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KEEPING THE FAITH | Worried about the rising costs of living? Trust God!

I can attest whether young or old, God has never forsaken me. I simply trust that as God, He will continue to supply my every need as I submit to His will for my life.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

I have heard folks commenting about the rising costs of goods and services. 

In truth, I have not really allowed myself to be distracted. Like David, I can attest whether young or old, God has never forsaken me. I simply trust that as God, He will continue to supply my every need as I submit to His will for my life.

Recently, this truth was reaffirmed as I found a short story tucked away in the pages of my grandmother’s Bible. It was a short story that was recited many times during afternoon programs & services for annual days and events at churches. Several days later, this same message was shared in a text from a dear friend. Recognizing this as a God moment, it was then I sensed the story needed to be revisited:

As I was walking down life's highway many years ago, I came upon a sign that read "Heaven’s Grocery Store."
When I got a little closer the doors swung open wide and when I came to myself I was standing inside.
I saw a host of angels. They were standing everywhere. One handed me a basket and said “My Child, shop with care.” 
Everything a person needed was in that grocery store and what you could not carry you could come back for more.
First I got some Patience. Love was in that same row. Further down was Understanding, you need that everywhere you go. 
I got a box of Wisdom and a bag of Faith or two. Charity of course, I would need some of that too.
I couldn't miss the Holy Spirit, it was all over the place. Then some Strength and Courage to help me run this race. 
My basket was getting full but I remembered I needed Grace and then I chose Salvation for salvation was for free. I tried to get enough of that to do for you and me.
Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill for I thought I had everything to do the Master’s Will. 
As I went up the aisle I saw Prayer and put that in for I knew when I stepped outside I would run into sin.
Peace and joy were plentiful, the last things on the shelf. Songs of Praise were hanging near so I just helped myself. 
Then I said to the angel, “Now how much do I owe?” The angel smiled and said, “Just take them everywhere you go.”
Again I asked, “Really now, how much do I owe?' The angel responded, “God paid your bill a long long time ago!

In truth, God continues to supply my every need. Yet, I fully understand, to whom much is given much is required. I have no right to live only for myself or my family. Actually, the implications are clear that even more is required from me as an individual. There is an inherent expectation to be a blessing to others.

I shared a few weeks ago that gardening and horticulture are not my strongest suits; however, this year I have experienced some short-term success. That’s code for: The plants are still alive! Although these plants are relatively low maintenance, they still require some attention. Nevertheless, it is extremely easy for me to forget that the hearty peace lily would appreciate watering until I see its leaves drooping as if it was searching for water and peace beyond the planter.

Dorothy, my wife, loves watching HGTV and home improvement programming for ideas to enhance our residence which we affectionately refer to Macklin Manor. She inspired me to create a memory garden even though that’s more vegetation requiring tending. The area was envisioned to encourage us to reflect upon the counsel once shared by those who have made an inedible impact in our lives. Hence it is not a shrine to the ancestors but a sacred space to recall the love and reflect wisdom evoked by voices that remain audible in our hearts and minds.   

One morning as I went to inspect the area, I had a reflective moment where my mind was drawn back to the time when I interviewed my grandmother for a gerontology class. When asked to define success in her own words, she said, "Success is when you look back at your life and the most treasured memories are the ones that make you smile because you helped someone else succeed in reaching their goals."

I am the product of a community that encouraged and challenged me to be a better person. The combined love, direction and support from my family, the church, educators and civic leaders were powerful agents in my life. That memory caused me to take inventory of my own efforts. Who am I encouraging to maximize their potential or realize the pursuit of their dream was worth it? Have I invested my time, talent and treasure in lives that will yield great dividends in the generations to come. We all can make a difference. Never discount the power of believing in the untapped potential of others.

The gospel classic, “If I Can Help Somebody” performed by The late Edwin Hawkins conveys a simple message, 

If I can help somebody, as I travel along
If I can help somebody, with a word or song
If I can help somebody, from doing wrong
Then my living shall not be in vain.

Congratulations! The prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was recently bestowed upon attorney James E. "Ted" Roberts by the Federal Aviation Administration. Named after Ohio natives Wilbur & Orville Wright, the award honors pilots who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise at least for 50 years. If you know attorney Roberts, then you can attest that these are a few of his personal attributes. 

On this special occasion, Roberts was presented with a commemorative certificate and lapel pin. Cynthia, his lovely wife, was presented a stickpin similar to Ted’s lapel pin in recognition of her support to his stellar aviation career. Ted remains a strong pillar in our community who demonstrates his faith in the concern and care for others. Active in the community and church, he provides a sense of peace with his integrity, intellect and overall calming demeanor. 

Several years ago the late Myke Clarett founded the Holy Trinity Golfing Tigers Youth Team which taught young boys and girls the art of the game while introducing social and life skills. One of the most memorable experiences the now-adult participants still fondly recall is the occasion of soaring over the Mahoning Valley in a Cessna 182 plane piloted by Ted. For many of them that was their first time flying in an actual aircraft. Ted has also shared the wonder of flight with children from the Salvation Army’s eastside mission.

As they were presenting the history of the award and the Wright Brothers journey toward flight, I took note that the father of the aviation pioneers was a bishop. I suspect faith was formative and greatly fueled their passion to see faith become sight! Interestingly, almost a dozen companies refused to believe in the concept of humans flying. 

The brothers were frequently told, “It can’t be done!” 

Of course, history reflects that it could be a reality. Wilber and Orville refused to allow rejection and failure deter them from the possibility of soaring beyond their wildest dreams and imaginations. 

Despite setbacks such as unforeseen technical problems and frequent bad weather conditions that created extended delays, the brothers were confident they would ultimately obtain their goal. 

I tend to believe Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” was in full operation. They believed there was a power that would propel and sustain them in the air.  

Whenever you face opposition to a God-given dream, take confidence in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” 

After the awards ceremony, my family patronized a new business called Candyland on Evergreen Avenue, near Market Street, operated by 14-year-old twins Kennedi and Keith Smith. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. and you are encouraged to bless their vision. They offer nostalgic candy and treats, homemade lemon shakes and beverages in a park-like setting. The professionalism and customer service was absolutely amazing. 

As we were leaving, Kennedi offered me the opportunity to select a devotional card as a parting gift. My card read, “For with God nothing shall be impossible!” Immediately, I thought of the Wright Brothers’ sheer determination which has literally impacted every facet of modern-day commerce and transportation throughout the world.    

Perhaps you seek to produce or perform something others say, “It can’t be done!” Do not become weary. Learn and embrace failed-but-honest attempts and efforts. Trust God and rebuke discouragement.   

PRAYER FOR JOY & CONTENTMENT: Dear God, I surrender and let go of my fears and my anxieties, I release my disappointments and my setbacks while asking the Spirit of the Living God to fall fresh upon me. Please remind me of Your abiding presence in my life and fill me with Your strength and power. Safeguard the matters of my heart so that it can withstand the ups and the downs of my journey. I know that with You nothing shall be impossible. Keep my head held up high toward the sky and restore my joy that I may continue to keep the faith. It is so, in Your powerful and wonderful Name.

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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