*And to the earth it gave great light*
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)
Here’s the thing about light: it reveals.
Sometimes we would really rather not see the things it reveals especially if those revealed things are in the lives of people we trust to be shining examples for us. When light reveals our own errors and faulty thinking, those embarrassing weaknesses hidden from even ourselves, we want to squirm in shame. Light can be uncomfortable.
But God is merciful, and willing to exchange the lies we have believed for truth. If we avoid kicking them into another dark corner or assigning their ownership to someone else, but rather own up to them, he is willing to show us a better way. He is faithful and just. He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Yesterday an error on my part was revealed to me by a man in a car with flashing lights on top. It was not a deliberate disobedience of the law, but nevertheless a serious oversight on my part and I was extremely embarrassed by it. Mortified. My first response, when the light shone upon it, was to want to make excuses, but the better response was to say, “Yes, Sir,” and go get the problem fixed before I went any further. So I did. Today I my conscience is clear and I am actually glad that he stopped me when he did, before something much worse happened. (And to all my friends and acquaintances who drove by while the man in uniform and I chatted on the side of the road and then he gave me a ride in the back of his squad car –”Hi there!”)
Repentance means to turn around. Change. Have a different thought.
What we are telling you now is the very message we heard from Him:
God is pure light, undimmed by darkness of any kind.
If we say we have an intimate connection with the Father but we continue stumbling around in darkness,
then we are lying because we do not live according to truth.
If we walk step by step in the light,
where the Father is,
then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son.
His blood purifies us from all our sins.
If we go around bragging, “We have no sin,”
then we are fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth.
But if we own up to our sins,
God shows that He is faithful and just
by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us
from the pollution of all the bad things we have done.
(1 John 1:5-9)
*Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled* -Charles Wesley
There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. A relationship can only be restored when there is honesty on both parts. We can offer forgiveness to people who have harmed us, but if they do not acknowledge a need to be forgiven, the relationship is not healed. The same goes for the forgiveness God offers us. If we do not admit our need for forgiveness and insist on a no-fault clause in our settlement, there is no actual reconciliation. Our hearts will remain unchanged. Peace is the result of an honest response to God’s mercy.
Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7b)
My Daddy could sing. His voice was as warm and comforting as the man who sang this song on the record we played at Christmas time. Daddy never sang a solo anywhere that I recall. His concerts were just for the family.
Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.
- Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
*Let every heart prepare him room*
I do love to watch friends and family crowd the doors in the airport terminal building as they wait to embrace new arrivals. Yesterday at the airport I thought about the preparations needed for a plane to land. The ground is leveled, paved, and lit. Air traffic controllers, setting up various sensitive instruments, watch the skies. Airport workers clear the run-way, and prepare to move baggage carts, set wheel blocks, and at our little airport, get ready to secure stairs to the aircraft door.
I tried to imagine what people who populated this valley a hundred years ago would have thought if they saw a light in the sky grow bigger and move toward them in the clearing. Would they run toward it, or away from it?
I asked myself, “Self? If you saw something beyond your usual experience approaching, would you run toward it or away from it?
Honestly, I would probably yell, “Run away! Run away!” and head for a cave with wifi so I could research it.
I know some adventurous people who run toward new experiences. Sometimes it works well for them, and other times…. Still, I admire their fearlessness, their raw faith, and their willingness to risk making mistakes — and honest admissions when they miss it.
Preparing room in our hearts and heads for the presence of God, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, whose ways are greater than our ways, who is there and is not silent, requires preparation. Making room sometimes requires bulldozing established forests of old ideas and creating a landing-place for something that hasn’t arrived yet.
The Advent season reminds us of a time when the world, tired of sinful darkness, waited in anticipation of something more. The prophets told them something more was coming, but it was difficult to comprehend what the Messiah would look like. The scholars of the day had clues in the Book, but they still got it completely wrong, and humility demands that we admit even though the Bible is central, trustworthy and sufficient, we might not have the complete interpretation either. Maybe the people who take the risk of running toward a deeper understanding of the nature and plans of God are just ones who are trying to prepare Him room.
Abba, may I anticipate your plans with the same enthusiasm.
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining…
And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money-grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, uncaring, coldhearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self-importance, and given to loving pleasure more than they love God.
Even though they may look or act like godly people, they’re not.
They deny His power.
I tell you: Stay away from the likes of these.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Apathy is not peace.
Pleasure is not joy.
Control is not order.
Tolerance is not love.
Self-sufficiency is not sufficient.
I ask no other sunshine, than the sunshine of Your face, oh Lord. Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel!
A shout of joy
comes in the morning
I had a dream a few weeks ago. I went to an A & W restaurant and ordered food for myself and friends at the counter. The girl said they would bring it to me when it was ready. Instead of tables and chairs, the restaurant had beds (hey, it was a dream). Since I felt tired I lay down and took a nap. It seemed like a long nap, but when my order was ready I got up and went to pay for it with a credit card. That’s when I discovered a $50 bill in my wallet I didn’t realize I had. It easily covered the cost.
An ordinary kind of dream, but I felt like I should pay attention, so I wrote it down in my dream journal. As I did I remembered that when I was a teenager, with a brand new driver’s license, my friends and I would borrow Daddy’s car and go to the drive-in where the car-hops wore brown and orange parkas – the A & W. We jokingly called it “The Ask and Wait,” although the service was probably faster than most other places. I made a note in my journal and promptly forgot about it, until a few days ago.
Right after this dream my dear friend suddenly became critically ill with a perforated ulcer (a hole in her stomach). She said it was the most painful thing she had ever experienced. I rushed back from Alberta to be with her. The first emergency surgery looked like a success, but it wasn’t. Instead of being released from hospital after a few days, she landed in ICU with complications and then found out, when she tried to eat some apple sauce, that the hole was still there. After several unpleasant invasive procedures the plan was to wait. So she waited. We prayed and she waited some more.
The hole was still there. I felt so badly for her laying in bed, unable to eat, hooked up to I.V.s and various uncomfortable tubes, watching room mates arrive, recover and leave. Then I remembered the dream -ask and wait, and you might as well get a good rest while you’re waiting. So her friends and husband and I prayed and asked the Lord for healing, and waited together, and learned to rest in God’s love. (She was better at it than I was, but I wasn’t sedated.)
Finally doctors proposed a more drastic surgery that would remove part of her stomach and intestine and scheduled another surgery. After it was postponed due to other emergencies with priority for the O.R., one of the specialists ordered another test to check on the size of the hole. This time the message was good: no hole found. It had closed “on its own.”
I think finding the $50 in my wallet was about finding unearned provision -God’s grace when we needed it.
Learning to rest in the middle of trouble is not a natural response for me -nor is shouting for joy. My upbringing valued decorum more highly than emotional expression. I’m more likely to fold my program into smaller and smaller squares at an exciting sports event than I am to actually cheer out loud. My friend’s Norwegian reserve is even greater than my Anglo/Germanic decorum (although I have seen her dance in the aisles on occasion) but we celebrated with shouts of joy that would not disturb the patient in the next bed -and gave thanks on American Thanksgiving with a feast of blue jello.
Thank you, Lord!
Permit me some joyful cyber-shouting: GOD IS GOOD!!!!!
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Ask and wait. He is faithful.
Some Thorns Come With Roses
The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one’s attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. -Francis Frangipane