Summary: We must take a step of faith when conditions are unfavorable.
Iliff & Saltillo UM churches
Memorial Day Weekend
May 26, 2002
“Waiting On the Wind”
INTRODUCTION: It was 1866 and the United States was recovering from the long and bloody Civil War between the North and the South. Surviving soldiers came home with many stories to tell.
Henry Welles, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, NY, heard their stories and had an idea. He suggested that all shops in town close for one day to honor the soldiers who were killed in the Civil War and were buried in Waterloo Cemetery. At about the same time, Retired Major General Jonathan Logan planned another ceremony, this time for soldiers who had survived the war. He led the veterans through the town to the cemetery to decorate the graves. It was not a happy celebration but a memorial. The townspeople called it Decoration Day.
In 1882 the name was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died in previous wars were honored as well. In 1971 President Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is not limited to honor only those Americans from the Armed Forces but also a day for personal remembrance. Families and individuals honor the memories of their loved ones who have died. Church services, visits to the cemetery, and flowers on graves, mark the day with dignity.
However, this day means more than cookouts, boating, trips to the beach and the beginning of summer activities. It has a deeper meaning. Tomorrow marks the National Observance of Memorial Day. All across America there will be the sound of marching feet, band music, and drums. In cities and small towns people will gather at parks and cemeteries where speeches are given, prayers are prayed, taps are played, and a salute given and guns fired. It is our way of saying “Thank You” to those who died that we might continue to enjoy our freedom.
We pause to look back at the past and remember the world conditions and circumstances surrounding those who lived before us. There were hardships and challenges for them similar in many ways but also very different from what we face today in the 21st century.
We must be people of courage to go on with our lives in spite of a difficult present and an uncertain future. The news media paints a different kind of future than at any time in history. The threat of terrorism has come closer to home. The alerts are color coded depending upon their severity. The “if” of terror has been changed to “when.”
Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastics 11 gives us some advice on how we can live effectively in such a time as this. In verse 4 he says, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; Whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Eccl. 11:4 NIV).
Many people, knowing the uncertain conditions we now live in are more inclined to put their life on hold until things improve. Many won’t make major decisions until they are sure of what is going to happen. Won’t buy a house right now, won’t go to college, won’t go on vacation because “I don’t know if it would be safe.” There are too many “what ifs...” Are you like this?
People who lived in other unfavorable times faced similar fears. Yet they continued to live their lives without shrinking back. We can too.
(1). Nothing Ventured: You have heard the old saying “Nothing ventured is nothing gained.” Solomon is saying the same thing. If we will not venture out to do anything until we have absolutely perfect conditions we are like the person who is observing the wind. We will never sow or reap. People will say, “the time is not right. I’ll put it off until a “Better” time or a more “opportune time." We do this in our careers and in our education, with our families as well as in our spiritual life. Paul explained salvation to King Agrippa in Acts 26:28 and he said, “Paul, you almost persuaded me to be a Christian. I will consider this and do it later.” King Agrippa was “waiting on the wind”--for more favorable conditions to occur before he received Christ. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a popular thing to do to be a Christian. Therefore he didn’t do anything. He didn’t sow and he didn’t reap. In what ways are you “waiting on the wind”? What do you need to do about it? Is your life “On Hold”?
The future is always unpredictable. Knowing this the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon said, “Sow when the time comes, whatever wind blows. Reap when the time comes whatever clouds are in the sky.”
He is saying, when you have calculated the risks, go ahead and take action. he had noticed that people often wait for a more convenient season which never comes. He is telling us that sometimes we make too big a deal about natural difficulties which become a hindrance to us.