Mid-week Pastor’s Update 2-22-2023

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

February 22nd, 2023

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing” Matthew 23:37

I don’t know if you’re very able to make out the image above, but it’s a view of the Santa Ana River culvert that parallels the 91 Freeway Westbound in eastern Anaheim. It’s a view I regularly get while heading back toward the Anaheim church while doing food bank pickups from a couple of grocery stores in Anaheim Hills.

I’m posting it today to comment on, because I can’t help but see the irony that the riverbed is brown and scruffy, even as water is perpetually flowing by it, very closely!

In recent weeks I’ve been reflecting (and writing) on the beauty of the green- and flower-covered hills, and the snow-capped mountains (about to be totally covered in the approaching storm later this week!)

But, through it all, though water’s presence has been constant, this riverbed remains desolate and uninviting.

Why? I’m sure it has something to do with the soil content: the fact that the water isn’t soaking into the ground despite being very close. Obviously the plants were green and had a reachable water source at some point, but that has since passed.

Seeing and reflecting on this, I can’t help but wonder if this is how much of the world looks Spiritually to God, angels, and other heavenly intelligences. God, of course, faithfully sends his life-giving Spirit, equips us with tools like Scripture and prayer to fortify us, yet so many of us let those blessings slide right by without taking advantage of them. The end-result is that we look parched and thirsty, despite the fact that the blessings have been so near, within arms-reach.

Scripture, of course, uses the metaphor of nature’s desolation to reflect on Spiritual emptiness: from the fruitless fig tree to the illustration of the valley of dry bones, famine and desolation are frequent illustrators of religious emptiness (Jesus even used tombs as an example!)

But, praise the Lord, in contrast to those depressing representations, we also have lovely ones, like a lush tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1), branches rooted in the vine producing lush grapes (John 15) streams flowing in the desert (Isaiah 43:19), and even Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones coming back to life! (ch. 37).

Let’s be resolute in our hearts to have the latter batch of illustrations refer to us, rather than the former! Just as the Santa Ana riverbed is such a waste in proximity with opportunity, let’s not lose our chance to bud and blossom for God, reflecting & sharing His beauty with others!

I pray a blessed week for you and your loved ones. May God’s providential care be evident in your life.


Pr. Mark Tatum

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