Going Through the Motions

IMG_5221

Ever have one of those days where you know you have the hope, but it doesn’t quite make its way all the way to your heart in the form of joy? Well, I have had many. I can tell you from personal experience that some days all you can do is go through the motions of faith, knowing that in time, the joy will follow. I was puttering around yesterday, and in between puttering, I put the umbrella up and sat in the patio and read with a big tanker of iced-tea. I was consciously enjoying myself to a degree, but I didn’t feel the way I usually do. There was something just under the surface, lingering. Not really depression, it was more like a damper on my soul. I thought, won’t it be amazing someday, not to ever have days like this. Ever.

I have been reading about the new Heaven and the new Earth. That’s our future hope, but right now as we walk this unredeemed earth full of thorns and thistles and all forms of trials, we join in with nature in the waiting. We go through the motions knowing the joy will come because that is what a real and active faith looks like. It sees the possibility of the redemption in every given moment. Things can turn on a dime. God sees our heart. Sometimes we just have to push through and know that “going through the motions of faith” is not all bad because it teaches us something.

This morning I opened my devotions to these two wonderful sections of Scripture………

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22

And……………

   I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:1-7

Here is where I leave things today folks……..it’s all I have. But I think it’s enough.

Lent Day #42: Inflammatory words

IMG_5196

Jesus has left the desert and started His earthly ministry. He started with His hometown. People were confused, they said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” They thought they knew this “hometown” boy whom they saw tag along with his father to the job site. But now, this man was a mystery. He entered the Temple and opened the scroll from Isaiah and began to read about Himself:

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,…”

At first they marveled at the authority with which He read the words, as if the very words became real in the air around them, they heard it as they had never heard it before. In fact, they were all in awe. The Bible says their eyes were “fastened on Him.”

But when He uttered the next few words, it all went sour.

“The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Immediately things started to unravel. The crowd was so incensed they rushed him to a nearby cliff and attempted to bodily throw him over. From then on He began to focus His ministry elsewhere.

In addition to the lost sheep of Israel, he focused on the lost and lonely, the sick and the dying, the disenchanted and discouraged, the sinner and the outcast, the women and children. He never turned away anyone with an open heart. He was constantly being misunderstood and questioned by those who should have known better.

You might think this idea of “Redemption” is a one time experience, but how many times since He has redeemed your life have you felt so battered and worn down that you needed it all over again? Every day? Every minute? I have found that the greatest hope that Jesus continues to bring is the power of fresh redemption for each new day.

Take today……..let Him have it. Cup it in your hands like a snow white dove, say a prayer over it and throw it up towards Heaven. Send it to flight and watch it head towards the Son as your heart soars free.

Then do it all over again tomorrow! Watch what happens.

A Further Benediction

I'm listening, God.

Last night God really raised a ruckus. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed all around us. That’s two nights of rain now. The night before the wind blew my car a little sideways and I had just finished complaining silently about how, “I just know we won’t get a drop of rain out of this.” Just after my turnoff it started. Everything the sky has held back for the past months it released. Instead of turning for the gym, I went home. I have been in flash floods in the desert where rivers of mud wash away roads.

The lightning and thunder we had last night though, that was something. I almost expected to see a seared place out in front of the house where the bolt hit. A couple of times the flash was blindingly close. The cats hid under the coffee table first, then when they thought the world was ending, they both hid under my bed.

I admit, I love storms. Watching a storm is like watching God do some of His best work. You can’t control it or Him. Sometimes we need that reminder. So last night, we watched the sky light up like daylight, and we heard Him play the drums and cymbals and I said a silent prayer for anyone caught out in it.

This morning I awoke to a further benediction, I got to read my devotions to the sound of pitter-patter rain on the roof. Another storm had silently crept in during the night. But this one was gentle and kind.

And now Pandora is playing someone named Helen Jane Long and piano is falling softly around me. Outside the world rages, but in here all is peace.

Last night during the rain I thought something I always think when it rains buckets, “What if it doesn’t stop?” I thought about Noah and the ark and how he must have felt a mixture of relief and terror when the first few drops hit. And the God-sealed door, and the animals two by two. And then the awful pounding to be let in.

But it was too late. Their lack of faith had failed them, and Noah’s faith has saved a new world.

This morning, everything feels fresh and new…………..and a new day full of the possibility of Redemption.

 

photo credit: google