Rain

We’re in the middle of a tropical depression.  Tropical Depression #16.  Somehow giving it a title seems to validate what’s going on outside my windows right now.  Rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  While I’m not exactly looking forward to the morning commute, I can’t get the words to an old hymn out of my mind. 

“There shall be showers of blessing, this is the promise of love.  There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above.  Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need.  Mercy drops ‘round us are falling, but for the showers we plead”.

There’s another verse to the song that isn’t as well known. 

“There shall be showers of blessing, if we but trust and obey. There shall be seasons refreshing, if we let God have His way.”

Maybe I’ll look at the rain differently this morning.  Maybe instead of being irritated at sloppy roads, wet feet and bad hair, I’ll let it remind me of God’s promises and His blessings and His desire to shower them all over me.

 “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.           Ezekiel 34:26

There Shall Be Showers of Blessing,  Daniel Webster Whittle, 1883

Savor

Julia Child would be proud.  I don’t just have “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” on my shelf.  I’ve actually cooked from it.   For my first foray into French cooking, I made Coq Au Vin , which is actually 3 recipes in one – something to keep in mind when timing the preparation. 

It took me 6 hours.  But the fact that it actually involved igniting something made it so totally worth it.

My next undertaking was Steak au Poivre .   A peppercorn-encrusted rib-eye gently bathed in a butter and brandy sauce would give any cardiologist pause, but once in your life you have to at least try it. 

They were both amazing, memorable dishes.  Dishes I didn’t scarf down like my quick piece of toast in the morning.  Dishes I didn’t mindlessly pick at in front of the television.  They were dishes worthy of savoring, taking the time to identify the endless list of ingredients that went into them.  Dishes worthy of sinking into and lingering over.  There might even have been some sighing and rolling of the eyes – just like the TV chefs who try to get you to imagine the taste of the masterpiece they just finished over the last commercial break.

I think God would enjoy them, too.  I think He gave us taste buds so that we would understand what it meant to savor His promises.  “My soul shall be satisfied with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).  Now, if that doesn’t sound like something from Julia Child, what does?   And I haven’t tried any desserts yet, but as the Psalmist says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

I want to remember to savor God’s words.  I don’t want to rush through my quiet time like my morning toast.  I don’t want to mindlessly pick at scripture, distracted by other things going on around me.  I want to put in the effort, take the time,  and maybe even have some sighing and rolling of the eyes as I realize just how amazing and rich and wonderful those words are.

Oh yes, I want to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). 

Thanks for taste buds, Lord.

Dark

I’m in the dark.  The light in my hallway won’t work.  Flip the switch – nothing.  Change the bulb – no difference.  It’s annoying, but at the same time I wonder if there is something more sinister going on.  Something electrical.  Something requiring more than my limited electrical knowledge, which consists solely of the ability to flip switches and plug things in.

I’m in the dark in life, too.  There are some situations where I keep trying to flip the imaginary switches and plug things in so I can see what’s going on and – nothing.   Still dark.   And I’m realizing that my ability to fix things is limited.  I need someone who understands the darkness – and the light. 

Daniel needed the same thing.  He asked God for the light to be turned on in a particular situation where things seemed pretty dark.  And God came through.  Here’s what he had to say afterwards: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever…He reveals the deep and secret things.  He knows what is in the darkness and light dwells with Him”. (Daniel 2:20, 22)

I may need an electrician for my hallway light.  But I know exactly who can make sense out of the things in my life that I can’t figure out on my own.  God may not turn on the light the minute I ask for it, but I know He’ll walk me through the darkness until He’s ready flip the switch. 

There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets.  Daniel 2:28

He uncovers the deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light.  Job 12:22

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.  Psalm 25:14

“Can anyone hide himself in the secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord.  “Do I not fill heaven and earth?”  Jeremiah 23:24.

 

Pray

I got out one of my favorite books on prayer the other day.  It’s been a while since it’s been off the shelf, but I knew exactly where to find it when I found myself wondering (once again) about the subject.  It’s titled, “Don’t Just Stand There – Pray Something” by Ronald Dunn. 

Dunn had a way of bringing scriptural truths to light while at the same time making you smile with his wit.  In the chapter titled, “How God Answers Prayer”, he relayed this story:

One Friday afternoon when I was in college, a friend and I decided to drive home for the weekend.  We piled into my ’46 Ford and, both of us being ministerial students, I asked my friend to pray for a safe trip.  I bowed my head, closed my eyes and heard him say, “Dear Lord, we pray that You will protect us and grant us traveling mercies – unless we can glorify Thee better on a hospital bed.”

That was the last time I asked him to pray about anything.  Still, in a crazy kind of way, my friend was right.  Whatever we pray for, it is a given that the glory of God takes precedence.  Sometimes God withholds the lesser in order to give the greater, and it may be that He cannot give me what I ask without compromising His own plan.  So we must pray as Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done”  (Luke 22:24).

What a great reminder.  It’s not about my will and my plans.  It’s about God’s will and God’s plans…and most importantly, His glory.

(from Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something – the Incredible Power of Intercessory Prayer by Ronald Dunn, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992)

 

 

Shhhhhhh….

“A quiet heart means confidence in God”.

A simple statement and a powerful truth from Elisabeth Elliot.  I recently found an old audio recording of Elisabeth and heard her talk about the significance of the state of our hearts.

If my heart is all frantic and questioning and unsettled, it doesn’t say much for my confidence in God.  It doesn’t say much about my belief in His ability to provide and protect.  It doesn’t say much about my belief in His sovereignty or His promises.

She tells the story of how as a college student in Illinois back in 1948, she penned these words:

Lord, give to me a quiet heart

That does not seek to understand.

But confident steps forward in

The darkness guided by Thy hand.

If you know any of Elisabeth Elliot’s story, you know the incredible loss she faced just a few years later after the violent death of her husband Jim at the hands of Indian tribes in Ecuador.  When she wrote this poem, she had no way of knowing what she was going to be asked to go through.  But did the truth of it change?  No.

Is it really possible be OK with not understanding?  Is it really possible to confidently step forward into the darkness?  When things are crazy and scary and make no sense, can I really keep a quiet heart?  Not if I’m trying to do it on my own.  But with that guiding hand from God and with the peace that only He can give…I can.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

 

Seasons

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

 

And so, the Summer of 2010 is over.  Oh, I know it really doesn’t happen officially until September 21st, but we all know that Labor Day marks the end of the summer mindset.  I wrote back in June about being at the beginning of the summer and wondering what it would hold.  And here we are in September. 

September! 

I wonder why God created seasons.  While some of us live in parts of the country that aren’t about to break into beautiful Fall colors and exhilarating temperature changes (sigh), we’ll start to see some things change.  (Hopefully!  It was the hottest summer EVER recorded in South Florida.)  God could have created a world where everything was the same all the time.  But He didn’t.  He made seasons.  And I think Thomas Chisholm nailed it when he penned the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

God gave us seasons so that we could see His faithfulness in all circumstances – in the laid-back vacation minded days of Summer, in the back-to-school and back-to-routine days of Fall, in the bleak and gray days of Winter and in the optimistic new birth days of Spring. We see His faithfulness on hot, sunny, bright days and dark, cloudy, stormy days as well.

And so, with confidence we may indeed join with all nature in manifold witness, to His great faithfulness, mercy and love – in every season of our lives.

 

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season.               Psalm 104:27

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Galatians 6:9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17