Living Life to its Fullest is Easy to do in this Wonderful Place
By Pastor GARY DUCKWORTH
New Life Fellowship
I was four years old when my family traveled to South Bend, Washington from California. It was 1964, and Ecklund Park became my home. It was where I rode my bicycle with training wheels next to my house on moving day. It was where I attended Southlin Elementary School and curiously observed frog eggs turn into tadpoles, only to be released before maturing into frogs.
South Bend is where I proudly scraped together 25 cents so I could ride my bicycle, equipped with butterfly handlebars and a banana seat, to Forry’s Bluetop store to carefully select my favorite penny candies. South Bend was a place for Cub Scouts, Brownies, summer baseball, and Saturday basketball. It was my home.
Halfway through my sixth-grade year, my family moved away. I was suddenly exposed to things that had been a mystery until then: freeways, skyscrapers, 24-hour restaurants, shopping malls, and city after city with thousands and thousands of people moving quickly, living their lives in a crowd. I did the same, traveling all around the world many times. I saw it all, did a lot, and learned the most important lessons in life.
At the age of 50, something happened that I never dreamed would. I found myself back in Raymond, Washington, where I have made my permanent home. I am fortunate to have experienced what the big world has to offer, and with that experience, this is what I know: Pacific County is a unique place. It’s a place where you’re not packed into a small area with thousands of unknown faces. Instead, you sit in the dining room at Dairy Queen and recognize half of the people going through the drive thru. It’s a place where a trip to the store means stopping and chatting with everyone you see because you have a connection that traverses many generations and experiences. It is small town living that we are all familiar with. It has its strengths and weaknesses; it also has its special opportunities.
Raymond is not that different from Bethlehem, the seemingly insignificant place that God chose as Jesus’ birthplace. God’s heart is just as much about small communities as it is about large ones. With his choice, God put Bethlehem on the map, and over 2,000 years later and 7,000 miles away, we know where it is and what it means, because God chose it.
Just like Bethlehem, Raymond is on God’s mind, and so is each of us. Before God made Bethlehem famous, he knew it and chose it, just like He has chosen each one of us to be loved by him. We are all Bethlehem’s to God. When we live in Raymond in Pacific County, we might feel insignificant, unnoticed, or unimportant, but the opposite is true. We are blessed to live in a place that is as huge and meaningful as we make it. Maybe we can hide from the rest of the world in Pacific County, but we can’t hide from God. He is here. We are all blessed to live in this small community where we have a God who truly cares about every detail of our lives, no matter how small or how large.
What I have learned is that a small life is really big if you live your life to the fullest, and in this wonderful place, that is pretty easy to do.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on www.hometowndebate.com 6/20/13. If you would like to respond to this story go to hometowndebate.com