Early morning in Auckland, having just arrived from an all night flight from San Francisco, I enjoyed this March 27 reading from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest: “The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord’s surprise visits. This readiness will not be brought about be service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of child like wonder He wants us to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious. In other words, we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of lofty lifestyle–we must be spiritually real.”
As we serve and seek, we must remain ready and recognize His unexpected appearance.
“Jesus reveals God’s love to us, so that His joy may become ours, and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing–sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, natural disaster, or even death–can take that love away.” Henri Nouwen
Henri Nouwen writes, “the Word of God is always sacramental. In the book of Genesis we are told that God created the world, but in Hebrew the words for ‘speaking’ and for ‘creating’ are the same word. Literally translated it means ‘God spoke light and light was.’ For God, speaking is creating. When we say that God’s word is sacred, we are saying God’s word is full of God’s presence.”
“Full of His Presence.” What an incredible way to read the Bible this deeply, allowing ourselves to be completely surrounded by him and so letting ourselves be changed and transformed
Meg and I recently returned from an overnight trip to the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, located about an hour and half south east of Boise, ID. We took our Chinese students, Jasmine and Marshal with us. They enjoyed the variations of patterns, colors, vegetation of the dunes, and hiking in the area. Here is how Wikipedia describes this area:
“Reportedly the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America rises to 470 feet (140 m) high above small lakes. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. Other dunes in the Americas form at the edge of a natural basin. The Bruneau dunes form near the center. The basin has acted as a natural trap for over 12,000 years. The dunes may have started with sands from the Bonneville Flood about 15,000 years ago. The prevailing winds blow from the southeast 28 percent of the time and from the northwest 32 percent of the time, keeping the dunes fairly stable. Unlike most dunes, these do not drift far.”
My brother is finally home! What began as vascular surgery to fix arterial bleeding after a heart catheterization, ended with work on his gall bladder and the discovery that he needed a defibrillator/pacemaker implant. Attending to these two conditions would have occurred much more slowly, painfully, and dangerously had they happened at home. The hospital setting allowed a much more aggressive and expert evaluation and treatment. Thank you for your prayers of restoration.
So, what Paul writes about comfort and what Nouwen writes about joy is particular meaningful as we move through life–we may seek happiness but the deep life lessons come from God’s Presence and comfort in the times we are lifted/carried by His strength through trouble.
My brother Greg hopes to be out of the hospital on Monday. He will transition to a skilled nursing center to regain his strength. On Monday, February 28, he had an endoscopy procedure to release “sludge” from his gall bladder. He ultimately will need to have his gall bladder removed. So, he faces another level of future hospitalization. Please continue to pray that he will continue to rely upon and know God’s love and strength and presence.
And God’s love and strength and presence are what both the prophet Isaiah and the Oswald Chamber’s speak of in these blog pictures. We can never exhaust God. He gives completely of Himself to each of us. We do not have to compete with each other for position in line with Him. He loves and takes care of us fully and completely, despite our weaknesses and doubts.
When we truly believe that our Redeemer lives, as did Job, we can endure whatever life sets before us. Happiness is transitory and often self indulgent; very few of life’s lessons come out happiness. Our growth comes out of the travel through the valley of the shadow. My brother Greg is gaining emotional and spiritual strength, but his body is still in the shadow as he waits in the hospital. Thank you for your continued prayers that he will know God is lovingly present, walking with him through this time.
My brother Greg has experienced God’s hand is stopping his internal bleeding, and providing him with a highly skilled vascular surgeon who was able to seal the two nicks in Greg’s superior mesenteric artery through laparoscopic surgery. Greg needs continued prayers that the blood thinner he needs to maintain his mechanical heart valve will reach the right levels, and that he will gain physical, emotional, and spiritual strength as the days go on.
I shared with Greg the February 16th selection from Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.” Chambers words are what we all need to realize: “God does not give us an overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.” The power of life comes from God, but we need to continue to reach out to him–for life not merely now, but for eternal life.