These are probably my favorite shoes…at least today. I have literally worn them out so completely that the duct tape you see is only covering holes in my soles – not really doing much to protect my foot. But you can’t see this important detail when you’re just looking down at my shoes.
Today, when I admitted to myself that I really need to dumpster these beauties, it occurred to me just how much they resemble the way we are sometimes.
We can look all pretty on the outside, making everyone think we’re just fine, while our souls seem to be held together with duct tape. The wounds may be hidden, but they are very real. I encourage you, don’t let yourself stay in such a condition. God is there, and He doesn’t just patch us up; He makes us new.
A friend used to tell her children, as they walked out the door, “Remember whose kid you are.” She wasn’t talking about herself, but God. When we keep in mind the fact that GOD is our FATHER, it changes us. It changes the way we think, the way we act, who we are.
So who IS our Father? Today, my Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/LifeWay) inspired me to do something I’ve never done before. I added the words “my Father” to a passage…and it seriously brought the Word’s message home in a whole new way.
Psalm 24:1-10 (ESV)
“The earth is my Father’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for my Father founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord my Father? Who may stand in my Father’s holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from my Father the Lord, and vindication from my Father God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek my Father, who seek Your face, my Father, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is this King of glory? My Father, the Lord strong and mighty, my Father, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – my Father – he is the King of glory.”
THAT is who your Father is, child of God, and don’t you forget it.
I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.
A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.
And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.
In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?
Psalm 119:111 (ESV): Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
God’s Word is the one thing I can invest in that is eternal. I know the “lay up treasures” verse isn’t exactly talking about The Word, but it still applies. If my goal is to get ready for eternity, then I should practice today what I will be doing a thousand years from now – obey whatever God says, fully and forever.
God’s Word IS my heritage forever! Unlike a trust, which can be broken and the money done away with, God’s Word will never “run out” and cannot be taken away from me. Even were armed men to come in and remove every Bible from my home. The Word I have planted in my heart is THERE, and there it will remain, providing a continual return on my investment.
I’m going through the Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/Lifeway) with friends, and we’re studying Psalm 119. I’m also, in my private time, working my way through Job yet again. It is amazing how much the two books teach me the same lesson.
“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.” Psalm 119:92-95 (ESV)
These verses also reflect a truth about Job. He could have written them, in fact. Job’s delight was in God’s precepts. They were more important to him than food. They were the most important thing in his life.
This passion is why his faith was so great that it prompted God to bring Job to the devil’s attention, and even though Job slipped near the end of the trial, the foundation that was his faith kept him from going under.
After all was said and done, it could have been Job who declared, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
In our Flourish journey, we are sharing what God teaches us, and I love how He gives each of us our own, personal lessons while we study the same words. So far, my lessons have all revolved around this point: The Word is paramount, and making it the focal point of my life is essential. It’s not that I CAN immerse myself in it and make it a part of me; it’s that I MUST immerse myself in it and make it a part of me.
Everything else that seems important will eventually disappear. Only one is eternal: God’s Word. (1 Peter 1:24-25) That alone should be enough to make us realize how vital it is to our very lives.
Only a short distance from this bridge, over which I’ve passed numerous times through the years, lies the entrance to New Hope Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with a fascinating collection of aged headstones. This is a rustic cemetery and it holds the earthly remains of some of my nearest and dearest.
Too many times, we’ve followed a hearse over this bridge, taking a loved one to their final resting place. Several times, we’ve crossed the bridge to visit the graves of those we’ve not seen in so very long. The last time I was there–the day I took this picture–we were “visiting” Mother.
You’d think this bridge would represent loss to me, would inspire pain, but it doesn’t. Why?
The answer lies in the cemetery’s name–New Hope. Yes, we’ve laid our loved ones to rest here, but I know that in each and every case they were born again and destined for Heaven. For them, and those of us who expectantly wait to see them again, this place offers hope indeed–hope of that new life, true LIFE that will never end–eternal life in the very presence of God, surrounded by those we love so much…HOME.
So this picture shows a path of hope, a man-made construct that bridges the past and that glorious future as we follow the road home.
I once read that Smith Wigglesworth, who had a phenomenal ministry, never read any books other than the Bible.
On the one hand, this is hard to conceive. The amount of material that was available to the avid reader, even in his day, is staggering. Could one really turn aside from all of it? On the other hand, the Word is so rich, so full, that I often feel like the time I spend in it is too short, that my morning alarm going off is a rude interruption.
And I have seen evidence, in me, of what Wigglesworth talked about. He contended that faith is based on knowledge of Who God is, and that we gain this knowledge as we are in His Word. In fact, he said, “if you see imperfect faith – full of doubt, a wavering condition – it always comes of imperfect knowledge.”
That makes so much sense! My faith is stronger today than it has ever been. Yes, it grows as it is tried and strengthened, much like a muscle grows under the same conditions, but it grows as it does because it is rooted in my ever-increasing knowledge of Who God is.
Staying in the Word really is a necessity for the one who wants ever-increasing faith.