Recently Sonja and I spent a wonderful weekend in Eureka, MT with the outstanding leaders and pastors of the Chapel of Praise—Curtis/Stephanie McDuffie. It brought back memories of my first visit to Eureka and something Pastor Curtis told me.
I was newly arrived to the North Central Region and was in awe of the beautiful new land that I had been privileged to be assigned to serve.
Eureka is especially inspiring: the majestic snow-capped Rockies surrounding you, the meadows and forests teeming with wildlife. For example, in one trip on the short drive from the McDuffie’s home to the main road you will probably see more deer than most people see in their entire life.
Sonja and I like to hike so on that first visit I asked Pastor Curtis if we needed to worry about poisonous snakes. He reassured me that poisonous snakes were not really a problem in that area. But I’ll never forgot how he said it. He said, “You don’t have to worry about getting bitten, but you do have to worry about being eaten.” (Yikes!)
He wasn’t kidding. For example, on this last trip Pastor Curtis showed me a picture of a huge mountain lion that had been captured by a neighbor’s night camera just a few yards from the McDuffies’ back poach. When they go for a walk in their neighborhood, they take bear spray to ward of Grizzlies! Living in beautiful Eureka can kill you!
And it’s not just in Montana. A couple weekends earlier I was at the opposite end of the North Central Region heading to Sioux Falls, SD. To get there required driving on snow and ice covered roads, through high winds and white outs, and extreme temperatures. Just walking across the parking lot to the convenience store was dangerous with the weather app warning us that only ten minutes of exposure would cause frostbite.
Yes, living in the great North Central Region can kill you—and I love it!
By “loving it” I do not mean that I have a death wish. Far from it. My dream for my future now includes holding my great grandchildren someday. (All my grands are still in elementary school, so I’ve got to manage to not get eaten for several more years!)
But what I mean is that living here has reminded me of how easy it is to settle for living safe and thus missing out on so much living. I’m so glad Sonja and I made the plunge to leave the comforts and security of pastoring a great church and living in our own home among people who we will always call dearest friends. It wasn’t easy but I can truly say it was worth it.
When Sonja and I said good bye to our friends and family back in 2015, I gave her a necklace with a little two-man canoe locket on it. That is how we’ve seen our lives since September 9, 1978 as we headed out for a life together as newly-weds into the unknown. We’ve weathered some rough rapids and tough turns, but oh the places we’ve gone and the living we’ve done. No regrets.
Maybe it’s time for you to jump into your canoe and head out for some uncharted waters yourself. The blood of your pioneering forefathers is still there; go for it!
The ONE THING for today: Live wisely, but all means, but do not settle for playing it safe, for playing it safe is…well, mostly just playing.