Friday, March 20, 2009


They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He made water flow for them from the rock; He split the rock and water gushed out. Isaiah 48:21

I tried to do my math homework over my lunch break at work. I had my calculator, my favorite pen, lots of scrap paper and my textbook, but, I couldn’t do it. I had just read the chapter on regression the day before, but, when I looked at the problems I had no clue as to how to even begin the calculations. I forgot to bring my notebook that contained all of the formulas and my barely decipherable scratch mark notes on how to make them work. Reading the chapter and staring at the textbook did me no good. I was lost without my cheat sheet. Even I was stunned by my lack of comprehension for a subject I have been studying with diligence and determination for more than eight weeks. I feel I have made no progress, whatsoever.

Each chapter of the text book has several pages of sample problems to complete. In typical math book fashion, the appendix at the back of the book contains the answers for the odd numbered questions. I categorically, absolutely and resolutely refuse to do the even numbered problems because I can’t check my answers. I don’t like going through this blind. I need constant reassurance that the right answer can be found somewhere.

Going through life solely on trust is harder than it sounds. I want answers, I want comprehension, I want plans, I want knowledge of outcomes I want an easy ride and I want spectacular results. I want, I want, I want. . .

But God says, “Trust Me.”

I spoke with a friend today who marvels at the strength of people who care for family members with chronic illness. She tells me that she knows about this faith stuff and everything, but, still believes she couldn’t handle the tough situation. Yet, what she has shared of her life tells me her faith is helping her handle quite a bit. Her faith and her resilience are stronger than she thinks. God is giving her just what she needs, when she needs it.

Sometimes God does not plant us by a river. Instead He parcels out water at opportune moments. It flows into our lives from unexpected places, at just the right time and in just the right amount. Sure it would be easier if we just lived by a clear stream of refreshing water. However, given our propensity to make ourselves god, we would come to believe that we were supplying all our own needs through our own hard work. Then we would never know how dependent we are on Him. We would never realize the joy of receiving a gift when it is most needed.

It would be easier if I could just understand statistics. It would be easier if I knew where God was headed with my life. It would be easier if many things were true; but it wouldn’t be better.

I will take my stats test with my trusty notebook full of formulas. I will get the grade I get and, one way or another, I will survive this class. God will provide the water, when I need it.

And while I wait to see what plans He has for me, I will learn even more about how much I need Him.

In my Bible reading I found a trickle of water from a prophet with a doomsday message:

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good and Faithful Servant

I wrote this devotion just a week shy of a year ago. My friend, David, was called home to Jesus yesterday. I know his suffering is done, his pain is gone, and he rests in the arms of his Savior. We join with his family in grieving over our loss but also in thankfulness for God’s gift to David of a life of Christian love and witnessing. God is good.

Abba Father, please surround his family with your love and comfort.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27: 45 ESV

And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink. Matthew 27:48 ESV

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23: 46 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Agape Love

The infection had made its way to his blood, his fever was high, and after more than 20 years of the ravages of Multiple Sclerosis the prognosis for a meaningful recovery were very slim. The bracelet on his arm read DNR and the empty IV bags indicated that the treatment was for everything but pain, had been stopped.

He was thirsty. The fever and the effort of breathing used up all available moisture in his body. He was so very thirsty. A family member took a sponge on a stick and put it into his mouth. The water on his parched tongue felt good. His lips closed tightly around the stick.

Jesus was thirsty at his death. The sponge lifted to His lips contained vinegar. It brought no comfort. He cried “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” and commended His spirit to His Father.

We have commended our friend and loved one to our Heavenly Father’s care. If this is his time for death, then, it is a good death. In the critical care room at the hospital he is not surrounded by nurses and beeping machines. He is not surrounded by soldiers and enemies. He is surrounded by family and friends, holding his hand, adjusting his pillow, bringing him comfort and care. He is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses as he finishes the race marked out for him; as he looks to Jesus.

His medicine puts him to sleep; offering him respite. When he wakes he sees faces of loved ones all around. As he rests their reminiscing remind him of the stories of his life. It was a good life. It is a good death.

The room is filled with people coming and going, with hugs and hand holding. There are moments of quiet, there are tears, but there is much laughter, too. He was a good and faithful servant. He is ready.

The Pastor stands at the side of the bed. He asks permission to give this child of God back to his Father. The answer is “yes.” One by one, each family member takes his hand and commends him to the faith they share. They set aside their grief to give him permission to let go of their hands and to take the hand of his Savior.

It is hard to call Jesus’ death a good death. He was forsaken, beaten, tormented, in indescribable pain, and weighed down by the burden of our sin. But it was a good death. It was an agape death; God’s perfect love right before our eyes.

Agape means my friend will also have a good death, as will his family members. For now, they will grieve over him and miss him, knowing that agape love will bring them together again, one day, in the arms of Jesus.