“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”
Hope you are ready for our walk today. It is a cold day, but the sun is bright and warm. There is still some snow on the ground, and they predict that we will have more snow tomorrow. The place where I wish to take you to today is seven miles away so we must drive there in my truck. When we arrive at our destination, we will only have to walk a short distance. We are going to White’s Park in Concord, New Hampshire.
I drove past White’s Park the other day with Dale and witnessed a scene I had not witnessed for many years. I want you to see what is going on at that park in recent days for I wonder if it will bring memories back to you as it did to me a few days ago.
Here we are – I’ll pull into the parking lot and what do we both see? Skaters are gliding across an ice-covered pond. This pastor has not seen skaters on an ice-covered pond for many years. It seems that where I had been living in recent times was not cold enough for a pond to freeze solid enough so that people could skate on it. Isn’t it wonderful to see so many people just having a wonderful time out doors on a winter’s day?
My first memory of being on an ice-covered pond goes back to when I was four years old. It is one of my first memories. My father took my brothers and sisters and me to a place I seem to recall was called the “pit.” My dad had a sled and I had what were called double runners. There were two blades on the skates to help you balance, not just one. I was not successful standing up very long on those runners so my dad pulled me around on the sled. It is a memory that comes back with wonderful sentiments.
In Melrose, Massachusetts where I grew up, there was a pond in the center of the town called Ell Pond. Ell Pond would freeze solid when the winter weather was cold enough. It was there I would attempt to skate again when I was perhaps nine or ten. A neighbor took me to that pond one afternoon to skate along with his two daughters. It was a mortifying experience for my ankles were so weak they would flop sideways, and I would fall on the ice over and over again. The neighbor told his two daughters to stay away from me because I was dangerous on the ice and might hurt them. This was especially wounding for I thought his daughter Nancy was ever so beautiful, and I wanted her one day to become my girlfriend. That was never to happen! Humpf!
Years later after becoming a pastor, I would take young people up to my father’s farm in Barrington, New Hampshire in the dead of winter. The place where the family once cut ice, a place called the frog pond, was a great place to skate. It was down in the lower meadow and a short distance off into the woods. The young people would skate for much of one afternoon and then went up to the farmhouse to get warm. By that time, I was wise enough to not put on skates or to attempt skating at all. No, the only way I would skate now is if I can be pulled around on a sled.
Notice over there on the ice, there is one person being pushed around in a metal chair; that would be the only way I would wish to skate. I told Dale that one day she can go skating here, and I will bring a chair and she can push me in the chair all around the pond.
Are you a good skater? Do you have that talent? Strong ankles maybe? I will never be a skater, and yet God gave me other talents. And if you are not a good skater He gave you other talents too.
There are times in this life when we feel we have failed at accomplishing something we want to accomplish. There are times when we wish we could have been a great skater, a great runner, a wonderful singer, a famous artist and we have not the talent. It is at exactly at that moment of feeling that we have failed at something that we need to stop and think carefully about the many other gifts that God has given to us. There is not one of us alive who is not unique. There is not one of us who has does not have special attributes that we might not even have recognized.
Look at those skaters out there – the man who is skating so fast, the young girl that skates so gracefully; look at the boy who is a whiz at shooting that hockey puck in front of him; look at that young boy learning to skate and trying over and over again to stand on his feet. Oh I hope if he is like me and he cannot skate, that he knows God gave him other talents that he will discover in the future.
Nope, I’ll never be a skater, I’ll never be darting around on the ice looking so proud and successful, but I do have other talents and one of them is I can be a good friend. And I thank you for being a good friend, too.
And now, “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”
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