The wind blowing hard.
Moving vast seasons of life,
to far horizons.
M y t h / T r u t h
grace and mercy moving in.
Blessing and love reign.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Blood Cries Out
I feel a little strange today. Right now my youngest son is riding his bike around the cul de sac bellowing like a siren; he’s pretending to be a paramedic. I rejoice at the joyful heart of my child and his innocent imagination. I am also proud of my oldest son as he makes a life of his own in North Dakota. He’s a grown man now that makes his father proud. And yet there is a heaviness in the pit of my soul; it is like a mournful cry rising out of the earth itself as little children like my own are being murdered for their faith. The dust of the Middle East is muddying up in the blood of the innocents. God have mercy.
Amidst this I still have a paper to write for my Old Testament class, on God’s grace, oddly enough. I will eventually get on my bike today to enjoy the countryside, the sunshine and the feel of my body laboring in the love of cycling. We will probably grill up some tasty steaks on the back patio with an avocado salad.
And yet the pit of my soul beckons me to pray..pray for the children, pray for their parents, pray their faith remains strong, and, yes, pray that the murderers wake up to the wrong they reap with their own hands; no matter what they do, Jesus is still Jesus, and they will someday meet Him. I pray they come to faith prior to their meeting. Even so, I pray for God’s justice to reign through all the cruelty humanity heaps upon humanity.
A New To-Do List
How, then, am I to live my life? Do I hang my head in guilt that I’m not suffering as they? Do I pack, leave my family and head into the danger zone? I don’t think so. I think part of what I’m learning about this pit in my soul is the Holy Spirit encouraging me to pray as mentioned above. But He is also using this to remind me to be thankful for the life I am living, to love my sons with all I have, and to protect my marriage and my Bride by not taking her for granted, or having a wandering eye, or by thinking of her as anything less than a dear daughter of the Most High God. And to take care of myself, the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).
I can rejoice and I can weep. I can pray and I can celebrate. I can rebuke guilt and embrace the love of God that washes clean each heart of faith. I can go on with my day with a new motivation to never take for granted the life I live and the people I love and the people that love me. And I can pray…
“That whoever believes in Him should not perish.”
—Jesus, John 3:16
“One of the biggest problems in our families, churches, and missions is that we often insist that others think and judge in the same way we do.”
—Lingenfelter and Mayers, Ministering Cross-Culturally, p. 64
I enjoy this picture because we see different birds of different kinds and sizes all hanging out together on the same log. There’s no bickering, no pushing and shoving, just hanging out in the neighborhood. They’re not comparing the size of their beaks, the color of their feathers or what they consider to be their favorite dinners. They’re just hanging out together.
What about us? Are we like the birds? Are our churches like this log, where all who come feel welcome? Would Jesus even feel welcome or would we expect Him to be like us? Do we expect people to fit in our box or do we accept them as they come? Didn’t Jesus accept you and me as we once were? What if Jesus said instead, “Whoever is right-handed with blue eyes and a Southern accent will not perish?” Clearly implying everyone else is doomed in spite of their faith in Him.
But He didn’t say that then and He doesn’t say that now, but do we? Are we as accepting as Jesus? Are our arms as wide open as His?
Sure, it is often challenging to get to know someone that is different than us; most cultures gravitate to those like them because there’s a commonality and a shared heritage that we draw comfort from. We like what is familiar. But Jesus encourages us to expand our comfort zones. No, we don’t all have to go on a foreign mission, but we can introduce ourselves to the new person in the lobby, or the homeless person in rags at the food bank or to our neighbor that flies a flag of a rival sports team.
The ‘whoever’ Jesus is speaking about may be thousands of miles across the globe or may only be across the room; all you have to do is approach them in love and let the Holy Spirit guide your words. Who knows, you may be able to touch their heart, or…they may be able to touch yours.
Rest is somewhat elusive for me. I’m not prone to resting nor do I find it all that productive. Sure I get tired and I sit down, but even then I’m usually “doing” something whether it’s reading, writing, watching YouTube or having a conversation. But does all this constitute rest?
Psalm 16 has an interesting expression of rest. “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope” (verse 9). Why is the psalmist, in this case, David, feeling a sense of rest and what does this word mean?
Answering the second first will reveal as one scours a reliable concordance or Bible software program that rest means to become quiet, to abide or dwell, to settle or even to fix. Also, if you scan my blog archive you’ll find I’ve written on or around this subject many times. But Psalm 16 has a slightly different ring to it when answering the first question. Verse 1 states, “preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” Verse 8 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
Seeing More Clearly
Ah ha, I’m seeing yet another theme to rest I had not seen before; that is, I can have a sense of rest in my soul because I have placed my trust in Jesus. No matter if I am busy or sitting quietly, I can still have a sense of rest in the depths of my soul because I know my ultimate destiny is in Heaven.
This doesn’t mean I will all of the sudden jettison away the importance of resting my body and mind, those remain important, but now I have a fuller understanding of rest; that a fully developed sense of rest includes ceasing or quieting from physical and mental labor, but it is not complete until one has placed their trust in Christ.
I’m tired now—see ya later!