Rainy Days and (Mondays)

IMG_0421.jpg Days and Mondays

Yes, it was a Monday. It is now a Tuesday. I have many things to do, but there are times getting up on any day is an exercise of sheer fortitude.  It really does take a lot of nerve to get up another day and face assailing storms of life.

Most days, we are not being assailed by anything more than shifting thunderstorms:  a critique, a job review, a misunderstanding between co-workers or family members or even friends, an unpleasant meeting, inconvenient and trivial workloads.

But some days we are hit with hurricane force:  loss, soul-killing memories, buried but penetrating shame, impending or recent death, betrayal, our own sin come to fruit, bitterness, sudden and life-changing disability, crushing hatred that burns inside like an acid, paralyzing fear of the unknown as well as the known.

Each time I read Vav, I get a new sense of who this writer was, and what he must have been going through.  Like rays of sunlight piercing the gloom, the psalm picks up reflections from our own hearts and experience.

Today, I think of him desperately realizing his weakness.  He’s lost that nerve to get up from his bed.  I think of him lying before the sun’s rays have turned the black of night to navy blue.  He’s staring at the ceiling but seeing only darkness.  He’s going to get up soon, and he has enough left in him to realize that; but oh, he longs for the Lord to restore him!

I lie in bed and know that if the Lord go not with me, I shall be completely undone. I’m so tired of failing. “God help me!”

Have you ever wondered what difference Christ makes?  I have.  I have wanted to know with all my heart so I can help another to see and know the hope that I have had now for most all of my life.  So much of what I have experienced with Christ is such a part of the fabric of my life now that it is easy for me to move on and forget how it all was woven in the first place.  What exactly happens at salvation that made getting up a do-able thing? 

I visited a church recently where one of the pastors gave hope using the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. She had an experience in life where she trusted Christ’s grace and that made all the difference from then on.  It changed her life!  But she never told us how.

It was an oversight.  But if I don’t know how it all works, how will I get up to face a hostile world?  I’ve been a committed Christian for over 50 years and I still need to replay the grounding of my faith.  Why? Because it brings me to worship God in joy, and I love that feeling of thankfulness.

Think about it, don’t you enjoy feeling thankful?  I mean, when you’re thankful, it means something very, very good has happened in your life that you know you don’t deserve. That’s a good feeling.  It’s called GRACE.

IMG_0420.jpgGod’s Design and My Sin

So the first thing then, in revisiting that grounding is to discover again where I was in life that I am so undeserving of that kindness.  This brings me to that monolith I cannot hurdle:  the LAW of God.  I broke the law of the universe: Obey your Creator.

My own heart and mind indicts me in this.  I feel the guilt.  I know when I have ripped someone off in some way, when I have hated in my heart, when I have lusted for something or someone that is not rightfully mine, when I have heard or known a call to be sacrificial in my love and have rejected that and did what I wanted to regardless of the cost…. anyway. The law of God is written on our hearts.

God’s Word tells us the reason why we feel bad when we take the last cookie from the cookie jar and then try to hide the fact.  Genesis 2-3 explains that God created us according to a good and perfect design and purpose. He gave choice, and we chose another voice than the voice of our loving Lord.

The end of that choice, as was known from the beginning, was death. By separating ourselves from the Source and Giver of Life (as betrayal always does), we doomed ourselves to death in both soul and body.

God’s Plan for Reconciliation

But God was not shocked or surprised!  God already had a plan; for to give choice also means to understand the implications of a possible wrong decision. God planned his love of me:  He “so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Sinless Jesus accomplished what we could not:  he paid the death price for our guilt and shame. Sacrificial love poured out for me. I am not condemned, I am forgiven–the death debt is paid.

Thankful yet?  If not, then you’re not alone.  Abstractions are sometimes hard to take in concretely.  And a past offering of “life for life” is abstract to us now. Unless we bring that act into the present day.  Have I gotten what I deserve?

The psalmist of Vav is asking for God’s mercy to come to him.  This is an Old Testament human being who knew his need and looked forward to the promise of a Savior to come.  He believed it as if it had already happened!

We now look back in time to the Person of Jesus Christ. At a fulcrum point in history, Christ came and accomplished the work of reconciling us with the Father!  But we do need him every day.  I need Christ to intersect my day today.  I need him badly.

So I am still praying Psalm 119:41 with its author!  Please come to me today, Lord Jesus, and bring me your salvation.  Show me again what Christ has done for me and how to gratefully love and serve my Savior.

Our salvation is not a past event.  While Christ died for our sins and paid the price to release us from the prison of death, He also rose again! Christ lives! We were rescued from death and reconciled to Life!!  We are no longer powerless against sin, we are “more than conquerors”…. but let Paul tell you about it (Romans 8:31-38, NIV[i]):

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That’s a reason to get up this morning! You see, today when I am assailed by critics (Vav, v. 42), I have an answer to give to myself, first:  “I am Christ’s! I am His beloved.”  I know who I am.  This helps me to move toward Christ to discover the guidance I need to face my troubles.

When I belong to a parent, I go to that parent for guidance.  If I belong to a union, I go to that union for guidance in my job.  I am Christ’s; therefore, I go to His Word through Bible study and prayer.  I go to the Body of Christ, which is His Church (fellow believers who are also learning from Christ) to find support and to discover truth about myself. I am not alone!

Power to Overcome

Through Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit, the Father gives me direction, but also power to obey what I am guided to do.  If I am to confess, then He gives me power to overcome my pride and confess.  If I am to forgive another, then He gives me power to do so.  If I am to admonish someone, God gives me the humility and boldness (together) to do so in love. If I am to stop an addiction, He gives me the grace (reconciled to God) and the power to say no and to get the practical help I need to be accountable along the way.  Where I am tempted, He offers a way of escape! And not only that, Christ, my Savior, is praying (interceding)[ii] for me before the Father!!

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A Future and a Hope

My Monday (and any other day of the week) may be filled with hard challenges that my pleasure-loving self does not want to encounter, but I have one more assurance to help me up.  I have a future!!

When Christ redeemed me, it was for a purpose.  He has a love-relationship in mind.  Though that was broken and is now mended through Christ, the restoration of His original design is still ahead.  The Father is not helping me just to “get me through each day” and then I die.  Heaven is not an ethereal “end” to life as I have now found it!  I will not only live forever; my original design will be restored and I will rule with Him forever!

But I have been and am being changed in an important way.  I am being transformed from a sinful, selfish person to a soul that looks and sounds and acts like Christ!  When I am to rule with Christ, it will not be a heady, dominating or self-centered rule.  I will be a co-ruler in the same manner as Christ already is!  We read Revelation and are so happy to learn that there will be no more sorrow, nor suffering or pain or tears or death, for all those things will be swept away!  But life will go on and there will be dominion just as God intended it to be in the beginning.  I think I personally prefer “cultivation”.

Who I am in Christ matters!

So when I get up in the morning, God’s Word reminds me of who I am in Christ, what He has done for me in grace, what power I have in Christ to overcome the challenges that face me this day. Serving and bringing honor to the God of my Life is the reason for the life that I live.  All my days and my eternity are laser-focused on bringing glory to my heavenly Father. That begins with my placement of my feet on the floor, praising as I move to shower and brush my teeth. Asking intercession as I read His Word and think of the needs that surround me in people and circumstance. Feeling His Presence and blessing as I thank Him for all that He has done and will do even as I head to work or make those phone calls.

Have you suffered loss? Are you afraid?  Have you lost your hope and energy to keep on?  Look at Vav to discover some helpful verbs that illustrate a godly response to this morning:

  • I trust in thy word….
  • I hope in thy judgements…
  • I shall keep thy law continually forever
  • I will walk freely….
  • I will seek out your guiding principles
  • I will speak out (tell others) all that you have commanded before the very power-players I once feared…
  • I love your commandments….
  • I will delight myself in your law….
  • I will praise you publicly with upraised hands concerning your law…
  • I will search out the meaning of your statutes and allow them to x-ray my hidden motives

Lord, I stand amazed in Your Presence.  I am encouraged by reading again how you have loved me and given yourself for my sake. Not only have you given yourself in exchange for my sin, but you are with me even today. I am admonished that I can live any part of the day and not remember these truths. My conversation lacks your mercy and grace. I am blind to the wonder of life that Your grace opens up for me.  My actions are so very small in comparison to the thanks and self-giving that should be my response. Give me life that I may live! “Why should I be discouraged? Why do the shadows fall? Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, when You, O LORD, are my life’s inheritance–You are now my constant friend!  For Your eye is on the smallest of sparrows, and I know You have saved and always watch over me!”  Help me to remember who I am because of Christ–I am your royal, precious child. I am yours, and You are mine! Give me vision to see You in my day today, to see You in my circumstances as you shape them to transform me to be like You. Give me vision to see You in the others with whom I will interact today–help me to love them, friend and enemy alike, as you love them. Help me to know, understand, and obey your commands. Make me a blessing today, Lord, and rest me in Your peaceful embrace as the sun sets on a day lived for Your Glory.  In the Name of my Heavenly Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

© 2018 by http://www.readpsalm119.com

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Footnotes:

[i]BibleGateway.com

[ii]intercede, intercession, interceding – (inter‘between’ + cedere ‘go’).  Christ “goes between” a  holy God and sinful man to speak for us for mercy and grace.  While our debt is paid, we still have “remaining sin” to deal with as we who are broken by sin continue to walk in a world that is broken by sin, both the created world and the broken people in it. We are moving toward all that God has in store for us that is good, because of Christ; yet we still sin. The difference is that we are not alone, we have a Helper, a Comforter, an Admonisher and Teacher to help us walk through this temporal world, overcoming the power of sin and being transformed more and more into His likeness until we our transformation is fulfilled as we enter His presence in eternity.  I am still a sinner, but I am not what I was last week and definitely not what I was 10 years ago!  I am growing toward Christ because through His intercession for me, I am constantly connected to the Father at all times.  I am not separated from my heavenly Father, but Christ’s prayers for me connect me to Him in love, guidance and protection.  Praise the Lord! He never lets go of my hand!

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FURTHER RESOURCES:

“What is the Holy Spirit & What Does He Do for Believers?”, Brittany Rust, Crosswalk.com

His Eye is On the Sparrow, sung by Sylvia Burnside, No Need To Fear CD, New Irish Arts.  (YouTube.com).  This song was first sung by the late Ethel Waters, and later by Larnelle Harris  (From a Servant’s Heart, album, 1986 Benson Records).  How could it ever be sung better than them, unless it would be sung by Mahalia Jackson. But Sylvia brings a new quality to the song that is worth hearing. I encourage everyone to purchase this entire cd of Sylvia’s as her song choices and their words of Truth bring much needed daily healing.  Please let the words of this particular song lift your spirits today and make you “sing because I’m happy….and free!”

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Ann Voskamp (annvoskamp.com) challenged us to make and keep up a JOURNAL OF GRATITUDE, completing 1000 “gifts of thanks” entries to the Lord.  I haven’t read her books, but followed her for a while on her “Holy Experience” website (now the eponymous link).  I created one for myself and each of my still-at-home children while I was homeschooling.  What a blessing it was to fill each day’s entries!  We developed eyes to see God at work all around us each morning.  Yes, like all good things, writing in a journal fell off as we got busy and the kids got older.  But the spiritual discipline of “seeing” reasons for gratitude does not fade. Look for photos of my copy in the GALLERY tab on http://www.readpsalm119.com in the coming days.  I made mine on the computer and printed/bound it, and will show you how, but yours can be a regular spiral-bound notebook!  What a way to start the day!

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Blank pages of the One Thousand Graces Gratitude Journal

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