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Wednesday Word

June 18, 2020 | Dr. Jay T. Smith

Today marks the 83rd birthday of my mother, Mary Carolyn Wilkins. There are no parties, cards or presents today, because she passed away about sixteen months ago. Her passing was not easy for anyone, least of all for her. Advanced, undiagnosed COPD, and diabetes brought her down quickly. When she passed, none of her family was with her. I often think about my mother. She was a lovely 4’9” on a good day. She had been an excellent student, a thespian, a pianist, a vocalist, and keen business woman. She spent her entire career in the oil and gas business. On most days, her joy overflowed to those around her. She loved her husband John with every fiber of her being. She loved me, my sister and all of her grandchildren with all of her heart. Why am I recounting this personal story for all of you? First, you and I live in a world that has gone off of the rails. COVID-19, an economic recession, political mayhem at home and abroad, make this time exceptional in modern history. As much as we would like to think that this is simply an historic repeat, i.e., “We’ve been through it before,” we really haven’t. It is new to all of us who are living through it. The lessons of history fail us here. It is a time filled with fear and trepidation; anxiety and hopelessness. Second, we are in a worldview crisis. Our good scientists and medical professionals do not have reliable answers or cures for our predicament. There are no facts, only “hunches” and “best guesses.” Because our own worldview is in flux, we angrily, and anxiously look for someone to blame: another country; our medical establishment; our government; a political party or a particular politician. Yet, I promise you, even if you find someone to blame, it will not make the situation any better.

There is only one true answer: we must endure. We must live every day intentionally, with faith, love, service, and hope. We have faith in a God who has given us purpose and love, even if we don’t know the number of our days. We must be present to our spouses, children, friends, and neighbors. We must help others to the extent we are able, simply because in “service” we find our center again. The love we share, and the care we bear, provides spiritual fulfillment and a form of rest for our hearts. We must live every day as if it might be our last. We need to allow the presence of the Spirit in our lives become a fountain of joy for those around us.

My mother played the character “Puck,” in a college production of Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” As I look back on the 55 years I was able to spend knowing her, I realize that there were very few days that she didn’t make my world better. I think she embodied the best of what it meant to be “puckish” – she always had something up her sleeve to make everyone’s day better. We can endure this difficult trial, but it means that we must place our faith in the God who loves us, and allow that love to make our lives, and the lives around us better. Thank you, mom.

Dr. Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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