I Don’t Wanna Face the Day

Today is a writing day.

A day when I can’t not write.

Because writing is part of my identity, when one of those days “strikes”, I am elated, feeling powerful and like great things will be accomplished.

Today is a writing day.

I feel neither elated nor powerful. Hopefully, great things will be accomplished despite me.

I awoke about an hour ago with a familiar song running through my head.

Others I know will wake with songs of worship on their brain the minute their brain starts functioning in the morning. I know this is true because I read about them doing so on FB nearly every day.

And it’s not just music. I am reading a story by Kimberly Rae Jordan where the heroine, an artist, awakes every morning with colors running through her mind.

What has been on my brain upon waking many mornings for the past month (and even some mornings before that, if I’m being completely honest)?

Jump back to the year 2000 and a band called Great White and a song called “Face the Day” one line of which is “I don’t wanna face the day,” being sung and/or screamed by Jack Russell. At some point in the fogginess of morning brain, the song morphs into Bon Jovi’s “She’s a Little Runaway” with the lyrics also being melodically screamed by Jon.

Ugghhhh! Triple ugghhhh!

I don’t wanna face the day with either not facing the day or running away running through my mind, especially on auto replay, the way my autistic mind tends to think things.

This is not an upbeat post, at least not the current part of it. So, if you are already feeling down, just jump ahead to the message part (beginning with CHILDREN’S MESSAGE) of this post. However, as always, one thing I endeavor to make characteristic of all my posts is transparency. That means – the good . . . . The Bad. . . and THE UGLY!

Yesterday was a difficult day.

Just the latest in many difficult days. You have had them, too, probably many of them. I’m sorry, and I pray that the days of not normal (I know, Jolie, normal is not a thing!) will end.

Many say they will not.

Many say the fact that “normal” will not return is a good thing.

I want to believe that. But “right now I just can’t” to quote Bart Millard.

The devil has been working overtime lately. Not just with COVID 19 and its seemingly infinite number of ramifications, but individually, personally, in each of the lives of those whom God loves.

Who are those whom God loves?

You.

And everyone else on the planet.

But mainly – you!

God loves you, God loves them, and the devil uses us to hurt each other.

I hate that the devil uses people as tools with which to render the most painful attacks.

I have been in defense mode against these attacks for the past 4 weeks. Right now, as I sit here typing this, my whole body feels like a tightly wound coil, or maybe a rubber band, and if I can’t have a good belly scream like I had a few days back, a break is inevitable.

I hate the thought that ran through my brain more than once yesterday of wishing my work here would hurry up and be finished so God could take me away from what at its worst feels like a nightmare. Yesterday was a nightmare. And Sunday. (Yes, I know Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, and right up until we sat down to eat the lunch I’d spent a good part of the morning preparing, it was a good day.) And many other days in the past month. (At this point in my first draft I’m hoping God will encourage me to remove some of these most dark sentences before posting this.) [At this point, in my final read-through after posting but before publishing, He has not done so.]

Not facing the day, running away from the day, or desiring to be removed from the day are not solutions; and thinking about any of those things does not improve the day.

A friend of mine has been sharing the many names of God nearly daily on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. So right now, I’m going to look for the one that has to do with God being the restorer of my sanity. If I can’t find it, I just may FB message him to find out what that is. (As of the final read-through of this, he has not responded to my FB query. The closest thing I can think of that fits this is Psalm 3:3 which reads “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head”. I looked it up in the OJB version to see if there was another word there that might be a name of God, but it also used “lifter of my head.” So maybe it’s not a name, but it is a descriptor of God.)

Both of my pastors, during the recently passed season of Ash Wednesday Lent and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday have spoken on the “I AMs” of Jesus. The Sunday before “normal” went away, it was my turn to streach at the little church here in town and its two sister churches. The I AM assigned to me was “the Way”. Here is the message God helped me come up with. I need this today more than anyone else who is reading this. I thank God we receive Water and Bread for our thirsty/hungry souls. His Word promises that that is so, not that it will be so, but that it is.

To my dismay, I discovered I’d saved the sermon on my work computer (not currently accessible to me) and not on my home computer. I have the hard copy of the sermon, though, and I’m knowing God is wanting me to rewrite its words herein so as to re-benefit from them. On a review of this before posting, I have rewritten all the words; and they were nourishment to my soul. The person who writes this sentence is not the same person who wrote those preceding. I no longer wish to escape and am ready to face the rest of the day.

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

You have probably learned enough about math to understand a few things about it. You can probably count to 10, maybe higher than that. Maybe you can read those same numbers.

Math is in everything. There are 7 days in a week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and then we start all over again with Sunday.

There is another important list that has 7 things in it. God created everything. He created the days of the week in the very first part of the Bible. And, although Genesis doesn’t specifically mention it, the rest of the Bible certainly does, so we know that He created music and the mathematics behind it.

Music is also based on the number 7. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. . . Wait a minute. There’s no H in music! No, after G, it starts all over again with A.

In the Bible, there are many times something is done 7 times.

Moses was the leader of God’s special people. Other people were jealous of them because they were so precious to God. They treated them badly.

God used Moses to lead his chosen people away from the mean people to a special land prepared just for them. But all the people who were freed messed up and didn’t even get to go into the special land. Even Moses messed up! Only two men, named Joshua and Caleb, were allowed to go into and live in the land God promised.

Joshua was Moses’ best friend. After Moses and all the freed people had died, Joshua was finally given permission by God to go into the Promised Land.

But there were already people living there who had heard the wonderful and terrifying things God had done to people who were unkind to His chosen people, and they were afraid of them and took steps to keep God’s people out.

The first town Joshua and God’s people came to in the Promised Land was a town called Jericho. Jericho had a tall and thick fence built around it that God’s people would not be able to break through. God told Joshua to have the people do a strange thing. They were to march around the fence one time each day for six days. The musicians were to play their trumpets. On day number seven, they were to march around it 7 times! At the end of the 7th time around on the 7th day, the musicians were to give one loud blast on their trumpets and everybody else was to shout! That would make the tall wall fall down without anyone even touching it!

Surely this did not make any sense to Joshua or any of the other people.

But they had already seen God do things for them and their parents that did not make sense, and they trusted Him, so they did exactly what he said.

On the 7th day, after the loud trumpet blast followed by the loud shout of everyone who had been marching, those walls did fall! The Israelite people, God’s chosen people, were able to get into the town.

You are God’s chosen people!

Do you ever feel like there are tall walls in front of you that you can’t get through? Ask God to help you, listen for His voice, and trust Him to help you to do the right thing.

SERMON

Heavenly Father, speak Life into everyone who reads these words. If there are any words that are not from your heart, let eyes not see them. In Jesus’ name.

Numbers

What are some things you notice about this picture?

That the first list could be some of the numbers of the days of the week or some of the numbers of the musical alphabet as referenced in the Children’s Teaching?

What in the world is that last “number” in the 2nd list? When it is written numerically it contains 23,249,425 digits and is arrived at by multiplying 77,232,917 twos and then subtracting one. It is the highest number of its kind currently known to man. Its kind is the category of prime numbers.

Or, did you notice something much more basic? Something missing?

The number 1 is both a prime number and the first number when one is listing the 7 musical notes of any scale. In music it is written as Roman numeral I.

But let’s look at the second list which is also missing the number 1.

First, though, let’s back up and talking about the number right before #1, or zero.

Do you ever wonder why zero is able to be added and added to, subtracted and subtracted from, and multiplied, but not divided? Really, it can’t be multiplied either, or at least there is no reason to. One divided by zero logically should equal zero, but it does not. Neither does any other number. Why not?

chocolatesHere is a simple explanation for this phenomenon: Try dividing 12 chocolates among zero people. How many chocolates does each person receive?

Does that question even make sense?

We can’t share among zero people and we can’t divide by zero.

Merriam Webster defines zero as “the absence of a measurable quantity”.

Does this not sound like how things were before God created everything?

Zero.

Nothing.

Null.

The number one is the opposite of zero. It is the number from which all other numbers arise. It is the only number by which every other number, including the number 1 itself, can be divided and result in a whole number.

What caused the number 1 to exist?

Because of God and His creative voice, everything that exists exists, including the number 1. Number 1 would not exist or even need to without God. Nor would the other six numbers of music and days of the week, or the seemingly infinite but probably finite list of prime numbers. None would exist.

Now, think about God’s greatest creation.

Another of Merriam Webster’s definitions for the word zero is “an insignificant person or thing”. That is so sad. Yet, there are people who feel like exactly that. There are many reasons why this is so, and they are all equally sad. None of them were a part of God’s original plan for us. Thankfully, God never called any human being a zero.

If a person could be given a number of relevance, could the #1 be it? Not for the usual reason, as a means of comparing oneself to others. That is NOT Part of God’s plan for us.

From a mathematical perspective, what is the number one divisible by? Hint: this was already addressed earlier, but in case you don’t want to look back or don’t remember from your elementary math class – one is only divisible by one, or itself. There is no thing that can divide a human being, only that human being. Even the word I looks a little like Arabic number 1 and exactly like Roman numeral I. Only the person himself or herself (#1) can divide him or herself by rejecting the grace God offers. So, a human being is a perfect example of prime number 1.

What does all this mathematical mumbo jumbo have to do with Jesus being the Way?

Listen to some of these definitions of “way” and some Bible verses that can be found lining up nearly perfectly with each definition:

  1. A thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place.
    1. An opening for passage.
    2. The course traveled from one place to another

Isaiah 35:8 “a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness”

  1. A course leading in a direction or toward an objective Hebrews 10:20 (Jesus)“by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain , that is, his body”
  2. Manner or method of doing or happening 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
  3. Characteristic, regular or habitual manner or mode of being, behaving, or happening John 14:6 “Jesus answered ‘I AM the way. . .’”
  4. The length of a course (distance) Acts 20:24 “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me”
  5. Movement or progress along a course Acts 20:24
  6. State of affairs. When Jesus said “I AM the way” “I AM” speaks of Jesus being IT, all there is, the paramount and many of its synonyms including: supreme, first and foremost, preeminent, utmost, number-one, and prime.

Let’s look again at that last word of the synonyms of paramount: What phrases can you think of that include this word?

Prime rib: A cut of steak so decadent it practically melts in your mouth

Prime rate: An interest rate formally announced by a bank to be the lowest available at a particular time to its most creditworthy customers.

Prime numbers: We’ve already covered that one pretty well.

Prime location: When buying a house there is a saying among realtors “location, location location” the best of which would be the prime location.

So, it would appear that, no matter its application, prime is a good thing.

In the case of Jesus, the extreme reaches of His primeness cannot be fully understood and certainly not explained. Jesus, THE WAY, is the absolute best. The THOROUGHFARE was not available to mankind as a COURSE to God until the hour of Jesus’ death when the veil was rent in the Holy of Holies making the WAY to the throne of God open to all. Jesus’ sacrifice delivered this way to us. Taking it a step further, His resurrection gave us a glimpse of where following Him would lead us. This is a glorious RACE indeed where everyone who runs and finishes it receives the gift of everlasting life with He Who is the Way and made the race possible.

Knowing that Jesus is the very best of the very best, the primest of the prime, why would anyone not want to run the race by following the manner and method Jesus taught us?

Did you notice there were 7 definitions to the word way? These were Merriam Webster’s definitions, not anything from the Word of God, but it is interesting

Music has 7 numbers. According to vocalprocess.co.uk “When we organize our thoughts into words and form vowels and consonants that is mostly the cognitive side of the brain (left) but for singing we also need melodic shape and that requires the creative side of the brain (right). In fact, singing is good for us because it uses both hemispheres of the brain.”

The Bible teaches time after time us to sing, including in 1 Chronicles 16:23 which is, in itself, a part of a song sung by David.

David sang a lot. Many of the Psalms were written by him, and he is called, regardless of his many foibles, a man after God’s own heart.

However, consider other words you might have sung, even as far back as your youth. Chances are good they included songs that were not praising God. What if they were songs of praise to self, other people or things of God’s creation – or worse, the devil himself? According to Ezekiel 28:13 NKJVV satan was a musician, maybe even a worship leader before his fall. Music is a good thing, just like everything else in God’s creation; and just like everything else it can be illegitimized by the enemy of our souls. (The words within this set of parentheses were not part of the original message, but think about the songs I referenced in the first part of this post. Had I not sung them at some point in my life, they would not now be so firmly entrenched in my neural pathways.)

If, as indicated by the article previously quoted, sung words are more powerful than spoken, we should be more cognitive of those words we sing than those we speak. Perhaps that is also why God so greatly encourages “singing” words of worship to him.

Now, hear these words from Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!

Now on to the days of the week: “On the 7th day, God rested” (Genesis 2:20)

This established the pattern for us

Have you ever noticed this pattern? Does it seem like Sunday afternoon is the ideal time for a nap? Do you try to eliminate every unnecessary chore possible on that day?

This was a way of life necessary for us humans established by The Way way back in the beginning.

What is it about the number 7?

The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). Revelation is the last book in the Bible, thereby completing the Word of God in written form. Seven is the number of completion, or a work being finished. Remember, the meaning of complete is remarkably close to that of perfect.

Many sermons are based upon these last two lists. For that reason, only the lists, and a brief explanation of the first will be shared today.

7 churches

These are the 7 churches listed in the early part of the book of Revelation. They were real churches in existence at the time of the early church of the Way. There are many different theories on what relevance they have to today’s church, but that they have relevance cannot be denied because God chose to put their stories in His Written Word.

The last list of 7?

  1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do Luke 23:34
  2. Today you will be with me in paradise Luke 23:43
  3. Woman, behold your son. John 19:26
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken men? Matthew27:46
  5. I thirst John 19:28
  6. It is finished. John 19:30
  7. Into your hands I commit my spirit Luke 23:46
  8. Into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

The Woman at the Well

woman-of-samaria-at-jacobs-wellAlthough the Bible is called the Word of God because every word in it comes from God, in many Bibles every word that Jesus spoke is written in red ink. The 4 gospels are full of red-letter words, and they appear elsewhere in smaller quantity.

There are several instances where the red words of Jesus are interspersed with black words spoken by one or more people. Among all the one-on-one conversations Jesus had, one is longer than any other.

  1. This conversation was with a woman.
  2. The woman’s name might have been Mary (in fact, her name was not given, but it could have been Mary). Side note: Whenever I think of Mary’s in the Bible, I always think of that poor woman at Jesus’ tomb in Matthew 27:61 who is called simply “the other Mary”. Maybe the woman at the well was the other Mary.
  3. She is probably just about the last person anyone living in that time would have imagined Jesus speaking with.

Something else you might notice about the Bible and every other book. The writing does not go clear to the edge of the page. There are white, blank spaces at the sides, top, and bottom of each page. Sometimes there might be footnotes, but even then, there will still be a blank space before the very edge of the page. There are spaces like this at the edges of this blog. These are called margins. You probably don’t even pay any attention to them, do you?

Margins are defined as being the edge or border of something, or the area outside the space where the action occurs. So, when a person is described as a marginalized individual he or she is someone on the outside looking in. This person lives in a place of loneliness. It can be a place of despair. It may be that no one even really notices the person.

The woman at the well, although clearly of at least average intelligence for a woman judging by the conversation she had with Jesus, was a marginalized person.

Was she born that way, destined to travel the road of life emotionally and spiritually alone?

I can see 3 possible reasons for her to live in the margins of life.

First, she was “the woman at the well”. So, yes, to some degree for that time in history she was marginalized simply due to her gender.

Second, she was a Samaritan, marginalized by her ethnicity. Again, born that way.

Lastly, she was living an immoral lifestyle.

Jesus was known for doing the opposite of what the religious leaders expected of Him. The Apostle John illustrates this fact through this account perhaps more clearly than any other.

Why was Jesus in Samaria?

It was the shortest route to his destination, and the reason John even mentions this becomes clear as we read further in the account.

Why was this such an odd thing? The Bible tells us Jews, particularly the religious Pharisees, tended to avoid going through Samaria at all.

To understand this, you have to go back nearly 1000 years. Although the trouble betweenisrael the Israelite tribes started all the way back in the days of Jacob (Israel), it was after one of Solomon’s servants rebelled against David’s son that the northern kingdom broke away. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained, and if you read 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles, you will see that the southern kingdom was maybe slightly more faithful to God than the northern kingdom, and thus existed for a longer period of OT time. The capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem. The northern kingdom had 3 capitals, of which the last was Samaria, and its people came to be known as Samaritans.

The traditions and religious practices of both kingdoms were still in existence in Jesus’ earthly time.

Jesus was of the southern kingdom—the Samaritan woman (and other Samaritans mentioned in the NT) are from the northern.

If you think about it, analogies can be made between the interactions between the Jews & Samaritans and the racial tensions and religious wars taking place today.

Jesus and the woman at the well are 2 people who should be enemies but instead have a deep and lengthy conversation.

Why did Jesus stop at Jacob’s well, in particular?

He was tired.

Jesus was at this exact location at this exact time because it was a shortcut to his destination — and he was tired. Those are the logical explanations.

But faith and logic often are not the same thing. Sometimes . . . they are opposites.

What was the ultimate result of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman?

Verse 39 “Many of the Samaritans believed. . .”

The first of them was the woman at the well.

She had been married 5 times. Since women were not permitted to divorce, that means 5 different men had divorced her. The reason could have been as simple as the husband tired of her. That still happens today. Whatever the reason, she had been rejected 5 times. My guess is her self-esteem had to be about nil after all that. It’s little wonder she was not married to the man she was living with at the time!

She drew her water at noon, the hottest part of the day. Possibly she had once drawn her water at the same time as the other women, the more normal and comfortable hour. Maybe the other women had scorned her which led to her eventually going to the well at a time she would not be judged. Yet Jesus, a man, a Jew, and a completely sinless human being, deigned to speak to her without contempt.

They discussed the differences between the water in the well and the water Jesus had. Since the well was “Jacob’s Well”, and Jacob was considered the father of the northern kingdom, this was considered the best water available. Yet, Jesus said the living water he offered was superior. If she drank of it, she would never thirst again.

The woman wanted this living water. She didn’t want to keep going to Jacob’s well every day at the hottest hour of the day. Jesus told her to go and get her husband, even though he knew she didn’t have one.

The woman was honest, and Jesus spoke, knowing everything about her, stated the facts of her life he knew would capture her full ate attention; but. . . there is no indication he was condemning her for her lifestyle.

Then followed a discussion of the proper place to worship with Jesus stating there is no one place to worship, all that is required is the attitude with which it must be done, that being in Spirit and in Truth.

Lastly He revealed to the woman that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

All these things together kindled the fire of the woman’s faith in Jesus.

Then the disciples showed up. They were surprised not to see him talking to a Samaritan or one who practiced immoral behavior, but to see him talking with a woman.

This brings up something interesting I noted when researching this.

bible skinny

Nearly all the translations read that the disciples were surprised only because he was talking with a woman. However, The Message translation/paraphrase, a current favorite of many people, reads as follows: “27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.”

Most of the other translations say nothing other than “a woman”, and none say anything about the disciples’ countenances.

The Passion Translation/Paraphrase (one of my favorites) reads: “27 At that moment the disciples returned and were stunned to see Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman. Yet none of them dared to ask him why or what they were discussing.”

Again, the translator was taking some liberties. The “Samaritan” in front of woman is not too much of a stretch because they were, after all, in Samaria. But “dared to ask him”? Were the disciples really that afraid of Jesus?

Here are a couple other translations:

KJV: 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”

Mounce Interlinear:

27 Just then his disciples came back. kai epi houtos autos mathētēs erchomai.

They were astonished that he was talking with a woman ; ho · kaithaumazō hoti laleō meta gynē;

however, no one said to her, mentoi, oudeis legō,

“What do you want?” “tis zēteō?”

or to him, “Why are you talking with her ē, “tis laleō meta autos

This is why we Bible readers must be careful when using a contemporary version of the Bible. Although the creators of The Message and The Passion Translation were more than likely correct in their speculations, they are speculations because they are not found in the Greek text.

Whatever the case, as soon as the disciples showed up, the woman left so quickly she forgot her water jar. Or. . . Maybe she thought she would no longer need it? She had, after all, just drunk of the Living Water.

A couple chapters earlier, in John 2:23, we learn of the first Jewish believers who had been at the Passover. The woman at the well became then in chapter 4 the first non-Jewish evangelist of the Good News when she asked “Could this be the Messiah?” Could this have been aa rhetorical question, asked to whet the appetites of those already thirsty for the Living Water?

Meanwhile, back at the well the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat something. He told them he had food to eat of which they knew nothing. The disciples, humans, were thinking with their human minds that someone had brought him something to eat. But Jesus responded His food was to do the will of His Father which was to harvest the crop for eternal life. This harvest started with the Samaritan woman and the scythe extended to everyone she came in contact with.

She was such an unlikely first evangelist!

Or was she?

1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us “But God chose those the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise; and God chose the puny and powerless to shame the high and mighty.” So, although it may have seemed like Jesus was at the well to take a shortcut and because He was tired, He was actually on a divine mission. It doesn’t sound like He ever even got a drink of the water from Jacob’s Well.

In fact, His true reason for being at the well is found in v.34 “to do the will of God”. Since Jesus is God, He’d already known since “the beginning” about the woman at the well and what her purpose was to be.

This gives me hope. I have no letters after my name; I have and am nothing to make me of high societal standing. The woman at the well was clearly a marginalized person of her time due to her gender, her race, and her lifestyle. I have often felt marginalized, and I suspect some of you have as well at one time or another. How wonderful to know that we are the people God can most easily use for His glory and to know we have each been given a place in His grand plan from “the beginning” (see Psalm 139:16).

I’ll end with this “This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95. (This is an apocryphyal story, but still useful for illustration.)

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

The Samaritan woman tried to argue with Jesus. When she realized that He was her lighthouse, she changed her course.

Ask yourself: Am I arguing with Jesus about the any of the circumstances of my life? When we drink His Living Water, and as long as we stay within His light, we can be sure that we are not off course.

prayFather, I pray for the weak and powerless ones, the marginalized, remembering that these are the ones it is easiest for you to use for your glory. Help them to learn of, accept, and internalize the true value You place upon them. The details of Your plans for our lives have been known by You since long before we ever drew a breath. Quench our thirst with your Living Water. And help us to look to our Compass, our Lighthouse for our direction when it’s too dark to see our feet in front of us. Be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. Amen.

Leaning Into Jesus

walking-in-the-spirit
Today I was about to step on the scale when I heard God tell me “Don’t do it.”  I was obedient.  Since the first thing I usually write in my journal is my weight, today I wrote “No weight today”.  Then God started talking to me some more.

Those words “NO WEIGHT TODAY” primarily were written due to the fact that I didn’t step on the scale.  But what jumped out at me was the other type of weight.

  1. a : burden, pressure
  • the weight of their responsibilities

from Merriam-Webster

leaningNO BURDEN TODAY.  Jeannette (my coach at Finding Balance) has told me more than once to “lean into God”, and my best friend and spiritual mentor has told me over the past 2 days more than once that God has told her I’m under tremendous stress and to simply relax in Him.  They kinda’ mean the same thing, and it sounds like God really wants me to get this.  I will not bear any of that heavy weight of stress today.

But He wasn’t done yet.  A Bible study I’m doing referred to Romans 8:6, and I happened to read the Amplified which said:  “Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever];”  Notice God says the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.  Sounds like relaxing in God to me.

water rockNext, the same study instructed me to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which read “and all [of them] ate the same spiritual food; and all [of them] drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not well-pleased with most of them, for they were scattered along the ground in the wilderness [because their lack of self-control led to disobedience which led to death].”  In the wilderness the supernatural food (manna) and supernatural water (from the Rock) came day by day, and what came on one day was not good for the next day.  Application:  God was feeding and watering me today, but that won’t be good enough for tomorrow.

And finally, I realized the above verse wasn’t actually 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 at all; it was 1 Corinthians 10:3-5.  So I looked up the verses in 2 Corinthians, and they said “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,”  Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for me at this point in my life means especially all those thoughts that bring about stress.  Right now, those are most of my waking thoughts.  The only thoughts I can think that are beneficial are those from God, to be found in His Word and through other ways He communicates with me.

Can I do it?  Most assuredly not!  But when I lean into God and relax in His arms, He is more than capable of doing what I cannot.

Death & Life. . . No, Just Life

life is short, I wanna live it well

Today was Lois Byrne’s funeral.

Her daughter asked me to play the piano and accompany the soloist.  Because my mother had the flu and couldn’t, I also gave a eulogy for her.  It was all an honor and a privilege.

Lois has been in my life my entire life.  I was born on a Sunday.  My parents took me to church the next Sunday.  Lois was there.  From my childhood, I most remember her as a Sunday school teacher and Bible School (that’s what we called VBS back then) teacher.  Back in the 1960s there were quite a few of us children learning the stories from her.  When, at the age of nearly 17 I came to know Jesus personally, those early lessons were undoubtedly a part of the experience.

In recent years, I knew her as an encourager.  She often complimented my piano playing.  She would sometimes cry when I preached, and I allowed myself to believe it was because she knew she had a role in the faith I now have.  Today we said good-bye to her in the same church where she taught children Bible stories about Paul, David, Joshua, and Jesus among others.  Hers was a life well lived.  It is a life she now enjoys in perfect health in Heaven; of that I have no doubt.  When I think about Lois now I can’t help but think of the Ray Boltz song “Thank You” when I think about her walking the streets of Heaven.  When I gave the eulogy my mom would have given, I added some of my memories to Mom’s.

It was difficult being a part of the service because the last one I attended was my husband’s.  At the graveside on February 12, 2016, it was bitterly cold, windy, and snowing.  Today it was cold and windy.  I am thankful to God I didn’t have to go to the graveside; instead I went to the village hall to help set out the funeral dinner.

The church was packed out for her funeral.  The pastor is a good friend, a confidante, and I could just hear her thinking—where are all these people on Sunday morning?  100+ people come to mourn, but those same people can’t come to receive life.

Of course, many of those people do attend other houses of worship.  But our town has somewhere between 200 and 300 residents.  Between the Methodist church and the Lutheran church across the street, both would be full to capacity if everyone in town attended one or the other.

This past Sunday, 4 days ago, I attended the visitation of a young man with whom my husband and I were acquainted.  Rod was good friends with his parents.  The man’s brother attends Rod and my church in Lincoln.  Afterward, I went to visit Lois and her daughter and pray with them.  An hour later, Lois was gone.

It seemed like a week of death because right in the middle of those, yesterday, February 7, was the 2nd anniversary of the date Rod went to be with Jesus.  Next Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and this year Ash Wednesday, would have been his 58th birthday.  When I checked Facebook last night, there wasn’t a single mention of him.  Not even by me.  Life goes on, but he is not forgotten; I know he is not.

To say I miss him still is an understatement.

Like Lois, he poured so much into my life, albeit at the other end.  And like Lois, he probably didn’t even realize it.

Before I met him, the life I lived was that of one who was just going through the motions.  I was attempting to live for God, had been doing so for years, but there was no overcoming.  I was looking forward to heaven, but there was no enjoying life in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).  My children were nearly grown, and I was scared to death that God was going to leave me a broken person, useless, no longer relevant in any way, unable to find victory in any area of my life.

He did not.

He loaned me Rod for a few precious years.

Rod loved me, a person utterly unlovable, unworthy, insignificant, at least by any person who was not related to me and was not God.

Rod loved me; even while God was using him to bring healing and rejuvenation to my soul, He also used him to help restore my body after a serious battle with cancer a year and a half into our marriage.

Rod loved me.  Even after 6 years of marriage when he was finally beginning to see I wasn’t always the “blessing” he had proclaimed me to be in the first year of our marriage, but I was a real person with some serious flaws, one being an extreme distrust of just about everyone.  My favorite nonbiblical quote is one by Shakespeare, “Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

I had good reason to be distrustful.  Rod had more reason than I; yet he continued to love.  Me and everyone else he met.

My negativity never rubbed off on him.  Laughter was his primary expression.

More than one person has suggested to me that God placed this angel in my life for 6 years to help me become me, the me God created me to be.  It sounds right, but how can it be?  Rod was a wonderful person in his own right; his ministry had to be more than that.

When we married at the ages of 48 and 49, I believed we would live out the rest of our lives together; and I intended to make sure those years were the best ones of Rod’s life.  I hope they were.  Aside from the years my kids were born, they were certainly mine.

Now that he’s been gone from me for 2 years, I find myself fearful (fearful? she who wrote a book entitled Fearless in Euroclydon? she who knows there is a verse in the Bible regarding fear for every single day of the year?) at times of reverting into the person I was before Rod came into it.

In addition to the fear, there’s the apathy.  I recently read a blog post by a writer who believes apathy is the greatest hindrance to walking out the Christian life.  Another teacher shared the same thoughts.  And, with the prayers of my dear husband on my behalf no longer wafting up to God daily, I feel that very thing attempting to make its insidious way in.  Apathy seems akin to stagnation.  Both are death.

Yet, in the funeral of a dear saint of God, there are many reminders of the life of God in the midst of death.  Apathy can’t withstand a life lived in faith because faith is the opposite of death; faith is life.  Today more than one person testified they’d never heard Lois complain, not about anything, ever.  Rod lived life with such joy, as he lay in his casket I observed that the funeral director couldn’t completely get the smile off his face.

Lois and Rod both exemplified the faith life; if either of them ever experienced apathy, I never saw it.  They lived their lives well to the very end.  They lived life which death cannot defeat.

O death, where is thy sting?  Some believe Shakespeare said that, too, though others say not.  Not having read him, I cannot say for certain one way or the other.

I have, however, read the written Word of God, and He said it first through the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church chapter 15 verse 55.

Death has no sting.  It is the beginning of life for those who know Jesus.  For those of us who remain, it brings the good memories and encouragement of a life well lived.  “Life is short, I wanna’ live it well.”  Line from Live It Wall by Switchfoot 2016