The rural plains of South Dakota invites a life that allows a person to focus on what’s most important in life — faith and family.
While traveling through the Midwest this week on behalf of Truth in Love Ministry (www.tilm.org), I received the opportunity to meet new friends and reacquaint myself with old ones in Watertown, Sioux Falls, and Clear Lake, SD. I marvel at the open spaces. I admire the strong hands and work ethic. I look up to their faith and how well they trust in the Lord and how He always provides.
While staying with Terry and Kathy on their ranch nine miles north of Clear Lake, I was struck with their hard work ethic, yet not caught up in the busyness of the world. They were not busy for the sake of being busy, but each task had an intention that kept focus on the most important things in life — honoring God and providing for their family.
Perhaps open spaces have that effect on people who live in the midst of clutter in the big city. Out in the city, we seem to get easily distracted.
A Different Era
While visiting St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Watertown, I spend a part of the afternoon peaking back at history. The old St. Martin’s church was in the process of being torn down. This is the building where my wife’s grandfather served as pastor from 1935 to 1961. The Rev. Walter Meier faithfully shepherded a large flock of believers through times of great difficulty. The old church is being torn down but the old parsonage next door remains the same. It was here that my father-in-law grew up and later became a pastor himself.
After my presentation, there was a time of joyful reminiscing of members who vividly remember Rev. Meier and life in old Watertown where outdoor plumbing was the norm and the pheasants were plentiful. These men in their eighties were seasoned in life and sharp in their recollection of a time where many of us simply cannot fathom. With a twinkle in their eyes, they shared their stories from my wife’s heritage.
Their stories brought to life the old black and white portraits of graduating catechism classes that still hung in the vast meeting room.
Perhaps we can learn a lesson from both buildings and people who have been weathered by life’s storms. They remain anchored to God’s promises no matter what life throws at them. They take God at His Word and have learned to not always trust man’s word — especially if they are new in town. They have learned the art of patience and the craft of living. Etched on their faces is a story waiting to tell.
Within the walls of an empty, abandoned church waiting to be torn down, I leaned in closely to try and hear the echoes — the promises given to bring hope, trust, and faith in God’s faithfulness.
We can pray,
“O Lord, in the stillness of time, we can Hear your voice. You ask us several times in Scripture to be still and know that You are God. May our hearts listen to the echoes from the past. While we prepare for worship this weekend, may we cement our will into Your Word so that its imprint may be lasting. Remove the clutter that takes our eyes off of what’s most important in life. Thank you, Lord, for open spaces that allows us to be still and hear Your voice. Amen.”