Call

It started out as an annoying drip before I left for Thankgiving.  But last night my kitchen faucet decided it had a mind of its own and a defiant stream of water poured out no matter how hard I turned the “off” knobs.

So I did what I knew to do.  I called Dad.  In New Jersey.  1200 miles away.

Dad knows about these things.  I knew he’d be able to tell me what to do, how to manage the problem, how to fix it.   And now, because of that call, my kitchen is quiet and drip-free.

I called my father because I needed guidance.  I didn’t think twice about it.  Just picked up the phone and called.  And I should be just as quick to think of calling my heavenly Father when I need guidance.  I know He’ll tell me what to do and how to manage the problems of life.

God tells us over and over in scripture to call Him.  No busy signal, no dropped calls.  He tells us to call Him because He has promised He’ll respond and have the answers we need.  He wants to hear about our problems.  He knows there are things we can’t fix ourselves.

There are things in life that are a whole lot more complicated than a dripping faucet.  And I know just Who to call.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.               Jeremiah 29:12

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.        Psalm 50:15

It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.  Isaiah 65:24

Thanksgiving

David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and he said: Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.

I Chronicles 29:10-13

Exposed

None of us like to be exposed.   It’s our natural tendency to hold a little back, to not let anyone see all of the “real” us, to manipulate what we reveal to others in order to show our best side. 

We may be able to get away with that in our everyday lives.  But not with God.

“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul”.  Psalm 25:1

That’s the first verse of a Psalm I’ve come back to again and again when I need God’s guidance and direction.  But somehow, I’ve never stopped to really think about what it means.  It sounds all lofty and nice and “Here I am, Lord”.  I know I’ve said it and sung it, but today I realized something.

 It means I’m exposed. 

“Soul is not life in the abstract.  Soul is personal existence.  It is the life or self of an individual as marked by vital drives and desires.  It is the seat of emotion and will.  It is emphasized by that unique, personal and individual self. It means life as it is uniquely experienced by personal beings.”

(Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

In other words, when I lift my soul, I lift…..me.  All of me.  My thoughts, my desires, my will.  I expose myself.

And I need to do that before I come to God with my questions and my requests, and even my praise.  God wants to see that I’m not trying to hold anything back.

It’s the first verse of Psalm 25.  But I need to make it the first verse of my life.

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

Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.  Lamentations 3:41

Search me, O God, and see if there is any wicked way in me.  Psalm 139:24

Examine me, O Lord and prove me.  Try my mind and my heart.  Psalm 26:2

Dad

I’ve never had a guest blogger before!  I thought you’d enjoy hearing something from my Dad – his perspective on the last 5 weeks following his stroke.  He wrote this for his ministry* newsletter, but I thought I’d borrow it for this blog.  Lessons learned in the waiting…

On Tuesday, the early afternoon sun streamed into Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ where I was concluding three weeks of intensive therapy to recover from the stroke. I wheeled myself toward what I thought was the sun-drenched courtyard only to find the November sun had just left my intended spot.

In its place, the most beautiful music was coming from a piano strategically placed in a pleasant eating area. A fellow patient was playing old secular tunes, and I parked my wheelchair nearby to listen. Some mystical connection was made as I moved my hand in a gesture of approval. A subtle bond was established, and the man, who I later learned was a believer also named David, modulated into a hymn. “Amazing Grace” drifted through the rotunda.

It had been 32 days since I left our home in Towaco for a simple overnight at my son and daughter-in-law’s in Reading, PA and nearly that long without a mouthful of food or a sip of water. I had spent lonely nights listening to the moans of distressed and troubled roommates. I’d had feeding tubes in my nose and one inserted into my stomach. I had suffered complications in surgery and received blood transfusions. I’d had atrial fibrillation in the middle of the night and been saved by heroic medical efforts. A test showed that there would be a future hospital stay for bypass surgery.

But for those few magical moments, most all of the stress was eclipsed by “Amazing Grace.” As David moved into a second verse, I began quietly mouthing my praise. “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Thanks, friend. I needed that!

David then swung into “The Old Rugged Cross” and rounded out the hymn trilogy with “It Is Well.” The last chasm between human troubles and divine grace had been bridged. The old hymns had spoken the message of the blood, God’s grace and perpetual comfort. Thanks, Lord. I needed that!

And don’t we all, whether we are in sunlight or shadows.

Praise God for putting in hearts a new song that is really the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
Yours, still serving,

Dave Virkler

*my Dad is the Founder and Director of Dedication Evangelism, Inc. and hosts a weekly radio program called “The Word and The World”.  They are celebrating 50 years of ministry this year!  So proud of him – and so grateful that God’s plan for him here is not finished yet!   http://wordandtheworld.homestead.com/

Extra

So we gained an “extra” hour sometime Sunday morning.  I’ve always thought it was the strangest thing that in most parts of the USA we feel we have the right to manipulate the clock twice a year.  I find it annoying.  And my brother once said he was going to start a movement called “P.A.C.T” – People Against Changing Time.

But my personal feelings aside, this change in November is my favorite of the two.  We turn the clock back an hour.  I love the extra hour of sleep.  I love that it’s lighter earlier.  And strange as it sounds, I like that it gets darker earlier in the evening.  It makes me feel cozy.

We make a big deal about the “extra hour”.  But in reality, every hour we have is an “extra hour”.  Every hour is a gift, because God gives it to us.  He controls our every breath and our every heartbeat.   And in His sovereignty, He could decide at any time that our hours here on earth are done.

I need to make the most of every hour I’m given, not just the “extra” one we get in November.  There are things God wants me to do with the hours He gives me, and I don’t want to get to the end of my hours and look back in regret, seeing how many I let slip by without doing what I was supposed to do.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.          Psalm 90:12

We need to number our hours, too.  Especially the extra ones.

 

LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Psalm 39:4

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Ecclesiastes. 9:10

…redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16

 

 

Various

Consider it all joy when you fall into many-sided, changeable and variable trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”.        James 1:2-4

Most Bible versions use the word “various” to describe the trials, but I decided to dig a little deeper into the definition to see what that really means. This verse is talking about trials that are all over the map.  Trials that don’t follow a pattern.  Trials that keep changing.

It’s difficult enough to face one big trial.  But when every time you turn around there’s a new one, or the one you’re in keeps changing, it’s even more of a challenge.  And yet, we’re told to be joyful.

Really?

My Dad’s recent stroke is a big trial.  But then there was the surgery complication, the previously unknown heart condition, and now just to add to the drama, a 5 day power outage at the family home in New Jersey due to a freak October snowstorm.

Many-sided, changeable and variable trials tempt us to sigh and whine and say, “What now?”.   But I think James is telling us instead to smile, look up and confidently say “What now, Lord?  What do you want to show us now?”   

We’re learning  as a family that joy isn’t dependant on an easy road.  Joy comes from knowing that the difficult road of “various” trials leads to steadfastness and endurance and a place where we lack nothing.

We’re far from perfect.  But I know we’re on a road that will get us there.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven.          Luke 6:23

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.            Matthew 5:48

Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.  James 5:11