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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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holy spirit works

I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING….REALLY?

Morning
Morning
Around 7 AM this morning I set out to take Max and Emma for their first walk of the day. As they piddled around as they often do, sniffing every blade of grass as if that was the whole purpose of their walk, I stood still for a moment rather than rushing them along to get on with business.

Standing there observing the morning sky as wispy clouds blew across a magnificent pale blue dome, I whispered almost to myself, “I would give anything…” I stopped before completing the statement. The words intended were, “to capture that sky in paint, secure it to a canvas, sketch pad, or maybe to capture it in a photograph”. I stopped because as my husband has often pointed out, words often are prayers and my wistful expression needed examination before utterance.

Self examination serves to heighten personal awareness of thought patterns, motives, and actions. A step deeper is to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His spot light which reaches the corners and crannies better that self alone can do. What Would I Give Anything for?

Let me share some of the things I have said “I would give anything for…”

A cup of coffee
A soft bed
A decent meal
For the rain, or snow or wind or other weather condition to stop or start
For a bathroom
For a break…especially during a long meeting
To be able to sing
To be able to dance
A good medical report
For Christmas, especially as a child

I suspect you, like I reluctantly did, see a pattern, every single example I unearthed centered on SELF. Oh, I could spin them a bit and find some way of making them more altruistic, for example…”a cup of coffee, so I am kinder to others.” If it had just been me on this exploratory adventure, I possibly could have gotten away with some of that, but the Holy Spirit basically said, “Nah, its all about you.” He can be so stubborn about these character issues. He even suggested a few scriptures, pulled out God’s Word and highlighted it. One was:

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (‭Luke‬ ‭12‬:‭27-34‬ NIV)

Once that inventory was as complete as I cared for it to be (the list above is just a sampling), He nudged me to consider the word, ANYTHING. To consider that Jesus called his followers to “count the cost” of discipleship and to “take up their cross daily” and to turn from anything that kept them (me) from following him. And again, since I was obviously struggling yet again with these facts the Holy Spirit pulled out the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NIV)

After that I carried Him with me to church by then He was being pretty silent as I mulled over what I had on the plate before me. At Babson Park First Christian Church this morning we had missionary guests, Vivak and Angela Lall with Mid-India Christian Mission. During Sunday School he spoke about their mission, the victories, the challenges, the political situation in India. He was a very interesting articulate speaker.

BUT it was his message during the worship service that hit me full force, which I suspect is what the Holy Spirit had in mind. The whole message seemed to address the conversation I had been having with God all morning, but near the end he quoted someone else as saying,

“If there is nothing worth dying for then is there anything worth living for?”

Shall I live clinging to my life, my family, my home, my health, my finances, my stuff as if I can actually HOLD them. Shall I hunker down in my little bunker terrified that I might lose something precious?

Or shall I open my heart, my hands, my life, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Shall I Seek First the Kingdom of God and trust the ONE who has saved me to keep His promises?Shall I trust the ONE who has loved me to love the ones I love?

Shall I give everything so I can live as if nothing weighs me down or holds me back?

Shall I love with abandon as God has loved the world and given his one and only son?

Then there it was again plopped before me:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

I would give anything to become a good and faithful servant of Christ my Lord.

Call Off the Dogs! Psalm 22:19-28

As I have mentioned, my mind latches on an obscure phrase or single word and ZING! off I go.  There is so much in this obviously Messianic psalm that deserves attention, so why on earth did my mind go to the dogs.  All of a sudden I am trying to remember other mentions of dogs in scripture.  Well, in case you think I didn’t check, depending on the translation, there are around 40 times dogs are mentioned.  Sadly, the biblical mentions of dogs include no favorable comments, no furry pets of the canine family follow along after Jesus.  In fact, most uses of dogs equate them with degradation, executioners, and evil doers.  Sorry, Max and Emma.  

Max and Emma in Prayer
Max and Emma in Prayer

God’s Word does not deal with you kindly.

Ok, back to the meat of this Lectionary text which does not include the whole psalm, for some reason only the scholars or the lectionary committee–Whoever–understands.  Most of those really smart people agree that this is a Psalm of David, but right off, if you read the WHOLE psalm, It is clear no matter where David was in his life when he wrote this Psalm, God intended it as prophecy.  Consider the first verse: 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”

I know in my heart that when David wrote this psalm, he was expressing words given to him by the Holy Spirit.  As he sang it, with a chorus in the Tabernacle, did he sense in his inner being that his words transcended time and place.  Who knows, right?  Do any of us fully understand how the Holy Spirit works through our lives, our words, our presence?  This psalm presents a powerful word picture of crucifixion, a form of execution not used until the time of the Persian rule and was not popular until the time of Alexander the Great.  

While the first 21 verses reveal the anguish of the suffering Christ, the verses in the lectionary begin with verse 19 and it is in these words, the prayer of Jesus in the garden are in my opinion revealed.  In those moments, when he sweated blood, Hear his voice as in the ear of Father God:

“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.”  Don’t leave me alone, come quickly, deliver me, CALL OFF THE DOGS!  Worn out, prostrate on the ground, all of it poured out before the Father, Jesus is strengthened by angels, as he yields completely, “Not my will, but Yours.”

We know the story and the Psalm written by David expressed it more than a 1000 years before it happened.  The Psalm, however, moves from the suffering Christ to the victorious Christ, ending as a powerful chorus of praise and yes! prophecy.  From every corner of the world God will call his people, He will gather the faithful and even those who did not honor him will bow down and worship.

And perhaps a few folks like me will be bringing along their furry family members…if Rocks can praise Christ, then consider what the dogs and cats can do!  

Just kidding!  Well, mostly Kidding.

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