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February 2, 2022

This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Rev. Michael Cobb of Dalraida United Methodist Church

Francis Gary Powers might as well be the most famous U-2 pilot in history. Set for a secret mission on May 1, 1960, Powers was taking aerial photos of the Soviet Union from 70,000 feet when he was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). He ejected but was captured and convicted of espionage. Sentenced to three years in prison and seven in hard labor, his sentence was reduced when the United States agreed to a prisoner exchange.

Afterward, Powers flew dangerous experimental aircraft and became a test pilot for Lockheed. But after many years, flying a helicopter for a local news station in LA, Powers would end up losing his life in a crash. Why? His helicopter ran out of gas!

If everything that moves in this world is fueled by something, what is fueling you? You might be the most gifted and experienced person in the world, but if you run out of fuel you will crash and burn. That’s why the most important thing a person can do is to get and stay encouraged. It is everyone’s #1 need whether they know it or not.

In fact, a wise person once said that we can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, about seven to 7-8 minutes without air, but not a single second without hope. Encouragement fuels that hope and vision for a brighter future.

Without hope, despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces prayer. Insecurity replaces confidence, and tomorrow’s dreams are hampered by nightmares.

(R. Johnston, HQ:360; 2016)

It is simply impossible to be spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or even relationally healthy without being grounded in hope. How is yours?

I have found that I am most encouraged and filled with hope when surrounded by people willing to build into my life. Do you remember the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games? A man named Eric Moussambani turned in an unforgettable performance at the aquatic center.

The 22-year-old from Equatorial Guinea learned to swim just months before the games started. He was allowed to compete under a special provision that encourages developing countries to participate. Although he had only practiced in a 20-meter pool, Eric was able to enter the 100-meter freestyle. The marksman started the race.

All other swimmers had false starts, leaving Eric to swim alone. But everyone grew concerned when he virtually stopped before the finish line. The crowds thought he might be drowning or unable to go on. Just then, the capacity crowd jumped to their feet and began cheering him on.

Eric finally reached the wall, having won his heat, exited the pool, caught his breath, and told the reporter, “It was their cheering that kept me going” (P. Foster, “Olympian from the Equator wins at a crawl”; 2000).

Who do you have supporting you, cheering you on? Solomon writes,

“If one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him”

Ecclesiastes 4:10

We don’t live and move throughout life alone as if in a vacuum.

We are surrounded by people, and some have more on their backs than those walking beside them. Sometimes encouragement requires us to give it first. Other times it requires us to strengthen the relationships we have or even search for the ones we need.

Bottom line, the good ones will always provide fuel for the tank and increase your hope for tomorrow. Running on empty is never good for anyone.

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