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Archive for the ‘Meditations’ Category

Asaph was struggling–or at least he was remembering a time he had been.  People don’t say things like, “…I was in distress,” or “… my soul refused to be comforted,” or “I was too troubled to speak” (things would have to be really, really horrible for me to get to that last one!) unless they’re having a tough time of it.  It had gotten to the point where he was beginning to have doubts about the big things:  “Has God’s unfailing love vanished forever?…Has His promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?”

As all of this tumbled out of his heart to his mind and to his mouth, Asaph had an “Aha!” moment.  Bubbling up through all that rot was something on which he could get a grip and to which he could cling:  “the years of the right hand of the Most High.”  Figuratively, the right hand was the place from where good came.  It was a place of favor.  Asaph, in a flash of recall, didn’t lock on a single event, but instead flipped through the rolodex of time.  He began to “remember the deeds of the LORD… [His] miracles of long ago.”

Maybe he remembered the giant building project that God had set for a certain Noah and his sons–a boat bigger than anyone had ever seen or heard of, to save from a degree of destructiveness no one could fathom, brought about by the agency of an amount of water that was unthinkable.  God preserved that one little family and a boatful of animal pairs for the continuation of humanity and of His creation.   Maybe Asaph thought about the time, just as his forefather Abraham had been about to slit the throat of his son Isaac because God had told him to offer the boy as a sacrifice and it was Abraham’s habit to do what God said, that a loud bleat of a ram caught in a thicket nearby had been God’s way of being a Rescuer in a different way, providing a sacrifice that wasn’t a dearly loved son, just at the time when Abraham needed Him to come through, but not a moment sooner.

There had been miracles, too.  Water that did funny things like turn from bitter to sweet when a stick was thrown into it, or that came out of a rock when a man named Moses struck it, or, for goodness sake! that blew up into giant walls on both sides of a dry path made right through the middle of a sea!  Donkeys that talked, days made longer by the sun standing still, and a young boy given strength to kill a lion and a bear and, finally, a giant, with the unsophisticated weaponry that was a simple sling and a few rocks.

By the time Asaph has mentally visited a few of these “memorials” from his nation’s past or maybe some from a nearer, more personal time in his own or his immediate family’s life, his heart is singing a different tune:  “What God is so great as our God?…With your mighty arm You redeemed your people.”  He’s really on a roll now, enumerating nature’s response to this Almighty One: writhing, convulsing waters; resounding thunder; flashing lightning; quaking earth.  He recognizes the Unseenness of the One whose power can’t help but be seen if we are looking:  “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

For all that, the personal touch of this mighty God in whom Asaph’s confidence has been restored by considering what he’s seen is not lost on him:  “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  In that simple declaration, God’s tender shepherd qualities and the fact that He often works His wonders and His will through human agency are acknowledged.

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These are the things that I pondered as I reflected on Psalm 77 this morning.  It made me think again of a song lyric that comes to my mind often–“We’ll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that is to come.”  In those moments when life’s low times would grab at my feet and threaten to keep me under till I’m overwhelmed and drowning because of the weightiness of living in this place that sometimes lacks light and harmony and beauty, I must do what Asaph did.  I must consider what I’ve seen.  When I do, the low times let go and I rise to the surface to breathe in the beautiy of life in the sun, with a buoyancy that will let me get to a place of looking up, of rescue, of going on with hope and assurance.

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Whoda Thunkit?

Sometimes an impulse purchase can be pure gold. 

So it has been this past year with a little last-minute, on-a-whim item I purchased for Michael’s Christmas stocking in 2007.  I usually view those little Hallmark books that are out there with all the greeting cards in the drugstore as last resort purchases for those with little time or creativity.  Maybe that was me at that point in my stocking shopping last year.  Anyway, as I leafed through the book, Bedtime Blessings by Chuck Swindoll, it seemed better than most and I made the purchase.  I even marked a few selections with red stars before wrapping it and giving it. 

As it turns out,  this little gem has launched a number of our family’s days in a positive, hopeful direction. (I know–the title says Bedtime Blessings…but a blessing is a blessing, no matter the time of day.)  Right about the time school started last fall, Michael decided that so many of the short devotional thoughts capped off by a Bible verse had been meaningful to him that he chose to share them with Zach and me at breakfast.  I will always remember how the reading that came up on Zach’s first day at South Side High School was so seemingly hand-picked for my mother’s heart that morning that it made me cry tears of joy that God would care so well for me.  There have been many of those mornings–when the reading for that day seemed to be heaven-timed–since then.  

Well, today was another one of those days.  The reading and Scripture seemed so perfect for this first day back to school/work after Christmas break.  It is so right for what we know will be a one-of-a-kind semester for us, since Michael’s 24 years of employment at Fort Wayne Bible College/Summit Christian College/TUFW (all the same institution of higher education, just different incarnations of it) will cease when the campus closes on May 31. 

So, I share, in the hope that it might “hit the spot” for you as well.  You just never know about those impulse purchases.

January 5 – How wonderful that God personally cares about those things that worry us and prey upon our thoughts.  He cares about them more than we care about them.  Not a single nagging, aching, worrisome, stomach-tensing, blood-pressure-raising thought escapes His notice.  “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern.”  (I Peter 5:7, Phillips translation)

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This morning I read all the Gospel writers’ accounts of the Last Supper (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22…John tells his version, too–John 13–but does not include the part I’m referencing in this post).  I know that what actually happened at that most unique Passover meal is what we usually focus on as significant–and rightly so.  But, in today’s reading, I was struck by something else.

It is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which will last seven days.  The kickoff event is the Passover supper, which is eaten on the evening of the first day.  Jesus’ disciples–Luke names only two, Peter and John, those closest to Jesus–ask Him where they should make the preparations for the shared meal.  They are away from home, in Jerusalem, so obviously they will have the meal in a place that belongs to someone else.  Jesus sends the disciples ahead with very specific instructions:  They will find a particular man carrying a jar of water.  They are to follow him and, when he arrives at his destination, they are to speak with the owner of that house.  They are to tell the homeowner that the Teacher needs to use the guest room of the house to celebrate the Passover that night with his disciples.  Jesus also tells them that they will find the guest room furnished and ready.  They do as they are told, find things as they have been told they will, and make final preparations for what will take place later.

We see the “fully God” side of Jesus in this interchange:  he knows where that man with the jar will be at that particular time and connects His disciples with him to accomplish His purposes.  I wondered as I read how things might have turned out differently if the servant had gotten waylaid by a long line at the well or by some terrified,unruly lambs that had gotten away from their shepherd and were helter-skeltering through the streets.  But I’m reminded in that thinking that when God has a plan, He is orchestrating behind the scenes.  I should be amazed again at that realization–some of the quirky little things that happen in my world on any given day may well be part of God’s grand plan for my life!

The thing, though, that really grabbed my attention was “furnished and ready”.  That was going to be the condition of this guest room about which the disciples were inquiring.  In books and movies, the guest room is ready and waiting.  In my life, “Company’s coming!” is a catalyst to a flurry of cleaning that procrastination has left undone until my hand is forced.  (If you come to visit, I promise you presentable surroundings, although I may not have done an entire spring or fall housecleaning.) 

What if the owner of the house had operated in my all-too-frequent mode of procrastination?  If the room had not been ready and furnished, there would have been a missed opportunity.  Jesus, knowing all things, could just as easily have located another marker in the city to guide the disciples to the home of someone who was prepared to serve the Teacher’s needs and purposes.

I ponder:  Are the spaces of my life “furnished and ready” for whatever use Jesus might want to make of them today?  Is His Word fresh in my heart and on my tongue if I connect with a person who needs to hear from Him through my voice?  Is there margin enough in this day so that I will even notice if that person steps foot into the rooms that are its hours?  Am I equipped well for what is expected of me in the arenas where I serve, or have I procrastinated in getting ready?

Lord, If I have failed in any way to be “furnished and ready” for the opportunities you desire in this day, show me, tidy my heart, and set me straight.  Amen.

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