where did August go?

So, alas, August came and went and I did not blog at all. Now it is barely September, and I hope to get back into a routine which will include blogging.

I have enjoyed reading through the Bible this summer. I started out attempting “90 days in the Word” which is turning into, well, a few more than 90. It has been enlightening to get a broad sweeping overview of the Story that is also my story through the life Christ has given me.  And regardless of how many times I read the Bible, I always find something new. Here are a few of my favorites from  the past few weeks:

Isaiah 60:4 – a picture of heaven, when Christ returns again: “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!” Particularly poignant in light of our friend Beverlee Kirkland’s recent home-going

convicting commentary in Jeremiah that so easily applies to me and to our culture today: “From the least to the greatest, their lives are rules by greed.” (Jeremiah 6:1-3)

Jeremiah 31:25 – God is talking about the future restoration of Israel from their captivity – and  ultimately pointing to Jesus’ arrival as the one who invites all into His rest – “For I have given REST to the weary and JOY to the sorrowing.”

Micah 7:7-8 – “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

Luke 1:78-79 – “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Zechariah, a prophet in Jesus’ day, speaks these words when he sees baby Jesus in the Temple for the first time

And a convicting note to end on, which I’ll point you to Katherine’s blog to read a full exposition on this idea: Luke 21:34 -“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day [when Jesus returns or when we die] catch you unaware …” It’s easy to see how the heart grows dull through “carousing and drunkenness” but Jesus goes further to include “this life’s worries.” Who can not but relate to that one? It is much more subtle, this kind of dulling of the heart and numbing to the Life that is truly life. Oh, that we would NOT be caught unaware!

leaning on the everlasting arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

We closed our worship service at my church this morning with this old hymn. It was the fitting closing to a sermon on Deuteronomy 33: a series of final blessings Moses gives to the Israelites, tribe by tribe, which ends with these verses: “There is none like God, O Jeshurun [a term for the Israelites], who rides through the heaves to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” Noah Huss, a seminary student, was preaching this morning and one thought in particular stood out to me. He highlighted the idea that we, like Israel, although held secure by our God’s everlasting and strong arms, continually stray after idols and other things which ARE NOT God. The irony is that we are held by God and yet we often anxiously ask Him for new idols to which we cling desperately … as if what we’re holding is better and more powerful than the ONE who holds us. We forget where we are.

And so then my prayers begin to look something like the following:

“God, please work out my schedule today so that I can do what I want to do (and am planning to do) when I want to do it. Don’t let me be interrupted.”

“Lord, would you heal this terrible cold I have? Quickly? And keep me from getting any more colds this winter?”

“Father, would you provide more money for us? So that we can dress in nicer clothes and drive shiny new cars and be able to buy a home?”

“God, please keep trouble and suffering away from me. Will you please deliver me from the current troubling situation? And give me strength so that I can think that I did this on my own?”

Can you relate? Perhaps not to how obvious those examples are … and rarely do my prayers actually sound this obviously idolatrous. But if I’m honest, this is what’s often in my heart. NOT that God doesn’t care about every detail of my life, like the fact that I’m fighting a cold or that we would like to live in an apartment with 2 bedrooms one day, but His heart desire is that I would want HIM more than I want any of these things or comforts. And that my prayers would begin with resting in Him. Realizing I have what makes me most secure already — that I have true comfort and eternal treasures.

Where do you struggle? What do you run to the most? And what helps you to remember your secure place in the arms of our Father God?

For those of you “reading” to whom this concept seems quite strange, I hope and pray that you will one day know the security of this God-embrace I’m discussing. It’s only possible as our brokenness of sin that separates us from God is restored through the saving work of Christ on the cross. And, oh, what true security and comfort is found in God’s embrace to us in Christ! It is a wonder that we who know its comfort struggle so …