Wrestling

I’ve been wrestling lately.

No, no. Not THAT kind of wrestling. You won’t find me in ill-fitting spandex or strange headgear. It’s the kind of wrestling that happens in my head and in my heart.

And I think it’s been good for me, in spite of how frustrated I get sometimes.

I’ve been wrestling with some theological issues. Nothing of the “non-negotiable” variety, but ones where good theologians appear to come down on completely different sides of the fences. And where others might just shrug their shoulders and not get all worked up over them, for some reason God is drawing me to wrestle with them myself.

It’s hard work. I wonder, “Who am I to question these great scholars?”. But when I start thinking that way, I remember that I am just as worthy to search the scriptures as they are. It’s my Father’s book, after all. I am grateful for diligent men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Bible and who have spent years, decades even, making their work accessible to us common-folk.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to study things for myself. It doesn’t mean that I am to accept their conclusions without checking them against the Bible on my own.

And God invites us to do that. He wants us to be like the Bereans, receiving the Word from those who preach and teach it, but searching the scriptures daily to test them for ourselves:

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Acts 17:11

So I’ll keep searching and wrestling. And though I don’t know where I’ll end up, I know God will use it in my life.

Wrestling can be good for the heart, and the soul.

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, Proverbs 1:5

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
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 2:1-5

Daybreak

The sunrises have been particularly spectacular around here the past few weeks. This was the view walking to my office yesterday morning:

morning

I love mornings. A new day with new opportunites and new chances to see what God will do. I found this poem recently, set to music as a hymn. Maybe someday I’ll learn the music to it, but this morning, the words were enough.

I am with Thee…

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than the morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.

Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.

Still, still with Thee! As to each newborn morning
A fresh and solemn splendor still is giv’n,
So does this blessed consciousness, awaking,
Breathe each day nearness unto Thee and heav’n.

When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose beneath Thy wings o’ershading,
But sweeter still, to wake and find Thee there.

So shall it be at last in that bright morning,
When the soul waketh and the shadows flee;
O in that hour, fairer than the daylight dawning,
Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee.

by Harriet B. Stowe
Hymn, “Still, Still With Thee”

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails… Zephaniah 3:5

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. Psalm 3:5

Resilient

As I sat on my living room floor on Sunday afternoon sorting through a box of old journals, letters and cards, I realized that I was OK.

I didn’t go looking for that affirmation, and the thought hadn’t occurred to me that I wasn’t OK. I thought it was just going to be an afternoon of pitching ridiculous stuff I had saved way too long. But as I took an unexpected walk down memory lane, it occurred to me that things that should have derailed me or made me want to jump off the cliff of hopelessness hadn’t done that at all.

God had made me resilient.

And sometimes you don’t know that you’ve been resilient until you can look back over your shoulder at the challenges and the darker episodes in your life and see where you were and where you are now. And if you put it in a spiritual perspective instead of patting yourself on the back for how stoic you are, you know that it was God’s work, not your own.

Years from now there may be another box I’ll need to go through or another old journal to read, reminders of the things going on in my life right now. And I hope that spiritual resilience will have characterized those years in between, too.

Resilience doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles and questions and regrets and discouragements along the way. It simply means I’ve gotten better at recognizing them as opportunities to trust God.

And that only comes with being given the chances to do…just that.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2

October

I’m privately celebrating today.

I love to turn the calendar page to October. Here in my part of the world it signals the beginning of Fall, though I know it “officially” became Fall a few weeks ago. It’s the beginning of the last quarter of the year. And while it’s still pretty hot where I live, the shadows are starting to get longer and the days are just a tiny bit shorter.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I know August and September are behind me. It’s the busiest time of the year for me as the new school season starts and students return to campus and classes. By the time October comes, it seems we’ve gotten into our routines.

Something about October makes me relax. It also makes me yearn for “home” in New Jersey, where I know the leaves are turning on the trees and it’s just cool enough to make me happy. So thankful to have spent this past weekend there with my family – all 13 of us were together for a day of picnicking and fun.

I’m grateful for seasons. Grateful that God has given us different cycles of circumstance and weather. As the past season is now a memory, I’m looking forward to the new one. Looking forward to what God has planned for me, for my family, for people I care for.

Lord, thank you for Your designs. Thank you for the way you order the earth and order our lives. We don’t know what the new season will bring, but You do. Help us to trust You through each of its days.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years”. Genesis 1:14

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

The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:16-17