Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

A good start


"In the beginning was the Word…"

(John 1:1)

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

A traveler spends many hours riding throughout the Irish countryside, trying to find the route to Dublin. Desperate, he at last spots a farmer, pulls up beside his fence, and asks, "Sir, which road do I take to Dublin?"

The farmer looks one way and then another. After considerable thought, he says, "Mister, if I were going to Dublin, I wouldn’t start from here!"

I’m sure the farmer realized the obvious: the traveler could have traveled to Dublin from anywhere. Yet embedded in his answer is a deeper wisdom, and it has everything to do with the traveler’s starting point.

Sometimes, to get where you need to go, you’ve got to begin at the right place.

In this witty story is a valuable truth that has much to do with each person’s day-to-day journey. If you want to find the path to significant living and meaningful life, you must start at the right place.

For Christians, the starting point has always been God!

When you don’t begin with God, doubt and cynicism can take the place of faith and trust. You struggle to decide what you sense is missing in your life. You lose confidence in yourself.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see what happens when people are disconnected from that sacred starting point.

In Chapter 14 of Exodus, the children of Israel are backed up against the sea’s edge, and Pharaoh is pursuing them. They already have witnessed God’s powerful hand deliver them from slavery in Egypt. But their response to this new threat is fear, whining, and despair.

They cry out to Moses: You brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness like this? Didn’t we tell you it would be better for us to serve the Egyptians rather than come out here and perish? They protest that if Moses intends to lead them to the Promised Land, this is not the best place to start, surely not trapped between the forces of water and man.

Moses reassures them that the same God who freed them will not fail to rescue them at this place. He stretches his hand out over the sea, and God divides the water. The waves are driven apart by a strong wind throughout the night, revealing a pathway. With water to their left and right, the children of Israel safely move on dry land through the midst of the sea.

How many times have you stood on the shore of your own Red Sea, backed up against what seems impossible to overcome, complaining and in despair over where God has placed you? Sometimes we forget that God did not stop at the Exodus story when it comes to parting seas of difficulty.

Indeed! God continues to make a way where there is no way, to snatch victories from the looming jaws of defeat, and to cause our feet to stand upon dry ground.

But for that to happen, you must always make God your point of reference, as Moses instructed the Israelites. It is not coincidence that, in so many places, Christians begin with God.

In the Apostle’s Creed, we start with: "I believe in God…" The Gospel of John begins by stating, "In the beginning was the Word (God)." And when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus opened by declaring, "Our Father."

God should always be the starting point in each day’s journey for you. God will give you direction and confidence to make your way.

Learn a lesson from that traveler who could not find the road to Dublin. As you search for what makes life truly happy, meaningful, and significant, begin at the right point. God is waiting for you there.


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