Satiety

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure…

…You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:8-9, 11

Not many days ago, I was talking with someone about a Bible study group, and in the course of conversation, it was lightheartedly suggested that one member would probably be happier with a beer and a movie. Immediately, I was struck by two thoughts.

First, I have been guilty of the same in my past and only by the grace of God as He has walked with me through many dark valleys of pain have I come to enjoy His presence more and more.

And secondly, how tragic. Sincerely tragic.

On one hand, we have a fermented beverage and a couple of hours’ worth of watching adults play-pretend in front of a camera. On the other hand, we are offered the very Word and Presence of the Most High God, Creator of all things including fermented beverages, adults, and the ability to make cameras. The path of life. Fullness of joy. Pleasures forevermore.

Perhaps because I have been reading in John’s gospel, I was reminded of the sixth chapter in which the Lord miraculously multiplies a few loaves and a couple of fish to feed a horde of people. The very next day, they chase Him down only to ask Him, “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” (John 6:30).

On that long-ago day, a multitude of people were offered the Bread of Life and preferred to see a miraculous sign that possibly included breakfast (or so they seem to imply). Discouraged when the Lord did not perform according to their expectations, many turned away (John 6:66).

Too often, we also prefer the gifts to the Giver of all good gifts. Too often, we choose the cheap trinkets and baubles of this world to the spiritual wealth and the immense and uncountable riches of grace found in the presence of God.

Oh, Church! How desperately we need to realign our desires! For as long as we would be more content with mere entertainments instead of indulging ourselves in God and in His law, the world will never see the power of the Gospel at work in us. If our lives and choices do not reflect that our God is, in Himself, truly delightful, how can we expect anyone else to believe it?

…for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Psalms 119:47-48

Adonai who sanctifies us, we borrow from David’s own prayers today as we ask that You will turn open our eyes so that we may behold wondrous things out of Your Law and turn our eyes from worthless things. Incline our hearts to Your testimonies and not to selfish pursuits. Forgive us, and deliver us from our own propensity to selfishness! Search us and know our hearts; try us and know our thoughts. If there is any offensive way in us, help us to let it go and lead us in the way everlasting! 

 

Daddy Can

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:31

Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending a few hours with two sweet young ladies, ages one and three. It has been a while since my kids were that age, and I found it delightful to go through the nap time, the fascination with all the big, wide world, and even the inevitable but short-lived teary sessions when big sister got a little too intense for little sister.

During our time together, the oldest one frequently told me such things as, “My daddy can build anything!

When the littlest was carrying around a piece broken off from a yard toy, big sister had no doubts. “My daddy will fix it.”

When we found two sky-blue bird eggs in the grass, she said, “My daddy will put them back.”

Underlying all of these statements was a confident and blissful certainty that whatever might be wrong with the world, Daddy could handle it. All at once, I was convicted by the very sweetness and simplicity of her trust. For I know her daddy, and while he is an excellent Christian man, husband, and father, there are broken things in this world that are far beyond his power to set straight.

But that is not the case with my Heavenly Father.

The last few months of my life have been marked by oddity. There are tasks I have done for years that I felt called to stop for a time, though I can’t say how long which is troublesome to a planner like me.

More than one exercise I was certain God was calling me to perform has ended with anticlimactic and depressingly fruitless-seeming results. Chronic migraine has awakened again after two years of relative dormancy, and each time I believe we have hit on an answer, it charges back in to prove me wrong.

What’s more, I am facing a strong possibility that my oldest two may go to private school next year; a tremendous change from the last several years of home schooling and thus a great and gaping unknown. This, perhaps more than anything else, has left me feeling emotionally torn as if I’ve been fired from the job I’ve poured everything into.

Beyond my family, the world is going crazy. This years’ presidential hopefuls leave me feeling dismal in my most positive moods, and so many of my fellow Americans seem to have separated church and state in their hearts so entirely that we no longer expect politicians to be moral or good or anything, really, but corrupt.

Perhaps resigned to some idea that corruption is “inevitable” within government, we have allowed it by repeatedly voting it into place.

Then there is the rise of militant branches of Islam, the frightening slide towards moral insanity, the tensions between “races” (which, frankly,  I cannot understand because while I see different skin tones and cultures, I see only one human race populating this earth)… and on, and on, and on.

I have allowed myself to get caught up in fear of the unknown, perhaps even a belief that any of these things are mine to handle. My fear of personal failure has caused my heart to forget that just because God calls me to do something does not mean it will appear successful by the world’s–or indeed even by my own–standards. The rise of darkness, ignorance, unconcern, rudeness, and a general public short attention span that reminds me startlingly of the world described in George Orwell’s 1984 have all crowded into my mind.

In short, I have fallen into the sin of unbelief. I have, to my shame, once again worried about what I will do, forgetting that no matter how large the problem or how shattered the component, my Daddy truly can take care of it. I cannot do it and there is much out of my control, but there is nothing out of His control or beyond the scope of His power.

I do not need to fear the unknown, for it is not unknown to my Father. I only need to follow Him, obediently, humbly, and cheerfully certain that He will accomplish His perfect plan no matter how far-fetched or round-about it may seem to me. I need the guileless, frank, honest, and complete trust of a well-loved child, for such I am.

Father, forgive my lack of faith and help me to trust in You, not just logically, but with my whole heart and with every atom of my being. Remind me that You have not called upon me to know the future nor to understand it, but to believe on You and follow You. Humble me as a child who knows she can do little, but her Father can do all things, amen.  

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
Luke 18:17

Like a Rock

Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter…  And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”    Exodus 15:22-24

My children and I giggled a bit over this passage, although I admit, on my part at least it was a somewhat guilty giggle.  As the last young person finished her turn in the reading, I noted aloud that the Israelites took a significant pendulum swing from a state of joyous praise to dissatisfied griping in three measly days.

To fully understand what I mean, you may want to read the previous portion of Exodus 14 and 15. Go ahead. I’ll wait….

Now, think about what you just read:  Three days after watching the hand of God perform an impossible feat of deliverance involving a massive volume of water, the people seemed unable to grasp that the very same God might possibly be competent to make a little nasty water taste nice.

Three short days — it really is a little amusing. However, if I am honest, the joke’s on me. It is so easy for me to look at the infant nation and wonder how on earth they could have watched something as astonishing as the parting of the Red Sea and still not understood that God is infinitely capable of providing for their needs even when they cannot see how He will.

The sad truth is that I am no different.  I desperately want to be a person possessing unwavering faith in my God, a person who never doubts Him for a moment. But the real me is much more like that group of refugees from Egypt.

On any given day, I may see a glimpse of the enormity of my God and of the goodness and rightness of His plans, yet I rarely need three whole days to slip into disbelief. I have been known to literally sing His praises, filled with unspeakable joy, during an early-morning walk with my dogs only to collapse in frustrated tears before lunchtime because my children are disrespectful or my home school day is not going well.  Three days? It can happen to me in three hours!

Perhaps there is a lesson in this shameful undulation of faith, so like the tides of the sea. It is at such times when my rashness and fickleness are so evident that God’s steadfastness and patience are poignantly underscored.  This,  then, is why God desires so to develop patience and faithfulness in His children — because He is, Himself, patient and faithful.

Perhaps — just perhaps — He has yet one more miracle to perform involving water, considering our flesh is mostly composed of water; one more marvel concerning the tide-like ebb and flow of our faith. For in a display of really ridiculous patience, our long-suffering, holy God continues to allow us access to Himself when we draw near despite the tragic number of times we faithlessly retreat from His presence.

Just maybe as He works in us,  He is gradually increasing the length of our advances toward Him and decreasing the distance we withdraw.  Maybe He will do the impossible and change the shifting waves of our disbelief into fixed and changeless postures of trust.  Maybe even someday in the process of our sanctification, we will find our faith is no longer capricious but has come to look something more like Him , our faithful and steadfast Rock.