The Tough Stuff         Dave Smith

Rain pounds the hood, windshield, and bed cover of my truck.  I think “pounds” might not be an accurate verb – it does not capture the tintankle, wipers’ slap, spank of this lightning-less downpour abetted by my forward speed against its countermotion efforts.  That “is it ever going to rain” complaining about heat gets set aside for the time being.  I’d open the window and puppy-like hang my head outside, but that just might be my demise – be pretty tuff to see anything, as if I can see much now anyway.  Things get like that sometimes, the old “forest for the trees” line or “its darkest just before it gets black.”  Might as well take it slow and get in a think to the rhythm of the rain.

Mostly of late I’ve been contemplating our church, our faith home.  Recent years have brought sprinkles, full-on storms, thunder, and lightning, but it’s still here, offering faith support and a gathering home for our Christian family.  In the book of Mark, Jesus says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.  I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough” (2:17).  Pastor Patterson two weeks ago underlined a point our church community already knows – we are not the healthiest and VELC has some things to work out over the next two years.  We need the Great Physician.  In the book, God is in the Tough Stuff by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, the authors state, “The most important healing touch anyone can receive is spiritual.”  They go on to state, “God still heals physically, but that’s not His primary concern…we will be completely healed in heaven, God’s bigger concern is that we get there.” (181-182). I am very glad to keep the Healer in the forefront and leave the healing in His gracious hands.

The deluge abates some 3-4 miles from my driveway.  I shift the wipers to intermittent and conclude the ride, enjoy the freshness and eased humidity. My thought incomplete, I seek out the text referenced – I know a prayer from Mother Teresa hides inside.  I find it, personalize and adapt it for us, and so end a think:

Dear Jesus,

Help VELC to spread Your fragrance everywhere it goes.

Flood its soul with Your spirit and life.


Penetrate and possess its whole being so utterly

that its life may only be a radiance of Yours.


Shine through VELC and be so in our church,

that every soul in contact with us

may feel Your presence in our collective soul.


Let them look up and see

no longer a church, but Jesus!


Stay with us

and we shall begin to shine as You shine;

to shine a light to others;

the light, O Jesus, will be all from You.


None of it will be us;

it will be You shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise You in the way You love best,

by shining on those around.


Let us preach You without preaching,

not words but example,

by the catching force,

the sympathetic influence,

of what we do,

the evident fullness of the love

our heart bears to You.



(adapted from Mother Teresa, “Prayers,” Mother Teresa: The Path of Love. 2004)