Dig

I’m going on a dig this summer.

It’s not an archeological dig, where I sift through dirt and rocks and soil for relics or arrowheads or dinosaur bones.  It’s a theological one, where I sift through verses and passages and books for spiritual truths and treasures.

I’ve decided that I don’t want to just take for granted what I’ve come to believe.  I don’t want to simply accept something because someone important or influential says I should.  I want to know what God says and what God wants me to see.

I’ll need His help.  I’ll need Him to shine a light on the dark things, the things that are difficult to see. Then I’ll need Him to open my eyes so that I can understand the things I find.

I’m not sure there will be any major surprises or developments.  It may be that I’ll find what I knew was there all along. 

But the only way I’ll know is to dig.  For myself.

I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.  Psalm 77:6

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.  Proverbs 2:4-5

Search from the book of the LORD, and read; Isaiah 34:16

And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; Ecclesiastes 1:13

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.    Luke 24:45

…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints;     Ephesians 1:18

Escape

Have you ever wanted to just…escape?

I have.  Lots of times.  I’ve wanted to escape…run…hide…leave…delay…avoid.

One morning on my way into work, I actually seriously considered what it would be like to keep driving and turn towards the Interstate instead of staying straight on the road into downtown.   I didn’t do it.  I went to work like I do every other day.  And of course in hindsight, whatever it was I wanted to escape from or avoid was probably not all that bad.  It appears I survived.

But those thoughts creep into our minds every once in a while when life becomes difficult.  We think it would be so much better to just get away from it all instead of having to face the problem or the person or the circumstance or the challenge.

Seems we’re not alone.  Even King David – you know, the one who as a boy faced down a certain giant with only a sling and some stones – said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.  Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.  I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” (Psalm 55:6-8)

Wings would come in handy sometimes.

But God didn’t make us with wings, so I’m thinking that He created us for something other than flying away.  I’m thinking that He created us to face down the giants instead of looking for the escape route. 

So the next time the temptation to run away starts stirring in my heart, I’ll stay put and face whatever it is I need to face. 

And I know I won’t be alone.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.   Deuteronomy 13:6

Fear not,  for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  Psalm 139:7

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

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”            Genesis 16:13

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:13

Found

I’m thinking it could have been one of the “lost” parables. Right behind the one about the shepherd with the lost sheep, the woman with the lost coin and the father with the lost son.

And He spoke a parable unto them, saying, “and what woman, when she has lost her Canon PowerShot camera, does not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”

OK, maybe I’m stretching it a bit.  But the camera had been missing for months.  And my apartment is not that big.  Much searching.  High, low, in, around, behind.   I finally resigned myself to the fact that it was lost forever.  Sad.

That’s probably why God couldn’t have included it in the parables.  Those parables are about sticking with a search until you find whatever you’re looking for.  

And I had given up the search.

So one morning last week I was looking for a tote bag to haul some stuff to work and found the one I usually take to the beach.  It’s summery orange and pink and yellow plaid canvas.  When I picked it up, it seemed a little heavy when all that was inside was a plastic fork and some sand.   Apparently that lovely summer plaid successfully camouflaged a hidden pocket on the side of the bag.

And there it was.  The missing camera.

I love finding lost things.  Especially when it’s something that’s been gone for a while.  That’s why I like those “lost” parables.  I love that the Shepherd looks for and finds the lamb that wandered too far from home.  I love that the father runs to welcome the son who did some wandering of his own.

I love that God doesn’t give up a search.  I love that He keeps looking for the lost ones so He can bring them home.  And in the same way He knew where my camera was all along, He knows where His lost sheep and prodigal children are.

And for the ones I’m praying for, that’s quite a comforting thing to know.

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  Luke 15:4

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds ? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’  Luke 15:8

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  Luke 15:10

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11

I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; Ezekiel 34:16

 

Omniscient

There’s a funeral home across the street from my office.  And there is a mango tree in the lot next door to my office.

And this morning, it seemed weird.

It seemed weird to walk outside to stretch my legs and pick up juicy, ripe mangoes off the grass, while the parking lot of the funeral home was filled with cars, and serious-looking men in sunglasses and dark suits were waiting by the long vehicles with orange funeral flags attached to the hoods.

Someone had died.  And I was picking up free fruit off the ground during my break.

And all I could think was that I am glad that God can juggle so many things at once.  I am glad that He is all-seeing and all-knowing and that while I’m oblivious to what’s happening in a flower-filled room across the street, He’s totally aware of every need and every heart. 

And I thought about the fact that on the days when I need Him, on the days when my heart is breaking and mangoes are the last thing on my mind, He’s not tied up with some other problem.  He knows my need and my heart.

I didn’t expect a lesson on one of God’s attributes under the mango tree this morning. 

But He knew I needed it.  Imagine that.

 

You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.   Psalm 139:2-3

Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?  Job 31:4

For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. Job 34:21

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3

For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face.    Jeremiah 16:17

Strength

For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved;  in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15

Would we be strengthened to do what is required of us and to bear what is laid upon us? It must be in quietness and in confidence; we must keep our spirits calm and sedate by a continual dependence upon God, and his power and goodness; we must retire into ourselves with a holy quietness, suppressing all turbulent and tumultuous passions, and keeping the peace in our own minds. And we must rely upon God with a holy confidence that he can do what he will and will do what is best for his people. And this will be our strength; it will inspire us with such a holy fortitude as will carry us with ease and courage through all the difficulties we may meet with.  

Matthew Henry on Isaiah 30:15

Actually, Isaiah 30:15 doesn’t end where I stopped it when I copied it above.  That’s the part of the verse most of us are familiar with. It goes on to say, “But you would not,” and the next few verses tell the story of what happens when we do not allow God to provide us with strength through our quiet confidence in Him.

Not good.

May it never be said of me, “But Sharon would not…”.  In quietness and confidence SHALL be my strength.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.  Jeremiah 17:7

God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?    Job 9:4

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17