SEEING JESUS MORE CLEARLY

This reflection comes from Day 18 of our Perkiomenville Mennonite Church 40 day challenge.  I hope it helps you as you seek clarity in knowing Jesus.

 

Seeing Jesus

READING
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”  He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

REFLECTING
The man saw in part at the first spit and touch. He saw in full after the second. Much has been made of this process. Why wasn’t Jesus able to heal him the first time? Why did it take two stages? The question seems to focus on some lack or missing element with Jesus or the man. I have come to see that Jesus does not act without intention, even when it appears to us that he was not successful. With so many references in Mark to seeing, a partial seeing suggests a parable (Michael Card). The man saw in part and only saw in whole after a second touch. Peter saw Jesus for who he was and yet placed on Jesus his expectations of that title so that he did not see Jesus clearly. Peter’s clarity would come, but with a more painful experience.

I would like to think I see Jesus clearly, but let’s face it. I have my understandings and traditions. I have the teachings and explanations of men and women over my lifetime along with my own discoveries. I have served with and met with people from Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Mennonite (just to name a few) and have gratefully been influenced by all of them as we sought Jesus together.

All of them influenced me in seeing Jesus but they have not all helped clarify who I am seeing. It is difficult at times to reconcile the various views I have been shown. I live with the tensions that each creates with the other. And I have found that if one subscribes to the purest form of her tradition, she is likely to be dismissive of other points of view, even if she is tolerant of them. I found this at work in a statement from The Gospel Coalition Canada toward Pastor Bruxy Cave, pastor of The Meetinghouse, the largest Anabaptist gathering in Canada. The way the Reformed pastors and this Anabaptist pastor see Jesus more the same than different, but the differences created a test of orthodoxy rather than a tension that could help both.

I am like this blind man. I have been touched once and I can see shapes and figures coming into focus, but they never completely align. There is so much more to grasp about my Messiah and my Lord. There are beliefs about Jesus to which I could never subscribe simply because they skew the picture beyond comprehension. And I certainly have to be careful of ghost images that seem to be like Jesus but are not images cast by him. I am still being given sight.

May you see with ever more clarity as well.

RESPONDING
Jesus, I see you as a tree walking. Yet I see you walking, and I want to follow. Give me enough clarity to know it is you so I can also reject the false images that come into my line of vision.

A REASONABLE REQUEST

Day 13 of a journey through Mark with the church at Perkiomenville Mennonite.

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READING
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.  By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”  But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”  “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”  Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied,  and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. (Mark 6:30-44)

REFLECTING
The disciples’ request to send people away seems a bit like the prayers I pray. It seems like a reasonable request. Given what they knew, asking Jesus to send them all away accomplished two things – they would get some rest and the crowds would get fed.  The disciples saw a win-win but Jesus’ answer was a double blow.

No, this passage is not about prayer. It just struck me how the request from the disciples seems like some of my praying. I pray from my understanding and form my request around what I cannot do and what Jesus is most certainly able to accomplish. It is totally reasonable.  Then Jesus’ response leaves me confused or even upset.

You do something.

What? I don’t have what it takes?

What DO you have?

I only have this much.

Then bring it to the table and let’s see what happens.

It makes sense that I let the Lord know what I see and how I see it. He invites my petitions.  But before I make that petition, maybe a good thing to ask is how the Lord sees the circumstance and ask for what he knows and how this situation best turns out.  As a friend of mine challenged me to pray, “Lord, show me what you know that I do not know.”  It may not change my petition, but I suspect it will completely rework it. His revelation of the thing I had not considered, like my small portion meeting a human need, will make a huge difference in how I pray.

RESPONDING
Lord, I see masses need something. My solution is to let them go get something to eat, but you want me to engage in meeting their need. I did not see that before you asked me.  I don’t have much, but use what I have…and use me.  Continue to help me shape my petitions to pray your will be done.

UNFOUNDED AND FOUNDED

My R&R today launched from thoughts inspired by a blogger I follow.  It gets at the heart of my concern for how we as believers act and react in these uncertain times.  It also expresses my heart that we have a sure foundation and no reason to live in or promote fear.

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READING – Isaiah 8:11-18
This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”
Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.

REFLECTING
Let me get right to the point. For people who follow Jesus, the current crisis and the various explanations that abound do not constitute a reason to be up in arms. Amid all the fears and desires for information, a number of theories sprang up concerning how our current situation came to be and how it will play out. Some of them may even be true. But it does not matter.

How can you say that!! We are losing freedoms and life as we know it! People are using this pandemic to change everything! How can you say that it does not matter!!

While I do not care for the current state of affairs and I would prefer that things return to normal, what happens in our nation and the world is of little consequence for one reason – this is not the land of my first allegiance. My first allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ.

When Jesus proclaimed that God had drawn near and that we should see this as good news, he invited us to join the kingdom of God and make his kingdom and good news the focus of our living. It doesn’t mean we stop being citizens of our countries. It does mean that we live first as kingdom of God citizens within those states.

I was reminded of this today by an author I follow. He wanted to know what would happen if the Christians who promoted conspiracy theories or personal rights on social media would put as much time into the promotion and proclamation of Jesus and his good news. I completely concur. No matter what kind of state I live in – democratic, republic, totalitarian, monarchy, or otherwise, my allegiance to the Lord Jesus is primary over all these things. It is my first focus. It provides the lens through which I see the world and interpret the times. And it is the message I am charged to promote.

The good news is that Jesus is the victor and the Lord. He won the battle with death and invites us all to share in the life of God through him!

During Isaiah’s day, conspiracy theories abounded. Some of those theories said that the prophets were not speaking truth when they spoke in the name of the Lord. Jeremiah was targeted for his speeches against the king, at one point being thrown into a dry well to silence him. The Lord told Isaiah, “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.” (Is 8:12-13)

I understand that, in a time of fear and lack of sound information, we look for something that makes sense. We will make our own meaning where meaning does not form. For me, there is very little information out there that satisfies my questions. Regardless of how this plays out, Jesus will STILL be Lord and his kingdom agenda is still central to life for those called by his name.

So what is Jesus’ kingdom agenda? I hoped you would ask. In its most simple form, Jesus said that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. To use the question Andy Stanley poses, “What does love require of me towards God and my neighbor?”

If I am bending all my energy towards loving God and others, everything else takes second, third, or last place. I am willing to hear you out regarding your theories, your fears, or whatever else is bothering you in this crisis. That is what love requires. Love also requires that I remind you that God is near, and his kingdom is still standing and will not fall. God is still building a community of people who will live and declare true peace. And that message will still be unpopular among power brokers and others who want the kingdoms of this world to succeed. It is more likely true that God loves us and has an uncomfortable plan for our lives as we follow him in a world opposed to his plan.

That squeezes a lot of stuff into a few words. Let me make it fewer. Conspiracies will continue and nations will rise and fall. Jesus is still Lord and he calls us to stand firm in our faith and not be consumed or focused on what might happen because what does happen will not change his unshakeable throne of love and peace. When this is our center, we will not be shaken.

RESPONDING
May your kingdom come and your will be done on this earth now as it is now done in heaven.

MARK Day 8 – CAPACITY

bread food basket delicious

READING – Mark 4:21-34

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.  He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

REFLECTING
If I was concerned about hearing Jesus, Jesus let me know there is a way to be sure I hear – keep listening and keep thinking about the things I have heard. The measure I bring to the pantry is what I will receive and even more! But if I come without anything into which to place the knowledge, I will lose that and anything else I have.

It’s like the wineskin parable of Matthew. Bring a new wineskin, get new wine. Bring an old wineskin and the skin, as well as the wine, will be lost. In this parable, we will receive according to the capacity we make available to receive his insight. The bigger the basket, the more we will carry away. But come with nothing to fill up and it will all fall to the floor along with anything else we were looking for.

Understanding Jesus’ ways is not a one and done act. His words carry weight and wisdom. They need pondering not only for comprehension but for action. It seems to me that one never really understands Jesus’ words unless he or she has found a way to live them out. The true grasp we have on Jesus’ words shows itself not in what we can say about them but in how we find ways to enact them in our lives.

But to be sure, if we do not bring any openness to receive and understand his ways, we will never live them because they will never be in possession.

RESPONDING
It may be fits and starts, Jesus, but I keep working to align my life with your words by making sure I grasp who you are and what you had to say. Continue to open my ears and eyes and may my grasp on your words grow even as I grow in living what I have understood.

MARK DAY 7 – EARS TO HEAR

As Perkiomenville Mennonite Church continues its journey through Mark, I will occasionally post a reflection from my own R&R journal.  I hope you are reading along and reflecting as well.

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READING
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”  Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

REFLECTING
I am so awfully familiar with the parable of the soils. I wonder at times about the parables that were not recorded. Mark says that he taught many things by parables. The four gospel writers gave us a great many parables, but I am guessing there are many which were never recorded.

As for those we do have, I ask another question.  Do I still hear the ones we have been given? Do I have ears to hear what Jesus said when I have been over them so many times? The stories become familiar and their meanings become set in my mind, so it is easy to miss hearing the parable as if it were my first time hearing Jesus. I am not sure how to adjust my ears for this.

I remember reading the parable of the sower recently where I focused on the products that came from the good soil. The soil we have here in Pennsylvania produces bumper crops of rocks and weeds.  We work diligently to amend our garden with compost and nutrients so that the soil produces a good crop.  Gardens take a great deal of intentionality.  The soil that produces is the soil that receives and embraces what is planted.

Good soil receives the word, embraces the word, and then a crop is produced. It is not because the soil was anything but receptive, maybe even prepared.  I think this begins to answer my question – as long as I put myself in a place to receive what Jesus spoke, I will hear. When I willingly receive the word, it can produce something in me.  It is when I let everything else crowd in and take over soil space, I will grow tone-deaf to Jesus’ kingdom message.

RESPONDING
I want to know and you hear you. Open my ears that I may hear. May your Holy Spirit make me aware of when I am allowing weeds and rocks and hardpan to overtake my soil prepared for you.

COVER – Psalm 91

Note: As Perkiomenville Mennonite Church reads through Mark, there are days when no readings are scheduled.  This allows us to read something we missed, re-read something we want to explore a little more, or read something entirely different.  After listening to the Brant and Sherri Oddcast, I turned to Psalm 91, which producer Sherri is meditating on and memorizing.

brown and black hen with peep of chick outdoor
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

READING – Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his
faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come
near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he
acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him
and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. ”

REFLECTING
Sherri Lynn (producer, the Brant Hansen Show) is taking the coronavirus lockdown as an opportunity to meditate on and memorize Scripture. Sherri mentioned that she is working through Psalm 91. The unknown psalmist declares that whoever dwells in the Most High’s shelter will rest in his shadow – there is safety when God is our refuge.

I wish it meant that I would never face trouble or have to stare down any difficulty.  This coronavirus stuff would just not get to me in any way.  “But doesn’t this psalm say that?” No, actually it doesn’t. There is still a danger. There is still trouble. But that trouble will not overwhelm us. If we make the Lord our refuge and not rely on the salvation of our own design, the Lord will take care of the rest.

I can hear someone’s voice in my head arguing that plenty of Christians faced hardships and were not saved. They were killed or tortured or exiled. They did not make it.  Where is their salvation? I am tempted to spiritualize the answer and say they were ultimately saved when they went to be with the Lord Most High.  While that is also true, nothing in this psalm points to eternity as the rescue point.  The Lord saves in this life.  So why doesn’t he rescue everyone who loves him?

That question does not find its answer here. You might even say the experience of the persecuted stands in conflict with this psalm. The psalm seems pretty “If-Then.”

What is helpful for me is to see this as an orienting psalm. It gives me a place to aim for in understanding God’s care for me. The Lord will come through for me even if I face the worst that others or life can do to me. I will also feel some disorientation when God seems silent or even absent. I have known those times and wondered where God was hiding.  I may not ever understand those times when I finish the course of my life. But he will still be my refuge not because he took away the problems but because he was with me in them.

RESPONDING
Thank you for sheltering me and overshadowing me in times of fear, doubt, and harm. Thank you for always being my shelter.

MARK DAY 5 – CALLED BY JESUS

Note: Perkiomenville Mennonite Church is in a 40-day challenge to read and reflect on the Gospel from Mark. I will post an occasional reflection as an encouragement to join in and reflect together on the good news Mark brought us.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

READING – Mark 3:1-19
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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REFLECTING
How excited would I have been if Jesus had called me to be with him and to be sent to preach and cast out demons! There are all sorts of people around Jesus, but he only chose a few to be with him and to learn from him. I also wonder if I would accept it.

The excitement of being called might be chilled a bit by remembering that some people in the last synagogue meeting were present just to see if he did something worthy of an accusation. Jesus deftly handled their intentions, putting it on them to decide if doing good on the Sabbath was lawful even if it broke the law. They did not answer. Not answering meant they could not be held accountable for an answer.

Still, Jesus is doing and saying things that give hope. Frankly, it excites me! God has come near. Now Jesus chose me to be with him and share in this ministry. Yet he is really a contractor and not a rabbi. What am I really buying in to? Am I willing to go with Jesus or am I content to see him at work and keep my distance?

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RESPONDING
Where I am right now, I want to be with you and learn from you. There is stuff I still have not figured out but I think that may be where you want me so I am open to your leading.

MARK DAY 1 – IN THE WILDERNESS

aerial view of bushes on sand fieldNOTE: I challenged our church to read through the gospel from Mark in 40 days.  It is meant to coincide with a preaching series through the gospel which will begin May 10.  From time to time, I will post some of my reflections as an encouragement to engage with Mark.  I hope they also encourage you as you take the time to build a new habit of reading Scripture or reinforce your current habit.

READING
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

(Mark 1:9-15)

REFLECTING
The way Mark presents Jesus’ start in ministry, things happen fast. He is baptized, affirmed, driven to the wilderness, tempted, then moves right out into ministry. The thing that takes the most time is the time in the desert.
Jesus was out there for forty days. With everything else happening so fast, this seems to happen so slowly. I wonder if it felt that way to Jesus.

I am not a fan of difficulty. I prefer a smooth road. But God has a thing about taking his servants through times in the wilderness. It can be preparing me for something to come. It will certainly reveal what is in me that needs refining or removing. The difficulty is a tattletale.

If I am true to my confession that I want more of God in my life and that I want to do his will, I need times in the wilderness. I may not like it, but I am pretty sure I will like what God brings out of it – again, provided I want what he wants. The desert is where God does his best work of making me more like Jesus.

I have been in the wilderness before and almost missed the work God was doing. This current COVID lockdown feels like the wilderness. It is easy to look at the circumstances and wish it were over. Do I see what God is doing to purify me and continue to shape me? Am I aware of God’s work while I wait for this to be over?
RESPONDING
Father, I confess that I want your will but it is difficult to want the wilderness experience for my shaping. I pray that this COVID wilderness will produce more of your fruit of faithfulness and readiness in me.

Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

THANKSGIVING DAY 11

maxresdefault.jpgThe last two days have been grounded in Psalm 136. It is a recitation of the acts of Yahweh for his people with one repeated refrain:

HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER

There have been some circumstances I will not recite that have resulted in feelings of stress.  I have also felt some anxiety and fear.  This Psalm has been a help to me.  I am reminded it in that our God is unparalleled.  He is unequaled.  He is unrivaled.   There is no one who can match, imitate, or duplicate his unfailing and never-ending love.  

God sees me in my fear and knows what I am stressing about.  He gives me a different possibility of the outcomes I have imagined.  He is present for those who stand in faith.  He will also provide for me and help me conquer fear and anything that stands against his good name.

HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER

Today, I am thankful for his good love which cannot be conquered or quenched.  It will endure forever.

FACING A DEFICIT…OR A GAIN

I may have to live without my home computer. It sounds like a foreign concept!

My “new” computer developed a problem that, according to my service tech, could be an easy fix. Unfortunately, the computer will have to be gone for 2-1/2 weeks for the fix. They cannot do the repair locally.

WHAT??

How in the world am I supposed to go without my computer for that length of time? I have work to do. I am involved in on-line learning. What about my email??

This little rant is not a search for answers. Once the shock of the timeline wore off, my mind went to a very familiar place. It is something we say often, but when it becomes tangible in our lives, it raises all sort of emotion.

We are so dependent on technology. The concept of no internet access is almost foreign now.

The search for work-arounds is in full swing. I can use my work computer to do the vast majority of my tasks. I also have an iPad and iPhone so I will not be out of touch…unless those too fail in this time period.

But to lose one of my main connecting points left me feeling at a deficit. It is so easy and convenient to start work at home, save it to the cloud, and pick up where ever I go, whether the office or the coffee shop. I might actually have to disengage my laptop from the docking station at work and carry it home.

Okay, no one is really feeling sorry for me and you should not. This is more than a first world problem. This is a problem of dependence on my tools such that if I cannot use them, I feel like life itself will fall apart.

Really? Is life that much more inconvenient? Am I so tied to this technology that I cannot function or have an identity or have a life? Maybe this sounds like I am blowing it out of proportion, but check your own feelings. If you lost your laptop or desktop, would it NOT cause you some angst?

It makes me hear the words of Jesus a little differently when he says, “Do not worry…”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25, ESV)

Maybe Jesus would add, “Do not be anxious for your computer when it fails you. Is life not more than electronics and the soul more than the internet?”

In the learning community I participate in, we have agreed to try some exercises in solitude. This is the intentional action of being alone and centered to focus on being with the Lord. If the computer is not waiting for me at home, maybe I could sit in that big fluffy chair and pray. I could read a (gasp) paper bound book! I might journal with paper and ink!

I won’t be going without technology during this time. While I will be a bit hampered, I have tools to work around this circumstance. And it just may be that the circumstance I thought would cause a deficit will really produce a gain in my life. Not only will I have the chance to not sweat it, I will also have some possible margin restored to my life for a time…margin I can use to center in the Lord and do some things that do not require the internet.

What a concept.