Almost there

I learned a lesson this week. Since I was old enough to understand the meaning of December 7, 1941, I have wanted to go to Pearl Harbor and visit the USS Arizona memorial site. It’s been on my bucket list before I even knew I had a bucket list.

My wish came true as Kim and I took our 35th anniversary trip to Hawaii. We did the things you’re supposed to do there. Standing on the deck of the USS Missouri and knowing the historic significance of what took place there as the war came to a close was inspiring. The displays, the films, the tours all added to our experience. But when it came time to board the launch to cross the harbor for the memorial, there was a rope and a sign barring our way. The commander of the base had determined that wind conditions were such that further tours were not possible. I could see the familiar white shape of the memorial across the water but I could not get any closer. I was almost there …

“Disappointment” doesn’t quite catch the sentiment I felt when I realized that “almost” wasn’t being there. Life is that way so often. Things don’t always work out like we would want. Stuff happens that we can never anticipate. Sometimes we don’t measure up. Sometimes people let us down. Sometimes circumstances and situations change unexpectedly.

I have realized that the ministry of Jesus was so often affected by interruptions: teaching moments that presented themselves; healing opportunities when hurting, needy people approached; and confrontations when His enemies and critics tried to trap Him. You can find these interruptions through the four Gospels. Jesus turned the unexpected and inconvenient into life-changing events.

I hope I can go back one day, but if I don’t I will have to be satisfied with “almost” there. I learned so much about that awful day that launched a nation into war. I was humbled and saddened by the sacrifice and suffering of so many. I was once again reminded that the price of even one life is higher than any of us can fully appreciate.

You can count on interruptions and disappointments in life. You and I can turn those moments into something bright and hopeful if we choose … even when it is really hard. Compared to what so many go through, my disappointment seems almost trivial. Let me just remind us all that we can trust the One who walked among us. He knew what it was like. He offers us grace and wisdom and strength to handle whatever comes.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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