“A Young Man’s Drug Problem”

Sermon Delivered By Rev. Dick Stetler – February 25, 2018

Centenary United Methodist Church

Proverbs 3:1-10; Romans 3:1-3

Mediation for Cub Scout Sunday

    When I was a young boy about the age of some of you, my Grandpa Stetler often took me freshwater fishing for trout and bass.  This was an activity that the two of us enjoyed doing together.  On one of our fishing trips, he stopped the car at an odd place and the two of us walked into a wooded area without our fishing rods.

    Eventually we came to a marsh where we had to be careful where we stepped.  The ground was soft and very mushy.  We approached an area where a small spring was literally bubbling out of the ground sending a small stream away from its source.  He told me to go another fifteen feet down stream and jump over the spring.  I jumped over it with ease. 

    After I made my jump, the strange episode was over.  We walked back to the car and continued on our journey to one of his favorite fishing spots.  He saw a look on my face that communicated, "What was the point of my jumping over a small stream?"  He said:

I know you are wondering why I asked you to jump over the water flow of that spring. One day I want you to be able to tell people that you literally jumped over the Susquehanna River. 


My father brought me here when I was about your age.  That spring that you jumped over is the source of the mighty river that flows past Harrisburg.  It travels further east until the river empties into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland just beyond the Conowingo Dam.  

    My grandfather went on to tell me that the Susquehanna River is like living a full, adventurous life.  Each of our lives begin like the beginning of a river.  People all start their living as a little squirt that learns to crawl before he or she can climb, walk and eventually run.

    For a river to grow, other small sources of water must empty into it and soon that tiny stream becomes a brook.  As more brooks and springs flow into it, the brook becomes a more swiftly flowing creek.  Soon the creek picks up a greater volume and becomes a small river.  Finally, a river the size of the Susquehanna had its source as a spring.  When the river reaches its maturity, the Susquehanna is just about a mile wide at its widest point.  So, one of my accomplishments in life was to jump over the Susquehanna River.

    My grandpa went on to tell me how it takes the help of a lot of others for each of us to open up our width and depth in order to create a life. He named many influential springs and streams that contributed to the rushing currents of his own life-energies.  Eventually, until we reach a time when our living waters settle securely within the boundaries established by the river's banks, we become a mature adult.

    He said, the first influences to the flow of your growing stream are the boundaries set by your parents.  He went on to mention quite a list of additional tributaries that cause us to have an adventurous life.  He named our numerous teachers, our friends, and our life-experiences. 

    After he paused, he went on to tell me about the influences on our lives that we create all by ourselves.  He provided numerous examples of such highly personal sources of growth.  It is from these sources that our size, strength and abilities have their origin.  Outside influences can only do so much toward our growth.  It is what we generate that creates the excitement and fulfillment in who we become.

    He mentioned our responses to hurt feelings, our mistakes in judgment, our needs, our choices, our desires, the aspects and qualities of living that attract us, our imaginations, our dreams, our vision of what we want to do to earn a living, and finally, finding within ourselves the ability to create a life filled with happiness, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment.  From all of these, we develop the spirit we want to display to everyone with whom we cross paths.

    His final comment on this subject was to tell me that the quality of each of our lives is exactly what we decide it is. No one else can do that for us. There is no one else we can blame.  We can stand on their shoulders to reach higher rungs on the ladder, but each stretch to reach those rungs depends on our personal thoughts and feelings. 

    The attitudes that result from developing an inner harmony from all of the influences from outside and inside of ourselves is what creates a successful life that often can make a sizeable contribution to our families, our business, and possibly to influence the world.  My granddad was one of my tributaries to my river.

    You may have noticed the title of my Pastor's Moment listed in our bulletin this morning as, A Young Man's Drug Problem. What a subject to discuss with a group of Cub Scouts.  However, as you will soon hear, it is a perfect title for all the little influences that may govern the flow of your lives as a result of the boundaries established by your parents.              

    One day a young adult was looking into the rear-view mirror of his life and reviewed in writing what had provided him a foundation for his growing-up years.  These are some of his thoughts:

I developed a drug problem that started soon after I was potty-trained.  My parents drug me to a church nursery on Sunday mornings.  Later, they drug me to Sunday School. As I got older, they drug me away from our television set and video games. They drug me into my bedroom where my homework was waiting for my immediate attention. They drug me away from using my cell phone and made me pay attention to what they were saying to me in person. They drug me to the youth fellowship meetings at our church on Sunday evenings.


My dad drug me into Scouting so I would learn some of the life-skills from others with many lessons from their life-experiences.


I was drug into the kitchen where my mother made me learn how to cook, how to thicken gravy by using corn starch or flour, how to roll out dough to make a pie, and how to knead dough to make bread. She drug me to the dirty dinner dishes that were waiting for my hands to enter the sudsy water to wash them.  She drug me to see all the places where mom's tools were kept.  I was told that everything must be returned to the same place where I found it.   


She also drug me to a needle and thread where I was made to sew a button on my shirt.  I was made to mend a hole in my pants pocket.


She said, 'One day you may meet a girl that you want to have as your wife.  Suppose that she never had a drug problem like you and she never developed the skills that are known by every successful domestic engineer. Always be prepared was a model that I learned as a Scout.


I was drug outside and made to pull weeds in mom's garden. I was drug to the homes of seniors who were recovering from surgery to mow their grass without being paid. I was drug on family vacations without my i-pad or cell phone.  I thought I would lose my mind, but I didn't.  The inability to be in constant communication with my friends did not bring an end to all my relationships.


These and many other drugs are still flowing through my body and they became the boundaries like those of the banks that kept a river flowing like it should. My life's energetic currents continue to this day to flow within many of those boundaries established by my parents.  They have molded my attitudes and behavior that have provided most of the tools that I have used during most days of my life.  


I thank God everyday for having parents who drugged me, my brother, and my twin sisters.  We all became addicted to pursuing fulfilled lives that had meaning and purpose.  Plus, all of us became drug dealers to our own children.



Creator of peace, wisdom, and compassion, we thank you for creating us to soar beyond our known capabilities. Help us to understand that there are no failures.  There are only results that help us to walk through the doors of change. We know the tension between having confidence to make a difference and the hesitancy to act. Help us to use what we have learned to make our values visible. We thank you for opportunities to seize every moment of life to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  We know that one act of kindness turns into thousands over a lifetime.  Amen.  



Loving and always faithful God, how wonderful it is to gather in our house of worship, and, for a little while, cleanse our minds and hearts of the distractions that so easily block our sense of your presence. 

We are particularly happy this morning that many of the boys of our Cub Scout Pack could be with us along with a number of their parents and leaders.  We are grateful for every teacher in our lives who knows the wisdom of passing on character, life-skills, and attitudes that brighten up the lives of our young people. There are so many distractions today that are in competition for the attention of the young, impressionable minds of our children.   Thank you for Scouting that is among the wholesome alternatives.  

Every new day we are given the opportunity to create a newer version of ourselves.  Please give us the vision, O God, to see ourselves as you see us and to build on that vision.  One of the mysteries of living is that we never know who we are influencing by our thoughtful expressions of kindness.  Help us to become an inspiration to others by our choices.  We pray these thoughts through the spirit of Jesus, the Christ, who taught us to say when we pray . . .