Ever felt weak? My weakness is physical, such that I have days where I feel I don't have the strength to stand up out of my chair. Ever felt speechless before God? The Prophet Daniel saw a vision of the glory of God. Then he found himself face down on the ground in a deep sleep. Daniel 10:9 Then a hand touched him and set him up on his knees and the palms of his hands. But, when he was told that God had heard his prayers from the first day he had begun to pray, he again looked at the ground and couldn't speak. This makes me wonder how God has already responded to my prayer for healing. I know that there is coming the day of healing.
Again Daniel was touched by a hand and his mouth was opened. But we find he complains that he has no strength to speak or to even hear the Word of God. Daniel 10:17, 18, 19 So, he receives this third touch from the hand of the angelic being. Finally he now feels that he has been strengthened. He looks at the angel and asks him to speak.
Yes, God still speaks in various ways. He still hears our prayers from day one, too. Don't make the mistake of thinking God can't hear. Isaiah 59:1 God has strong hands. Psalm 89:13 Has God told you something you don't think you want to hear, or that you don't think you have the strength to hear? It will be ok, because He is strong enough. Daniel 6:16 Yes, Daniel. Your God will deliver you from the mouth of the lions, too. Here just four chapters before Daniel's prayer and fasting vigils that resulted in the three touches from the angel of the Lord, here in chapter six we see that Daniel was thrown into a den of lions. You would think that a man who could sleep in a lion's den would not be afraid to speak to angels.
And, how did God save him from the mouths of the lions? Daniel 6:22 I wonder if Daniel saw the angel. I mean, sometimes you can be aware of angelic presence without seeing them with your eyes. And, sometimes we speak of angels of God protecting us because we speak from faith rather than sight.
Daniel would be considered spiritually strong by most christians, based on his lion's-den faith. But, he professed to being weak later. The fact is certain spiritual battles leave us temporarily weakened, like fasting, for example. Sometimes we are weakest after an extended fast. Sometimes we just feel weak in proportion to the job we see before us. Whatever the cause, there are times we all feel weak. There are times we feel empty and spiritless.
In Ezekiel 37:1-2 the prophet Ezekiel tells of a time he felt the hand of God carry him to a dry place, and set him down in the midst of dry bones. I have written a new piece called Restored Bones about Ezekiel on my Sunrise Scriptures site. Yes, these bones were symbolic of his people, the Israelites. He saw his people as dry and spiritless. Dead! Even the bones were separated from each other. The dryness was symbolic of both a lack of life and a lack of the Spirit of God. Israel was scattered in exile, like those bones. But, worse yet, they were spiritually dead.
God asked Ezekiel if he thought those bones could be revived. Ezekiel 37:3, 4, 5 Ezekiel answered that God knows. God then instructed him to prophesy to the bones that God would cause them to breathe again. Ezekiel 37:7-8 The preacher preached and things started shaking, but there was still no breath in those weak bones until the Spirit moved. Ezekiel 37:9-10 Wind is symbolic of the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost began to move on that weak, dry flesh. Notice that the result was "an exceeding great army." Wow! That's strength! Soldiers are strong enough to fight battles.
The Spirit of God is the source of our strength. The Spirit of God will revive you and strengthen you. That's why we feel such a connection to God. We are connected through the Spirit. When I am weakest, then I am strongest because it is His Spirit that moves me. 2 Corinthians 12:10 We have this access... Ephesians 3:12-13 "...faint not..."
If you are connected to the source of the Spirit, then you have access to a greater strength. You won't faint in trials. You will find strength to stand... when you thought you were weak. If you are feeling any weakness, I pray God breathes strength into you.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33, 12:1-11
Yes, everybody plays the fool sometimes. Here you see Paul playing the fool, illustrating for the early church two things: first the foolishness of bragging about what God has done through your life, and second the fact that the best thing we have is our weakness and dependence on Christ. It reminds me of the story C. S. Lewis tells at the end of the chapter titled Faith in his book, Mere Christianity.
"It is like a small child going to its father and saying, 'Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.' Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction."
The fact is, as Lewis makes the point, everything we have is given from God. How can we boast of what we have received?
But, Paul continues to explain that the strength of Jesus is illustrated best in our weakness. So, when we are compelled by our own need to turn to Christ, we then end up with more strength than we would have had, had we not been deficient to start with. This too can be illustrated with C. S. Lewis' anecdote of the six pennies, for the boy now is six pennies and/or a gift for his Father richer in the deal. That is all we have to boast of, the pleasure in sharing the gift, is it not?!
Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by
inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Yes, the book of Hebrews is focused on the "better things" in this life. Because Jesus was made better than the angels, His name was greater than theirs. Man was created below the angels. But, Jesus was greater than the angels. He comanded angels. Since jesus was better, He ushered in a "better hope" that could make things better for us.
Hebrews 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a
better hope did; by which we draw near unto God.
As a matter of fact, Jesus was the down payment and collateral on our covenant with God. This assured us a better covenant than the Israelites received under the Mosaic Covenant.
Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant.
This better covenant allowed Christ to minister to us, to meet our needs. The basis of our covenant is the promises of salvation. That is definitely a "better promise."
Hebrews 8:6 But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much
also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better
The tabernacle in the wilderness was only a symbol for things to come...better things. The Israelites sprinkled the blood of bulls and goats as a symbolic act of remission for sins, that were imperfectly removed. But, Jesus' sacrifice was a "better sacrifice" for us.
Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the
heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with
better sacrifices than these.
If we give up anything here on earth, we know that what we invest into the kingdom will reap "better possessions" in heaven, lasting possessions.
Hebrews 10:34 For you had compassion on me in my bonds, and took joyfully
the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a
better and an enduring possession.
As a matter of fact, those better possessions include a "better country" and a "better resurrection." These last three better things are found in the "Faith Chapter," in reference to the Heroes of Faith who were seeking better things than we can receive from God here on earth.
Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly:
therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for
them a city.
Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others
were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better
Hebrews 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they
without us should not be made perfect.
All faith is built on an expectation of something greater being received. The book of Hebrews is an intriguing book. I hope you find something in it better than what I would have written over the next four nights, since I will be away from my computer. I will be spending these few days with the love of my life, one of the "better" blessings God has brought into my life. I was reflecting recently on how much of an effect one person can have on your life (namely a doctor) in a moment of weakness. I try not to think about that, but I guess we as humans are prone to moments of regret. Anyways, I was struck, rather sadly, with the shocking fact that she had been probably the person who had changed my life the most, of anybody I had ever known. She did change so much of who I am, or so I was thinking. Then it hit me...no, she really didn't. My husband is the one who changed me more than any other person in the world. He changed me in better more lasting ways. I will recover and heal from all the medical problems resulting from the injury. I will eventually be able to ride a bike and run again. But, I will never be able to undo the love that I feel for my husband Larry, nor its effect on my life. What better things God has in store for each of His children!
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the
blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Yes, we have better things to think about.
Psalms 102:13-14 You shall arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For your servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.
Even the dust of Zion far exceeds the treasures beyond the Hill of the Lord. God's got so much more for His people; more than pebbles and dust here. And, its been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come. This Psalm reminds me of the old Spiritual...
It's been a long time coming But a change is gonna come
When the dark clouds pass away Feel the warmness of the sun
I know that You love me, oh yeah, I know that you care
I can't wait to be by Your side In the middle of the air.
Until my change comes Here's what I'll do
Renew my strength Keep holding on
I'll wait on You.
It ain't gonna be easy But I'll be strong.
Some say if You Really cared um,
It wouldn't take so long for You to Return for me
If with You is where I ought to be
But I'm gonna believe until that day I will
Gotta wait gotta wait on you That's what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna stand still I just wanna be in your will
Just like David and Goliath I gotta encourage my soul, yeah
Said I'm gonna stand still Until um...
When the LORD shall build up Zion,
(And He's just getting started building.)
he shall appear in his glory.
(Can't you see Him in the middle of the air?!)
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come:
and the people who shall be created shall praise the LORD.
(The here and now...written ages past for the age present.)
For he has looked down from the height of his sanctuary;
from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
(He's looking at YOU!!!)
To hear the groaning of the prisoner;
to loose those that are appointed to death;
(Go ahead...you know you want to rattle those chains!)
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the people are gathered together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
(Have you ever felt weak?)
I said, O my God, take me not away
in the midst of my days:
(Don't you just know God has got so much more for you to do?)
your years are throughout all generations.
Of old have you laid the foundation of the earth:
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They shall perish, but you shall endure:
(And, now that we're looking at what God has done...)
yea, all of them shall grow old like a garment;
as a vesture shall you change them, and they shall be changed:
(Don't you know, nothing's going to last forever??!!)
But you are the same, and your years shall have no end.
The children of your servants shall continue,
and their descendants shall be established before you.
(And YOU with Him!)
This earth, this life is just the beginning of what God is doing. he will make a work and this is just the foundation. God gave the Word for a hope of what is yet to come.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples:
and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are
Here, you have it again, written for us in the end.
Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have
Patience + Scripture = Faith. Here we have patience and hope together in the same equation. And, we know that patience adds up to hope. Remember Romans 5?
Romans 5:3-4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing
that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
tribulations = patience = experience = hope
You do the Math.
Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember not the former things, neither consider the
things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall
you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the
And, I can hear another old Spiritual tucked away in my memory now...
I'm gonna lay down my burdens...down by the riverside...down by the riverside... Aint gonna study want no more!
I have a pacemaker implant for my bladder. It causes lots of problems. I've had a rough few months, since we've been trying to get it to function for me. We made some new changes 8 days ago, and I am seeing a major improvement in my ability to get around, I am praying for the improvement to continue, and for a return of my strength.
I don't always understand why things happen like they do. I've been majorly disappointed in the way things have gone with all the surgeries. But, there is always the peace in the midst of the storm that keeps me. My family has suffered major financial losses throughout all these surgeries. But, we're still here. People react differently to the situations we are dealing with, in all the different ways my disability affects other people. I have learned that I can not always change how other people see me in this situation. But, I can change how I feel about how they see me. I've acquired this remarkably freeing sense of "so what?!" I believe that no matter what happens, I have a right to live. I refuse to let anyone control how I feel. They can like me, or hate me. None of this changes how I feel.
I see several examples of this in the Bible. The man who was let down through the ceiling to Jesus for healing didn't let the crowd stop him. The lady with an issue of blood pushed through the crowd without fear of how others saw her. There are other examples. But, I believe God has a purpose for our struggles. None of this is beyond reason. Don't ask me to name reasons for my pain, suffering, losses, and rejections. All that I have to name is Jesus. Jesus can reach down in the middle of my situation and pull me out. When He does, everyone is going to see His miraculous ability and love for me and my family. Everyone is going to see the Healer at work. So, hide and watch.
For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring
down high looks. For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten
my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I
leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD
is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God
save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with
strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and
setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of
steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy
salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me
great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
When God gives me the feet of a deer, I will be running again. You can bet on it!
The randomness of things that happen without seeming rhyme or reason leaves me feeling somewhat befuddled. I just got home from church about an hour ago, without ever making it to church. I got caught in a severe weather situation, and never quite made it there. I did spend a lot of time praying lengthy prayers... mostly for our safety. And, to think I was concerned about going empty handed when I realized I had forgotten my Bible at home! I didn't need it afterall.
Storms have always been moments of glory and beautiful light displays in my eyes. The thunder reverberating leaves me in awe of God's power. But tonight, realizing I would not make it before service was almost over, and pulling off the highway for a bite to eat while we waited the storm out, I found my self screaming as I ran for the IHOP, not from the quarter inch hail pummeling us, or the pouring rain, but from the lightening flashing all around me. I don't think I remember being outside in lightening before, and certainly not in hail. But, I have watched the lightening show front row seat and felt the thunder from the shelter of my front porch in years past. When did my comfort with this vanish?
I used to marvel that my Mother could not recall much of past events in her life, facts and details, while I could list events from each year of my life, and which ornaments were gotten for the tree which year, and who gave them to me. At, least I could until about the age of 40, when the years all began to run together. I used to play a little game with my boys on long road trips. Matt would call out outrageously complicated mathematical calculations for me to solve mentally while I drove, and I could without fail, arrive at the correct answers in mere seconds. He was impressed, I could tell. I always found a calculator to be the "slow" way to figure. I could find the answer mentally before friends could with a calculator. Now, I can comfortably reach the calculator key on my laptop in mere seconds, and arrive at an answer, after mislocating a neuron in my brain and dropping digits all over the floor, trying to do mental arithmetic. I find the numbers trip all over themselves in my head. What happened?
I'm no longer comfortable with driving at night, let alone in storms. These situations make me tense. And, to think, I used to marvel that many "older adults" used to complain that they couldn't see well to drive at night. What's up with that? I remember wondering how I would be able to accept the loss of the children in my home, when they would grow up. But, there came a point when I realized I no longer wanted little kids to raise. I had enough. Now, I find myself ready to let my sister go deal with her children when they start making a fuss while she is on the phone with me. I want no part of the hubbub. I'm tired :)
Ironically, the only thing that hasn't changed is that I miss my Bible if I forget it when I leave the house for anywhere, as if it has a purpose... a reason for lying there on the seat beside me.
Psalms 90:9-12 For all our days are passed away in your wrath: we spend
our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and
ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength
labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power
of your anger? even according to your fear, so is your wrath. So teach us to
number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
In strength is labor and sorrow. Imagine that! Notice the reason? Because it is soon gone. The very reason youth and strength are such a sorrowful thing is because they are fickle, and vanish without reason. This leaves you not only willing to lay aside everything that you valued as you age, but it causes you to come to value the laying down of the care, and the number of your days. But, notice the verse says that our anger equals the strength of our fear? Emotions are all from the same point of origin within us, afterall. We feel emotions with pretty much equal intensity. Fear and anger both escalate when reason vanishes. The best we can make of our moments is to spend them as if there is no yesterday.
Somethings just aren't worth it. When you weigh the cost against the advantages, sometimes you realize it is time to reconsider your options. Quitting has never been an easy option for me. I have had to learn how to change gears many times in recent years, when I never thought I had more than one gear. I always liked to hit the ground running. My biggest fault on the bike is when I'm climbing hills, I can't keep myself out of the higher gears. I just
feel like I'm not doing anything if it's not an all out effort. If I'm not pushing, then I'm sitting still. And, we know that can't be true. I feel the same way about giving up or quitting. I remember rides where any sane newby was dropping out and catching a ride on the sag wagon. And, they were. But, I couldn't. I feel like if I rode in on two wheels, I'm riding out on two wheels, or an ambulance. That's crazy, I know, but it's out of my control most days. I
just hate to feel like I didn't give it my best shot, you know. But, sometimes our best shot is in seeking help. God's help.
Psalms 68:1-4 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that
hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as
wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them
exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him
that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
Destroyer, Protector, Giant, Warrior, Savior, Worshiped One; Psalm 68 is a medley fit for a King. The magnitude of God is extolled in this Psalm. These same words were the words of Moses as the ark of the covenant was lifted each time the camp began to move in Numbers 10:35-36
I like that! Can you picture the men lifting the ark with those words? "Rise up" and destroy your enemies God. It sounds like a wake up call for a Savior. Imagine saying that as the pallbearers lift the coffin at a funeral. "Let this Saint arise!" They don't say that do they? But, you get the point that it sounds like God has been silent, almost asleep. Kind of like when Jesus called, "Lazarus, come forth," calling his 4-day stinky-dead friend out of the grave. Of course, Lazarus was dead, but God is always awake, my friend. Even when a stone is blocking your view.
I can picture the swirling smoke, like leaves being tossed in a heavy wind. God is this huge giant and when He stands up, all those who opposed Him just fall on every side... a big, big God! Then, suddenly, He is riding "on" the heavens. Incredible pictures there. First He is surrounded. Then He rides like the wind. But, that's nothing because this Destroyer will now protect the helpless.
Psalms 68:5-6 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is
God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth
out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
This kind of gives God that Robin Hood appeal to see Him destroying foes one minute, and then sheltering the fatherless, the widows, the solitary, and the prisoners in chains. But, God is multi-faceted, right? And, the defenseless need a Protector to destroy their enemies. It often seems like there is a disparity between the people who get help and the people who need help in our society. That is one thing I noticed about the doctor who accidentally messed up my first surgery. She spent a lot of time afterward doing "damage protection," for herself.
The morning of my son's graduation, I was in a lot of pain, still trying to shop for a dress, and had cried a few times in different stores just out of sheer exhaustion from the effort of changing clothes, due to nerve damage limiting the mobility of my legs. I have been avoiding even grocery shopping because of this, but almost nothing in my closet fits anymore. I ran into her accidentally as I was coming out of another store empty handed. She was shorts and sunglasses clad, smiling with her young son on her arm, and asked how I was doing in a sweet sunny voice. I was surprised speechless. I could barely find the words to answer her. I just looked at her and quietly mumbled something about "5 surgeries later...not so well ...since you messed up."
After I got in my car I sat there until I could stop crying again to drive away. So, I called a friend to comfort me. While I cried and talked, she came out of the store without her son, and stood there in front of the store watching me cry on the phone. It appeared that she was suddenly concerned for "her" safety and the safety of "her child." I couldn't believe it. She was acting like I might be about to hurt her, and hid her son. How crazy can you get? That is the point, she is more concerned about her own safety and success than about her patient's life, health, and happiness. Instead of being concerned that I had broken into tears, she was concerned about her perceived safety level.
In the hospital, instead of being concerned about the damage to my body, she was concerned about whether or not she would be held legally liable. God on the other hand, is there to rush to our rescue when things go wrong. God can be a giant in moments like those. He stands up in our defense and shelters us from the storm of ungodly men. Yes, a loving god can be fierce. He turns around the table to protect the helpless, instead of protecting those who have all they need.
The song suddenly changes tracks and we see the trembling, quaking Mt. Sinai in the wilderness with Moses again in verses 7-10. Then the track changes again for a battle scene, or rather a behind the scenes division of the spoils of war.
Psalms 68:11-14 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those
that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at
home divided the spoil. Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye
be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow
gold. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.
This is the passage that first caught my eye in this Psalm. The picture reminds me of a King's heralds sounding out the call. When the message had to go far, many heralds were used to relay battle messages. This sounds like we have an army of preachers carrying the gospel message to the whole world today. Then comes the passage about Zion. In 15 & 16 the psalmist compares Zion to a mountain, but God lives in Zion. And, here comes our Warrior King now, charging on His chariots at the head of His troops with the spoils of war behind Him...
Psalms 68:17-18 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of
angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast
ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for
men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
What are these gifts He gives to men? This was prophetic of Jesus' death. He fought Satan during the three days He was dead. He took the keys of death and hell, and He took captivity captive. He received gifts for us here on earth. Acts chapter two tells us about how the disciples first received the "gift" of the Holy Ghost which Jesus promised to send in Acts chapter one. But, now look back to the Psalm, verse 6. See the part about the rebellious living in a dry land? Here is salvation, as a result of Jesus dying. Here in verse 18, we see that God even wants to live among the rebellious. Jesus died for all of us, even those who don't want the gift.
Then, we see the order of the processional march in verses 24-27, and that is followed with worship fit for a king in verses 28-31, where they call upon God to scatter the enemy before them. The Psalm ends with an open call to praise God, and we hear the mighty voice of Him who rides in the clouds. We are reminded that He gives strength and power to His people. The first line in verse 34 holds the key to the whole Psalm, for me. It beckons us to write about the strength of God. The whole Psalm is about His strength, is it not? And, God is indeed powerful and strong!
Do you need a strong God to come to your rescue? Are you surrounded by the enemy? Then call out to the Mighty God who can save you. He is listening for your call. He helps all those who call on His name.
Psalms 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto you, when my heart
is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
The Psalmist felt overwhelmed. Yes, the writers of Scripture, were men of flesh and blood emotions. You can also see feelings of alienation (from the ends of the earth,) discouragement (seeking for a strength higher than his own,) bewilderment (he wants someone to lead the way, "take me...,") and insecurity (need for safety, "a strong tower from the enemy.")
Psalms 61:3 "For you have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower
from the enemy."
Being a wise man, and a child of God, though self-admittedly feeling lonely and discouraged, he realizes that God is his Rock and Strong Tower who can ease his discouragement and renew his strength. He goes directly to the source of comfort. He turns to God's abode, to the sheltering wings of God. He turns to the Church. His words are poignant:
Psalms 61:4-5 I will abide in your tabernacle forever: I will trust
in the shelter of your wings. Selah. For you, O God, have heard my vows: you
have given me the heritage of those that fear your name.
The man remembers that he has made some vows (plural) to God. He remembers that vows are a mutually contractual arrangement between two parties. Vows never are issued by one person alone. If you have vows that stand before God, then God is bound to His end of the promise. And, here the Psalmist names that end; a heritage with the people of God. What a reward! What a bargain! I will be faithful to you, the King of Kings, and you will give me a heritage with your people, in your Kingdom. Faithfulness means being full of faith. Do you believe in God? Can God believe in you? If so, you are faithful.
A man with vows, and a heritage, and a kinship is not so much alone or lost, after all. Here in his vows he discovers his sense of kinship, courage, direction, and security. He is reminded of all this in the church...God's dwelling place.
Song of Solomon 1:7-8 Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you
feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that
turns aside by the flocks of your companions? If you know not, O you fairest
among women, go your way forth in the footsteps of the flock, and feed your kids
beside the shepherds' tents.
Here the question is asked, "Where can God be found?" We are reminded to follow the flock to the Shepherd's tent. Looking for God, our Shepherd? Then you will find Him in church. Courage, kinship, security, and direction are not found in visiting church once a month. These emotions are built up in increments from the repeated exposure to the Word.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not
believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how
shall they hear without a preacher?
A few thousand years later, we still can not find a sense of security or direction when we neglect the Word. The Word of God is the Bread of Life. It nourishes our souls like food does our bodies. Most babies tire quickly of being spoon fed, and quickly become self-feeders. I would hate to only be able to feed on God's Word a few times a week. That doesn't mean the self-feeding child fails to show up at the table where meals are being served. But, imagine if you couldn't read your Bible between services.
Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I did eat them; and your word
was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by your name, O
LORD God of hosts.
Yet, sometimes we still find ourselves needing God to do for us what we can't do for ourselves. We need God to lead our feet in the path that they do not know. Have you ever walked unfamiliar paths without a guide? It is not a comforting occupation. But, we will find Jesus' grace abundantly sufficient for all our paths, if we only realize our personal weakness and cry out to Him. Look at the Psalm as a whole and notice the progressive pattern of the "I wills.
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto you,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in your tabernacle forever:
I will trust in the shelter of your wings. Selah.
For you, O God, have heard my vows:
you have given me the heritage of those that fear your name.
You will prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever:
O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
So will I sing praise unto your name forever,
that I may daily perform my vows.
Walking the unfamiliar paths will not happen by accident. Only by purpose and determination can we walk when the way seems unclear, and the work overwhelms our soul. These are commodities; like pride. Determination and purpose are things to be valued in and of themselves. Where some people find themselves impoverished of pride, others are poor in determination and purpose in life. This becomes clear when you see that rich and poor men alike can have either an abundance or a dearth of pride. Nowhere can we find a clearer picture of what it feels like to be overwhelmed, than in a ship tossed at sea. The view of a lighthouse is definitely a comforting strong tower for the ship lost in the storm. Consider the storm at sea...
Psalms 107:23-30 "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do
business on great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in
the deep. For he commands, and raises the stormy wind, who lifts up the waves
thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their
soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a
drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their
trouble, and he brings them out of their distresses. He makes the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are quiet;
so he brings them unto their desired haven."
As John Wayne would say, "Where are you heading pilgrim?"
A woman and her husband, a beautiful home, and immaculately kept lawn and gardens. On nature walks through the woods nearby they saw wild creatures tame enough to hand feed. The night sky filled with stars was not marred by pollution, air traffic, or space debris. And the perfect neighbor, God, took evening strolls with Adam and Eve each evening at dusk.
Sounds Idyllic, I know. Paradise has been conceived of by every culture, and never seems to vary from the same basic ingredients. We really don't require much as human beings do we? All that was missing was a grill...and a few zebra steaks, or maybe catfish. :)
Jesus hung out with fishermen. And, he was handy with a grill. I don't know that He ever ate zebra, but remember the silent feast of fishes by the seashore that early morning beyond Calvary in John 21? Peter's Fishing Expedition had caught nothing all night. But, Jesus had called out from the shore with an inside tip, producing a miraculous draught of fish. Then Peter dove rashly into the water and swam to Jesus. Jesus instructed them to bring Him some of the catch to add to the grill. They ate the fish apparantly in silence. Jesus looked at Peter sitting there with the water dripping off his coat, droplets sizzling in the heat of the campfire. It was then that Jesus opened the subject the others must have been dreading. "Do you love me?" I'm sure the others all breathed a sigh of relief that Jesus singled out Peter, instead of them to drill about the issue. I am amazed at Jesus asking only about Peter's love, and not his faith. We get it all backwards. We think God cares so much about what we believe or know, while He is wondering how much we love Him. It's all about relationship.
If you look back to the last meal Jesus spent alone with the disciples, the Last Supper, you will find Peter protesting to Jesus that he will never be offended over Jesus. Matthew 26 Then he denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would. I'm sure this meeting with Jesus had to be an uncomfortable reminder of their failures. I'm sure their denial and abandonment was on Jesus' mind. But, He forgave them.
Of course, Adam and Eve had failed in Paradise as well... the best of situations. But, God had a solution to the failure problem. Incarnation and Pentecost: twin historical events where God came down to man, to redeem and restore His fallen creation to Himself. Sadly, neither event would solve the love problem. It would take Jesus' crucifixion to teach us how to love Him.
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
We didn't even recognize love until he died for us. Strange isn't it? If love is blind...why do we see so clearly when we fall in love with Jesus?