to get to where I want to go. I’ve been talking it up in the district. I’ve been telling groups of clergy about how every clergy member should have one. How are you going to get to your folks’ houses? I’ve told our district superintendent, “I think you ought to have one, Reverend Palmer.”
And she says to me, “No, I don’t need one. I have a map. I have MapQuest™.”
I said, “Reverend Palmer, as a single woman traveling late at night to unknown destinations, you should have one.” She argued with me a little about that.
Well, she called me right after Christmas and said, “I want to tell you something.”
I shuddered and said, “What?”
She said, “I bought a GPS! It’s great. It has an mp3 player and it can play books on it….” She’s more enthusiastic than I am about it.
A GPS is something you have to trust in a bit, isn’t it? I was taking my godson, Dylan, to an organ recital in south Jersey, and we were trying to find this big church. I didn’t know where it was, so I punched in the address. The GPS directed us through a neighborhood like Pike Run. We were going through this residential development, and I said, “Oh, Dylan, the GPS is wrong. It’s made a mistake. They don’t build big churches in developments like this.” I said, “I’m going to get out the map and we’ll go another way.”
Dylan said, “No, don’t. We have to trust the GPS.”
I said, “But I know they just don’t put up big churches in developments like this.”
He said, “No, stay with it. You’ve got to trust it.”
I said, “All right, all right. I think I know better, but all right.”
[Imitating a GPS voice] “In point two miles, turn left.”
We did, and there was a big church looming up in front of us. The GPS had taken us the back way. Of course, Dylan looked over at me with a great big smile. “See? You’ve got to trust it.”
It’s so important in life that we have that feeling of trust. When you get scared, when you feel fearful, just say, “Trust! I’m going to trust in God, my GPS.” Trust in God; trust in possibilities; trust your soul; trust the One who brought you safe thus far. Think of all the blessings you have. Think of that impossible situation that you never thought would work out or that was so threatening. Didn’t He bring you through it? Sure He did! Trust God with your future; look at all He’s done for you in the past. Trust God with your possibilities. The future seems an unknown, but God has set up possibilities for you and for me, wonderful ones, great ones. Trust your possibilities. God has put them out there. And trust your God-given soul. God has given you insight, intuition, wisdom, and experience. Trust it! Trust the feeling in your gut. Trust the angel voices. Trust the positive leadings. God wants to bring you into a great future. Trust Him.
Oh, dear friends, as you go into the week, I pray that you would open that invisible backpack and take that beautiful star, how ever you picture it, within which you can read the word “trust”, “trust in God”, and put it in there. Let it lead you up. Let it guide you forward to a week and a month and a year and a future that is bright with God’s possibilities, because He loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski