Monday, June 16, 2014
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. ~verses 4-6
For a period of several weeks, I kept seeing this Psalm in various places—in memes on Facebook and devotionals I was reading and also quoted by friends. It made me stop and wonder why. I printed it out and read the verses several times, asking God to help me to understand.
I think that perhaps God was telling me to trust him and that’s so difficult to do. I ran across a verse last night, 1John 5:18-19, that says We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
A couple of things struck me from these verses. First, that God keeps his children safe (and that goes along with the psalm). The Lord, according to the psalm, hems us in “behind and before.” God is protecting us. He not only has our back, he’s the point man too. So, what of those Christians who are killed or hurt or become sick?
It’s a difficult concept to grapple with. “Such knowledge” is beyond our understanding. Even through the worst of times, God is still protecting us. The last part of the verse in 1 John is interesting. “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
Evil is all about us, and yet, God keeps us safe. We know that many thousands of Christians have been martyred. This is not about God shielding us from all pain and sorrow. Rather, it’s about the safety of our souls. The part of us that belongs to God is kept safe, the part that matters, the part that continues forever.
The evilness of the world spills over to splash us with pain and sorrow. But the important part of us, the part God hems in, is kept safe. God knows us completely—knows the words we will say before they even leave our mouths. Some believe this speaks of predestination. Again, this is something beyond our complete understanding. However, we know God is beyond time. He knows how the story ends—that does not mean he has it all neatly written. We, somehow, have our own free will to write our own stories, to make choices, to change courses, and it somehow works within God’s great scheme.
And as the story plays out, he lays his hand upon us to guide us and to comfort us. With his hand upon us, we can be courageous, knowing we are forever safe as he hems us in!
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
In a writers’ group I belong to, we were asked to list our goals, hopes, and dreams. I had to ruminate on it for a day or two, and still I’m not sure of my answer, but I’ll give it a stab.
My tangible goal is to work steadily on Thunder’s Shadow, the last of the In the Shadow of the Cedar books. I’m giving myself plenty of leeway here. The tentative publication date will be in December of this year. I have a very rough draft written (50,000 words). If I work four days a week for at least four hours a day, I can be finished with the first pass in four weeks, by the middle of July. It would be ready for Beta readers at that stage. Then, it’s just a matter of polishing it up.
My Goal: Work four hours a day for for days a week until Thunder’s Shadow is complete.
My hope speaks to my tagline—Training my hands, bending His bow, piercing hearts, healing souls.
Part of my hope is to study (train) daily. There’s a part in Rise, Write, Shine that says something like this: we must immerse ourselves in God’s word, so much so that we live out our Christian lives, doing the right thing, without giving it a second thought. And when we become “right” for God, we “write” for God. His righteousness pours forth from us and onto the page. Therefore, the training enables us to become better Christian writers.
The second part, bending His bow, is learning to surrender. Someone had a meme the other day that said to not keep rattling the door when God has firmly locked it. (His bow, by the way, means me. We’re the bows from which He sends forth his word.) Life happens, and we may not like it, but we must learn to accept it.
The next part of my tagline, “piercing hearts,” refers to God’s words being able to prick consciences. We train in His word, bend to His will, and write the words. He will allow them to get to the right place, to offer encouragement or exhortation where it is needed—to pierce hearts.
And the last part, “healing souls,” is about the healing power all Christians have found in God’s word.
My hope: I will immerse myself, drench myself, in the word of God, surrender my life to His will, be courageous enough to allow His thoughts, His words, drip from me and into my books, and have faith His water of life will heal souls. (Did I carry the water metaphor too far? )
My dream: I will find peace, happiness, and contentment in using whatever God gives me to accomplish His will. (And I really hope His will is for me to sell a million books! But, you know, His ways are not our ways and all of that!)
Please help me to find the peace that passes understanding in doing your will for my life. Help me to recognize the path You wish me to take.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Even in the bad times we need to believe God has a plan, a reason for us to experience the bad. Terrible things happen to people. How can we still rejoice in those times?
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways. ~Psalm 139:1-3
God created us and he “gets” us. He knows when we rise and he knows when we lie down. He watches over us during times of sorrow and pain. Do I understand it? No and it can never be fully understood on this side of heaven. He has searched us, probed into the dark recesses of our hearts, and he understands us, inside and out. We often sing a song, “I Surrender All.”
How true is that? Have we surrendered all? Have we stretched out our lives and let God pick us apart or do we curl up in a ball and beg him to leave us alone? Surrendering all means just that—we fully trust God to not destroy us, to believe he loves us. It takes a lifetime of handing our battered lives to him.
When I was five, I had a bout with pneumonia and at first the doctors believed I had tuberculosis. I was isolated in a small hospital room. My parents were not allowed in but could only look at me through the small window in the door. I felt utterly abandoned. Yet, my parents had to hand me over to the hospital staff because they knew the pain from the needle pricks of the nurses and the probing from the doctors were to help, not hurt.
When I recovered, my father carried me to the car, gravel crunching beneath his boots. Still today, the sound of crunching gravel is one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever heard. One day I will hear that gravel crunch as God sweeps me into his arms to carry me home.
This earth is in general a zone of discomfort. If it were not so, would we long so fervently for heaven? This world is not our home and we should not expect all its comforts while we are here. And it’s not all bad. God gives us periods of great joy and happiness while we’re traveling through, a little taste of heaven, to increase our desire to see him. And we know he always cares for us and watches us, just as my parents stood at the small window watching over me.
And isn’t that enough to praise God?
Praise God in the good times.
Praise God in the bad times.
Praise God in the whirlwind.
Praise God in the silence.
Praise God always.