Thursday, September 22, 2016

solitude and silence

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” ~Mark 6:31


Solitude and silence are a beautiful invitation from God.  They are an invitation to stop, to cease striving, to rest, and to breathe.  They are an invitation to be renewed and restored.  In a world where we are constantly on the go, living in a constant exhale, solitude and silence provide an opportunity to inhale.  They allow the life-giving Spirit of God the space and the time to blow his fresh wind into our parched and weary souls. Thus, solitude and silence are essential for both our spiritual and our physical well-being.  They offer us an invitation to come to him, to release our burdens, and to enjoy his presence, his peace, and his rest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

nain

     Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
     Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
     They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)



Where is God when we are in pain?  It is an age-old question.  One that, depending on how we answer it, can significantly impact our view of, and our relationship with, God.  Because when we are in pain our tendency is to think that God either does not care, or that he is not good.  Either he does care enough to do anything about our suffering, or he can’t do anything about it.  Or maybe, even worse, he won’t do anything about it.  All of which leave us either angry and frustrated, or anxious and insecure.

Then along comes Jesus, the one who was sent to reveal to us the heart of the Father.  Jesus, since he is God in the flesh, shows us exactly how God feels about our pain.  And not only that, he also shows us how God longs to redeem that pain, in his own time and in his own way.

On this occasion Jesus comes across a woman who has just lost her only son; and that after she had already lost her husband.  Can you imagine the grief and the sadness and the pain?  Maybe you can.  Maybe you have been there.  Maybe you are there.  Life has dealt her two crushing blows back-to-back, and she is left reeling.  “Where in the world is God?” she must be thinking in the midst of the chaos, “Doesn’t he even care?”

Enter Jesus.  And when Jesus sees her, immediately his heart goes out to her (NIV).  He is heartbroken (The Message).  His heart overflows with compassion (NLT).  He is moved with love and compassion for her from the very depths of his being.  That is how God feels about her pain.  That is how God feels about your pain.  He is brokenhearted.  Her broken life is not at all the way he intended it to be.  But, even still, in the midst of her grief, God is able to redeem her pain.

Jesus stops the procession, approaches the coffin, places his hand on it, and calls the young man back to life.  The young man sits up and begins to speak.  Then Jesus gives the young man back to his mother.  God redeems her pain.  God brings life out of death, just the way he always does.  Tears turn to laughter, sadness to joy, mourning to dancing.  And that is the way it will be for your pain as well.  Maybe not today, but someday.  Someday your pain will be redeemed.  Someday your sorrow will be turned to joy.  Someday Jesus will tenderly touch your face and wipe every tear from your eyes.  And sorrow and sadness will be no more.

And they were all filled with awe and praised God (NIV), the Scriptures tell us.  "God has come to help his people," they said. In fact, he has turned his face towards his people (JBP).  God is not distant.  He is not disinterested.  He is not uncaring.  He is not far off.  He is right here, right in the midst of our pain.

Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?  The only honest answer to that question is that I have absolutely no idea.  How does God feel about that pain and suffering, and where is he in the midst of it?  The answer to those two questions is a little more clear, all because of Jesus.  God is heartbroken over our pain.  And he is right in the middle of it.  That’s why he came to earth in the first place; to both share our suffering and to bear our suffering, that one day it might all be redeemed, just like it was in Nain.    

Friday, September 2, 2016

poiema


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:10


How does it make you feel to know that God sees you as his workmanship, his masterpiece?  The Greek word used here is poiÄ“ma.  Thus, we are God’s poem, his work of art, an expression of his divine love, care, and creativity.  We are something so wonderful and so unique that mere prose is not adequate enough to communicate it.  Only poetry can even begin to capture the awesome wonder of what he did when he breathed you into being.  You were made in order to reflect and express the beauty and the goodness of his character to the world in a way no one else can or will.  What a high and holy calling.