Our eyes are on You.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. 2 Chronicles 20:12b

I’ve been reading Kings and Chronicles in both devotions and Sunday School. It’s been a pleasure to be able to reflect on these passages twice, and to hear my friends’ interpretations and lessons in these passages.

In a long list of kings (and many of their failures), it was refreshing to read of Jehoshaphat. Like his father, he set out to seek God. Like his father, he has failed when, in the midst of trials, he went to ally with other kings for help. Yet, unlike his father, when reprimanded, he took it to heart… This came after reproof from Jehu, at the next battle.

From Matthew Henry, what Jehoshaphat has learned:

“He professes his entire dependence upon God for deliverance. Though he had a great army on foot, and well disciplined; yet he said, “We have no might against this great company, none without thee, none that we can expect any thing from without thy special presence and blessing, none to boast of, none to trust to; but our eyes are upon thee. We rely upon thee, and from thee is all our expectation. The disease seems desperate: we know not what to do, are quite at a loss, in a great strait. But this is a sovereign remedy, our eyes are upon thee, an eye of acknowledgment and humble submission, an eye of faith and entire dependence, an eye of desire and hearty prayer, an eye of hope and patient expectation.”

It reminds me that I have a God who is in charge of past history and days of the future. And by His will, we are where we are. It is as though he is a great author, writing a wonderful novel. And I am a child learning to write and thinking that He is taking too long. And I can help Him finish writing this chapter. Anytime I try to do that, I feel like I took a marker and scribbled all over the pages. And He looks at me lovingly, kindly takes out the pages I’ve befouled, then replaces them with the pages He wrote – more beautiful than I could ever imagine. And I would think, Now why didn’t I just wait?

And boy, does the cycle repeat!
But I hope, by God’s grace, to one day repeat Jehosphat’s words,
“O God…We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

And then to “stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give.”

SDg

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Enough.

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” |Isaiah 44:22 (From an older sister’s sharing this morning)

On days when you feel inadequate to serve, and the weight of the barriers overwhelming…
When you feel downcast and disappointed by what should have been, but is not.
Remember you were not chosen because you were perfect, but because He is able.

Be willing to follow, and that is enough.

[44 is double 22. Memorize this 🙂 ]

Forget-Me-Not

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.| Lord Byron

I had the pleasure of conversing with an avid gardener at Notre Dame (Hamilton) this week. Eighty-nine years of age, building a new compost area for her garden. So kind and willing to share and teach. I find there are two kinds of people with possessions whom we envy – the possession of material goods, and the possession of good inner character.

This lady possessed the latter. There is an air of kindness in her that you recognize in the first two minutes of talking, with much humility and understanding. She talked to us about the plants, the critters, humans, history, and more.  She taught and encouraged us to keep teaching and being willing to be taught. She attributes her accomplishments to God, as for the uncertainties and disappointments to life, she also believes that God is at work. And she has so many stories to prove it (many, just from the garden alone). As my friends and I bid her farewell for the night, we talked about how “she seemed to have it all figured out,” and “I wish I could be more like her or have her mindset!”

And it made me think how I am… often so easy to complain. Or communicating my doubts so easily. Always fighting something (fatigue, usually) and in a rush to get somewhere. Always succumbing to more and more work that never ends. Never having time to enjoy much (always mentally planning even if I’m physically relaxing).

Looking at this, I realize there is so little in the way I live that would cause anyone to say, “Ahh, she’s ‘figured life out!’ That’s exactly what I thought a Christian would be! How I wish I could live more like her!”
Yes, there are some accomplishments and some possessions. But those are not things that I want to be remembered for!

And this is the funny thing is… It was my convocation this week. The well-wishers tell me it’s an accomplishment. But it was never for the letters behind my name that I went to school. It was always to be more prepared and adequate to help. And there’s so much wanting for inner characteristics.

Eight-nine years old.
Living proof that, Yes, life will be busy and full of tasks and trials. But your busy-ness is not a get-away-free card for being rude or to work without love (i.e. to be cruel). It IS possible to be diligent, productive AND work with love.

 
She left us with this quote (something similar… I don’t remember the exact words):

Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree. |JM

Wisdom comes with age and experience. And a willingness to learn and to share.
It was good to see that you can live without all this fighting and uncertainty.

A picture of health is one of the highest praise from a health professional.

But more and more, I find inner characters much more desirable than even physical health.

A picture of peace. A picture of faith.

Thankful for the accidentally encounters and friends made this week.
And will try to live this out tomorrow.

SDg

The Path of Life

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. |Psalm 16:20

A brother shared the passage in Psalm 16 tonight. And another one reminded me of what is life now, and what life will be like there. It made me think of heaven. In this life, we live by faith, in hope. But on that day, we shall live and be forever with God. We shall LIVE, in perfection, with joy.

There is much pain in the world – we cry as we enter, and leave in tears (ours, or our loved ones). And in between, how few the days are where we can say we were truly happy.

I don’t have much more to say on this, but found some encouragement Matthew Henry’s interpretation of the last few verses in Psalm 16, below:

“1. …It is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us, and to see him continually at our right hand…our sure guide and strict observer; and, while we do thus, we shall not be moved either from our duty or from our comfort. Blessed Paul set the Lord before him, when, though bonds and afflictions did await him, he could bravely say, None of these things move me, Acts 20:24.

2. That, if our eyes be ever towards God, our hearts and tongues may ever rejoice in him; it is our own fault if they do not. If the heart rejoice in God, out of the abundance of that let the mouth speak, to his glory, and the edification of others.

3. That dying Christians, as well as a dying Christ, may cheerfully put off the body, in a believing expectation of a joyful resurrection: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Our bodies have little rest in this world, but in the grave they shall rest as in their beds, Isa. 57:2. We have little to hope for from this life, but we shall rest in hope of a better life; we may put off the body in that hope. Death destroys the hope of man (Job 14:19), but not the hope of a good Christian, Prov. 14:32. He has hope in his death, living hopes in dying moments, hopes that the body shall not be left for ever in the grave, but, though it see corruption for a time, it shall, at the end of the time, be raised to immortality; Christ’s resurrection is an earnest of ours if we be his.

4. That those who live piously with God in their eye may die comfortably with heaven in their eye. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy. All our joys here are empty and defective, but in heaven there is a fullness of joy. Our pleasures here are transient and momentary, and such is the nature of them that it is not fit they should last long; but those at God’s right hand are pleasures for evermore; for they are the pleasures of immortal souls in the immediate vision and fruition of an eternal God.”

SDg

Mere Mortals.

O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. |Psalm 144:3-4

The first time I paid attention to these verses was at the entrance of one of the Body Worlds exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre. As incredible as the body is – its design and composition; so many parts and functions intricately woven into one – it is frail and limited. As I walked about, amazed at the way each display highlights something different, I realized that these were men who once walked among us. Beautiful for a time, but finite.

(Reminds me of Psalm 103:15.)

I look around at my peers and see the incredible things they do: the traveling – walking on such landscapes that we’ve only seen on pages of National Geographic – going from above the clouds to the depths of the oceans. The food, the culture, the people. The daring things done. The advances in their fields to improve the lives of others: humanitarian work, changing policies, leading startups,  improving access to technology, to education, and more. Or, on a smaller (but no less important) scale, raising children, mentoring youths, and taking care of aging parents.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything else left to be done that would put anyone in awe, or has it all been done?

And yet.

There is an end. We come with limits. Our days are written.
If our days are long, we will age and ail.
Our time will be but a memory (but to have the memories at all is a blessing).

I fear, my friends, that we live in a time and a land of ease. We are blessed with so many things and successes in what we do. But have we forgotten the Source of these blessings as we continue to strive for more?

As the psalmist considers his own frailty compared with the unfathomable greatness of his God, then the incomprehensible love that God shows in caring for man, and the blessings He bestows on them, he reaches a conclusion:

Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:15 (NKJV)

Everything else will go – everything you’ve desired or possessed.
But we have a God who never changes.
And how incredible that He should want a relationship with us!*

So if there was ever a reason to be happy (or feel blessed), be happy in knowing that this claim is yours.

SDg

*ODB on a Personal Relationship with God. http://odb.org/personal-relationship-with-god/

(Note, the NIV uses the term ‘mere mortals’ instead of ‘the son of man.’ Just thought that term sounded cool – humbling, but cool. )

On Fears and Faith.

Spirit of the living God, open up my eyes

Show me the pride that blinds me…

Shine in my darkness, mighty as You are

And make me know You as I ought to know You.
|All that thrills my soul. SGM

It’s been another long week of traveling (more so commuting than traveling – traveling seems to have more explorations; this is more back and forth). But I’m seeing that this, too, is a blessing in disguise: Some of my best time for thinking is on long drives, where it’s just the road, some music, and my thoughts and reflections.
Heard this again, “When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit, I will wait…”
It made me think of Abraham and God’s training in his life. A child in old age (when the body was ‘as good as dead’); to be willing to depart from that child (even to death) in obedience; to sojourn all his life living in tents not knowing where to go or settle, but going, nonetheless, because He believes in God… to know that God is able to deliver what He has promised.
So today, when it seems that what we see is contrary to what we had hoped for, and the timelines and deadlines we’ve set  have gone and past, know that God is greater and wiser, and His plans continue to surpass all that we can hope for or imagine. And He is good on His promises*. For He is good.  
SDg
(*John 14:27 and Psalm 37:4 to start. But so many more!)