FENTON, MI – Sabrina and I have been blessed to serve in ministry in various capacities and locations. On two separate occasions we had the privilege of serving in South Texas. We first moved to the lower regions of our nation when I was called as the Youth and Music pastor at First Baptist Church of Odem, Texas. It was a small farming community just about twenty miles from Corpus Christi. We lived there for several years before we moved to Oklahoma to pastor Emmanuel Baptist Church of McAllister. Following the Oklahoma pastorate, we were called to pastor Calvary Baptist Church of Kingsville, Texas.
We loved the climate and culture of South Texas. It was very similar to that of our place of service in Florida. One of Sabrina’s favorite topographical characteristics of this area was the beaches and especially South Padre Island. She is fully convinced that almost any difficulty can be remedied by a few days of sun, sand and surf.
Now most of you know of South Padre Island because of its notoriety concerning the wild and wooly spring breaks that saturate the island with hundreds of thousands of college students, who unwind like the rubber winding on the inside of a tightly wrapped golf ball. They come from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico once a year to bake in the sun, play in the sand and get saturated with suds. (And I’m not talking about soap!)
Before it became a popular tourist destination, South Padre Island was home to a few hundred folks who lived there and scratched out a living the best they could. Some even commuted back to the mainland for employment. It was a different time and place for sure.
Gaining access to this oasis was simple. The only way across the Laguna Madre to the island was by way of the Queen Isabella Causeway. At one time it was Texas’ longest bridge and has been there for many years. Through the years, people just took for granted that the bridge would be there every day and every night. It was, after all, a means of traversing the waters between the two lands, the only means.
One evening in 2001, four loaded barges crashed into the bridge taking out a 240-foot section. The Brown Water V tug and its barges crashed into one of the columns toppling two 80-foot sections of the bridge. A third section collapsed later as a result of the impact. Eight people lost their lives in the incident, most plunging 85 feet into the waters below that were at least 50 feet deep. Thankfully, thirteen others were rescued from the waters that fateful day.
Sabrina and I have crossed the Queen Isabella Causeway on many occasions and thought nothing of it. We, as did countless others, just assume it would always be there, and that it would be available for us to traverse the laguna, any time we needed it. One day it was there and the next it was gone. That which we thought was so reliable and sure was rendered useless in a matter of minutes.
Many of us depend on a great many things in our lives and to be quite honest, take them for granted. We just assume they will always be there. We put faith in our automobiles to take us from point “a” to point “b”. We believe our loved ones will be ever present, and that our employment is steady and true. The fact is, I could fill pages with items we assume will be consistently present, but there is only one thing that I know of that will always be there. There is only one thing that will never fade or falter. Only One that never sleeps or slumbers. Only One the keeps constant watch over those in His charge. That one is God the Father. He is far more than a bridge over troubled waters, and is everlastingly constant in His presence and power. Some things falter and fail. He does not. Take time today to thank Him for just being there. Eternally constant. Psalm 121:4
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.