I feel the pain but cannot find the benefit.
The path I would have chosen seemed a better fit.
Yet tests portend the sacrifice. I see my wraith
Point to my cross and call me to walk forth by faith.
Faith does not promise answers, bids me follow still;
Points past my understanding to the Father’s will;
Grounds hope not in the knowing but in being known;
Endures uncertainty certain of heaven’s throne.
Faith fixes focus not on the ephemeral
But finds eternal joy within the temporal.
It lays aside success and loss for higher gain
And trusts the one who gives and takes to justly reign.
Obedience bids me to die to self in this,
To trust the process in this brief parenthesis.
The work you do is good, as it shall always be.
Steadfast unto perfection is the course for me.
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
We live in a culture of busy Christians. I read stories of the stresses of pastoral ministry driving pastors away from the church and into sinful lifestyles. I hear the struggles of my fellow seminarians as they attempt to juggle the demands of school and ministry and work, often walking the edge of burnout as they long for rest. I understand the weight of many responsibilities, often feeling both burdened by the load yet unable to slow down. We whose lives are marked by busyness would do well to remind ourselves of Jesus’s words on the subject of obedience.
I’ve been painfully aware of my weaknesses lately. Continue reading
I wonder what went through John’s mind as he sat in prison. He’d answered the call of the Lord in the wilderness, proclaiming the kingdom of God and baptizing the repentant (Luke 3:1-22). He’d prepared the way for the Messiah, introducing the Christ at the beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry (John 1:29-36). He’d faithfully stood for righteousness in the face of Herod’s immorality (Matthew 14:4). And yet he found himself imprisoned. The crowds he once taught left him to follow Jesus (John 3:26). While John found joy in humbly playing his role in the bridegroom’s story (John 3:27-30), he seems to have struggled with doubt while in prison, for he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask an important question.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Presence can make the act of sitting through a terrifying movie more bearable. Presence can make a nervous child more courageous. Presence can strengthen and encourage in powerful ways.
Presence can also cause a tempted eye to avoid the glance. Presence can make a child who’s considering disobedience choose to obey. Presence can remind and convict in powerful ways.
I’ve always been a bit fascinated with fear. When I was little, when the mildest frights could send me running, I still looked forward to October and to Halloween, the decorations, the costumes, and the spooky movies on the Disney channel each captivating my interest. In literature, I loved reading Edgar Allan Poe with his mastery of the macabre. Even in Batman cartoons and video games, I found myself enjoying the stories with Scarecrow more than the stories with many of the other villains. Fear, in a way, has been a lifelong interest.
Allow me to set the scene for you.
Moses, the legendary leader of Israel, is dead. The wanderers have returned once more after forty long years to the edge of the promised land. Only the Jordan river lies between them and their inheritance. As Moses’ life drew to a close, a younger, God-fearing man named Joshua stepped up to claim the mantle as the leader of the people of God. Israel now stands on the cusp of a new journey, a journey full of war and grace. Continue reading
Let me learn to love your voice.
Help me look to things above.
Save me from the selfish choice.
Show me how to walk in love.
Lead me in the way of truth.
Break me from the idol’s hold.
Keep me from the lusts of youth.
Make me, for your kingdom, bold.
Help me keep my vision clear.
Make me humble, meek, and pure.
Help me know that you are near.
Let me, for your name, endure.
Make me always quick to give.
Let me ever testify.
Teach me how to truly live.
Teach me how to truly die.
Let me be found faithful
In the task at hand,
Working so to never earn
A word of reprimand.
Let me always listen
To the Master’s voice,
Never speaking ill of him,
But learning to rejoice.
Let me walk in wisdom
Each and every day,
Knowing that apart from Christ
There is no other way.
Let me know my limits,
My true state to see,
Resting in the love of God
In sweet humility.
Let me walk in freedom,
Nevermore to sin,
Following my Savior till
I die to live again.