Semi-Quarantine Musings

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8-9

This was among the first passages of Scripture I memorized with my kids back in our homeschooling days.

Today after an incredibly appropriate virtual church service, I watched the kids belonging to a friend and her worship team. While I had this captive, non-teenage audience, I had a little Q and A time with them concerning Moses and Joshua. I briefly told them about when Joshua began to lead Israel following Moses’s death, and I tried to quote this memory verse.

It seems Ms. Heather needs to get back into practicing her memory work. The old memory just doesn’t work so well these days.

Anyway, I’m sure the words were comforting to Joshua when the Lord spoke them to him. They can be equally comforting to us today.

Who knows what the future holds? Some schools are closed, some are not. The grocery store shelves are barren of toilet paper and other random items. Major league sports teams have called off upcoming games. People are scared.

But you know what? God saw this coming. As a matter of fact, there’s a bit of ironic proof it you want to go back and click on the link above to hear the message my family listened to this morning!

If we belong to the Lord, there is nothing to fear. This could be a good time – a very good time – for us to lay down all our frantic distractions and listen to Him.

I can’t help but note that when He assured Joshua of His presence before he went in to take the Promised Land, He also reminded the man to continually meditate on the Book of the Law and be careful to do it.

We have that Book of the Law and so much more; we have the full counsel of the Word of God within arm’s reach in paper or in digital form. We even have a luxury Joshua would have lacked – our choice of translation.

Folks, we don’t have to learn ancient Hebrew to read it (although there’s a much greater depth to it in Hebrew than English can fully capture). We don’t even have to read it at all. We can open the Bible app and have a stranger read it to us. We have no real excuses!

Let’s take this time as a gift – an enforced Sabbath for all the decades and decades of Sabbaths we’ve ignored – and spend more time in the Word.

I know this gal is going to spend a bit more time meditating on it than I have in recent years. The shocking failure of my memory today served to bring that neglected area to the forefront of my attention.

I can’t wait to see what else God brings to mind in the days and weeks to come. I’m sure He’ll reveal other areas where I need to be more faithful or where I need to repent and obey.

I don’t think it will be easy. But I know God and whatever He does, I know it will be good.

And I know there’s no reason to be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go – even if I go nowhere.

If you don’t have that assurance, get into His word and do business with Him today. Why wait? With no sports to distract you and fewer excuses than ever before, take this gift of time and get serious about eternal matters.

I’ll look forward to hearing your stories of how God used the coronavirus pandemic for His glory, whether you choose to share them here or we talk them over in eternity. But don’t delay. Let’s get serious about God and see how seriously good the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob really is.

While you’re meditating on His Word, get outside and explore the world He’s created. You may find some of His fingerprints along the way.

PS – The photo is not a virus, nor is it an alien seed like I told the kids, but it is a fungus. I found it today while walking around my back yard with a one-year-old watching his older friends running and playing. Curious about it? Check out Detective Gluck’s blog post to learn more!

On Fear

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

It’s true that I have not yet faced what can truly be called “persecution” in my Christian walk. Oh, I’ve had a little mockery here and there, but unlike so many of my fellows, I have also enjoyed the luxurious freedom to read my Bible every single day. I am able to purchase numerous commentaries, Bible translations,  and Bible study materials.  Not only that, but I meet frequently and openly with others to discuss the Word, to pray, and to worship — and I am able to do all these things without fear of being arrested, beaten, slaughtered, or having my offspring taken into state custody.

Still, persecution has been on my mind lately. For one thing, my heart breaks to hear of the pain and the wretchedness experienced by so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ overseas. And while I live in a free land at present, I have enough of a grasp of history to understand the changeable and uncertain nature of governments, borders, and empires. My current freedoms are neither guaranteed nor even likely to last for many more generations, and I cannot promise my children that the relatively friendly world we operate within will be there for the remainder of our lives.

It is a sobering fact that one thing Christians are guaranteed in this life is persecution. In the same letter that today’s opening Scripture came from, Paul also assured Timothy, “Indeed,all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

Does that scare me? If I am honest, I must admit that it frequently does. However, we who are in Christ are given another guarantee, one that should help us to endure even the most heinous of circumstances; one that I hang on to when fear constricts my heart. Summed up, it is the guarantee that whatever we endure here and now will be worth the hope of eternity we look forward to once we have cast aside these old tents and taken up residence in our true homes.

We have this guarantee in the words of Jesus, whose sacrifice ensured that the suffering of those who are in Him will not last for eternity: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33  We also have it in Paul’s letter to another ancient church, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

So I keep these things in mind. For now, I enjoy my freedoms. I relish my time in the Word and savor public worship and prayer meetings. I am also preparing both myself and my children for what may come, knowing full well that we may or may not live to see true persecution on this hemisphere of the globe.

Whether we ever see persecution or not, we are still called to be a people prepared, and so I pray daily for my family:  for our sanctification, for deeper devotion, for stronger, genuine faith. I also spend time reading and reveling in the Word and encouraging my children to do so. We actively memorize and rehearse Scripture, hiding it in our hearts both so we might not sin against God and because of the possibility that what we have stored in our hearts may someday be all we have access to.

I also remind myself constantly that my God has not given me a spirit of fear. I can trust Him. I do not look forward to persecution, but neither should I let the dread of it weigh on my mind, color my decisions, or keep me from living boldly for my God even if it someday means suffering unflinchingly for Him. He has already suffered unflinchingly for me.

 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:6