Maybe you’re familiar with that old hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” I’ve sung it many times, but I’ve not always applied it in my daily life. For example, have you ever let guilt get in between you and God? I have. Or maybe someone has hurt you badly. You’re wounded and you can’t let it go. I’ve experienced those feelings too. Matthew 12:20, NRSV: “He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory.” Sometimes we can feel we are that bruised reed or smoldering wick. Whether good or evil has happened, whether our fault or the fault of others, we can have faith. God is our redeemer. No matter how the day looks, may the wholeness and fullness of his restoring peace be with you always. Shalom!
You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Jack of all trades; master of none.” That’s how I feel when it comes to languages. I had to study several languages back in my academic years, including French, German and Hebrew (Hebrew is really hard!), yet I’m master of none. I’ve studied Spanish for years and I’m no closer to being fluent than ever. I’m once again taking a Spanish course online from our local college. Hola! Como estas! I’ve done it before traveling to a Spanish-speaking country, but this time I’m just refreshing my memory. Yes, I know it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get fluent when not staying in a Spanish-speaking country, but I’m trying—again. Here in Texas, a lot of people speak Spanish, but they’re all trying to learn English! I admire them, because even with my struggles in Spanish, I believe English is harder to learn. So I keep speaking English to them. Oh well, it’s not as if I’m going traveling anywhere anyway.
From the beginning, he knew who would betray him. When he chose all 12 of his disciples, he knew Judas would hand him over to his enemies and Peter would deny him three times and when the going got rough, all of them would desert him and run for their lives. Yet he chose these 12 men to be his closest companions and beloved friends. He put up with their squabbles and their intolerance and other clueless behaviors for more than three years and loved them anyway. That understanding gives me so much comfort and hope. I make mistakes. He forgives and loves me anyway. I say things I regret. He forgives and loves me anyway. I’m old and not active in his service as in years past. He doesn’t care and loves me anyway. What kind of man is this! His name is Jesus! How can I thank him—go and do the same, love them anyway.
I heard him before I saw him, croaking out a warning to a flock of crows. He sat on the top of the spillway, craned forward, focused on the water below. I say him—or her—a blue heron waiting for an unlucky fish. As I walked on the trail below the dam, he paid no attention to me. He had breakfast on his mind. So did I. The morning was so pleasant I decided to take a walk before breakfast. It made me compare what I had to do for my food with what the heron had to do. During this epidemic, before I drive the 10 miles to town, I inventory my pantry and refrigerator and order groceries online. The cost is automatically deducted from my credit card. At the store my groceries are put in the back of my car. Then I drive home, unload my groceries and prepare my food. By this time, the heron has probably filled his belly with fresh fish and gone on about his business. But it reminded me that no matter how we creatures are fed, one thing remains the same, we all look to God for our sustenance.
I have a lot of favorite scriptures, but right up at the top of the list is John 1:1. I’m sure you know it: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” How wonderful to know Jesus is both God and our Creator. Our loving and caring Savior has always been there for us, from the beginning, and even before, for eternity. This scripture helps me better understand the nature of God. I’ve read a lot of different ways to describe God, but one author used the analogy of writing a story. God the Father has the story idea. God the Son, the Word, writes the story, and God the Holy Spirit communicates the story. No analogy is perfect, but as a writer that speaks to me. When we live out and share the gospel, we are participating with God in the most amazing story ever told!
Why do we read the Bible? That may seem like a strange question. Aren’t we supposed to read our Bibles? But why? Is it to try to understand God’s will? Is it to more deeply understand God’s nature? Is it for inspiration? We all have our reasons. In our Zoom church services we took a passage, Mark 10:46-52, read it several times and then shared what we got out of that particular scripture. We noted the man’s persistence in spite of the crowd telling him to keep quiet. We thought it a little odd Jesus asked a blind beggar what he wanted. Of course, when Jesus said the man’s faith healed him, that brought up deeper theological questions about faith and healing. But one person responded a different way to what he read. He saw himself as the blind man and wondered what he would have done under that kind of peer pressure. Would he have been as bold with everyone telling him to hush up? Would he have had the faith Jesus saw in blind Bartimaeus? It made me wish I had thought of that.
They moved into the house at the end of the road last year, a family with three children. Early in the morning I see their son Jack skating up and down their long driveway chasing a puck with a hockey stick. Up and down he goes, rarely falling, and quickly getting up when he does. Their mom homeschools, so I see him quite often from my kitchen window. Back and forth, up and down the driveway, over and over, that’s how future athletes are made. Bumps and bruises are just part of the game. He’s creating the muscles and coordination now that will carry him to his goal in sports. At my age I could use some of that motivation. It’s not as if my goals are Olympic-sized, but before setting any, I should count the cost, and be willing to pay the price!
Do you remember the ’70s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar? I saw a TV version not long ago. Though the story line is iffy theologically, I love the music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, especially, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, but how do we do that? When I tell God I love him, what kind of love is that? Is it need-love only? I love God because he gives me what I need? If that’s the case, I can’t call myself a mature Christian. Love can be shown by giving gifts or offerings, but God already has everything. Through worship? But he doesn’t need our worship either. God doesn’t need anything; he is all give, all outgoing in his love for us. All he wants is a relationship with his children, you and me. But, there is something we do have to give up at times. We have to give back to him something he gave us that we prize most highly—our will. Thankfully, our Savior led the way: “Lord, not my will, but yours.”
A friend questioned some of my comments in “God’s Will—Really?” So, if she has questions, I’m sure others do too. No, I don’t believe everything that happens is by default, God’s will. When I prayed for people in the path of hurricane Sally, I realized God rarely interferes with the natural laws he has set in motion. If he answered every one of our prayers individually to interfere with natural laws, this planet would be in chaos. I prayed anyway. (I have precedent. Jesus calmed a storm.) When my loved ones are ill, it may be a consequence of accidents or of environmental pollution or of their own unwise choices, and they may have to suffer through, but I pray anyway. (Again, I have precedent. Jesus is a healer and a forgiver of sins.) I don’t believe God is an absentee parent or a so-called helicopter parent, but he’s always available to each of us. I may be somewhat of a mystic in the sense I believe God communicates with me personally, but I believe he does. I’m not special in this. I believe he will personally and individually speak to anyone who desires and seeks that kind of relationship with him. I hope I’m being childlike and not childish in my beliefs. Thank you, dear friend. I hope this helped answer yours and any other’s questions.
Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I enjoy reading the comics in the newspaper. Some of my favorites have puns, which I enjoy. Some aren’t that funny, but I read them anyway. And others poke fun at our human foibles, making me cringe and think. One of those showed a friend calling another to see what he was reading. The friend replied that yes, he was planning to read, but now that his phone was in his hand, he was going to “check social media and slip into a doom spiral.” Yikes! Yes, that happens to me! When I get a message alert, it’s hard not to also check emails or Facebook or whatever. I rarely check Twitter because that can quickly put me into a “doom spiral.” Right now my phone is my link to the outside world, but for my physical, mental and spiritual health, I must set limits. Our world is going kind of crazy right now!