Please share how you plan to respond to your Christmas Gift. I would love to hear from you!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives ALL my sin, who heals all my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit, who crowns me with His steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies me with good so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ….
When I sit to read God’s word this morning, it envelopes me with it’s deliciousness. I want to rush through the chapters and gorge on it, but the richness, and deep sweetness is found in tiny increments for me to savour and contemplate as I read each word, each phrase, each line. [For instance, I just love how many hundreds of times I see the word, “steadfast” used before the word “love”, when describing God’s love towards me.]
My heart pounds as I read aloud in this empty room, the words of Psalm 103…. when I get to talk to the angels who stand in God’s presence and do his bidding…I want to shout…shout loud enough to reach across the expanse of all creation so as to reach the ears of every last one of them and command them to bless the Lord with me!! “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers who do his will!”
I like to think about the little crickets and clouds, the trees and wildflowers and stars all hearing me tell them to bless God with me. “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion…”
By the time I reach the next to the last phrase of the Psalm, instead of shouting, my eyes are filled with tears and my voice quiets and faulters. I find myself at just a raspy whisper as I return to the final words: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” I realize how very small I am in the scope of all creation and eternity. If the angels are busy and don’t pay me any heed, if the stars have all fallen asleep, if the cacophony of the traffic drowns out the sound of my voice so the wildflowers and trees and crickets don’t join me….even if I am all alone in this tiny corner of the earth, I will bless the Lord, with a full heart and overflowing soul.
BLESS THE LORD, O MY SOUL, AND ALL THAT IS WITHIN ME BLESS HIS HOLY NAME!
In 1900, an uprising in China against Christians and evangelical churches claimed some 32,000 lives. The Shanxi Province was a particularly dangerous place to openly follow Christ. Lizzie Atwater, a young pregnant missionary there, wrote a final letter to her parents on August 3, 1900:
“Dear Ones, I long for a sight of your dear faces, but I fear we shall not meet on earth… I am preparing for the end very quietly and calmly. The Lord is wonderfully near, and He will not fail me. I was very restless and excited while there seemed a chance of life, but God has taken away that feeling, and now I just pray for grace to meet the terrible end bravely. The pain will soon be over, and oh the sweetness of the welcome above!
My little baby will go with me. I think God will give it to me in Heaven, and my dear mother will be so glad to see us. I cannot imagine the Savior’s welcome. Oh, that will compensate for all of these days of suspense. Dear ones, live near to God and cling less closely to earth. There is no other way by which we can receive that peace from God which passeth understanding…. I must keep calm and still these hours. I do not regret coming to China, but am sorry I have done so little. My married life, two precious years, have been so very full of happiness. We will die together, my dear husband and I.
I used to dread separation. If we escape now it will be a miracle. I send my love to all of you, and the dear friends who remember me.”
Lizzie saw eternity. Twelve days after her letter was written, on August 15, 1900, Lizzie Atwater, her unborn baby, and six other missionaries were hacked to death by their guards.
May God give us the same courage, and his peace that passes understanding during the uncertain times we live in. If you don’t know Jesus, please write me and let me introduce you. We are in very precarious times. You need all the courage and help God has available for you.
“The difference between shallow happiness
and deep sustaining joy is sorrow.”
John Milton (1604-1674)
Years ago, a friend gave me the book, “Broken In the Right Place” by Alan Nelson. I didn’t like reading about being broken, but today I can testify to the validity of the book. He begins by describing the most beautiful, wild stallion. In all it’s glory, it is strong and proud and free. It rules over the other horses just by it’s powerful presence. It is a glorious sight! Everyone who looks on is in awe, as it bucks and prances and revels in its elegance.
Yes, yes, yes!!! ….so why couldn’t he just have stopped there? I would like that so much better….but he asks the question. “How useful is that horse to it’s master?”
Uh, I guess it is useful for breeding, but it can’t be ridden or used for any helpful tasks. It will never be in tune with a rider or know how to take instruction to go anywhere specific. To the master it has far less value than the broken horse next to it.
Pain. Discipline. Rebuke. Work. Training. More pain. These are the elements required to make any self-willed, strong-willed animal usable to a master. Thankfully, we are not just like horses, and our Master is gentle and most patient. He leads us and trains us carefully, but he does break us. We get to choose to put ourselves into his care in the first place. And we get to choose our response to his “breaking” of us. By nature, it could be easy to respond to him with bitterness, hurt feelings, and temper tantrums. But if we trust him, if we believe it is for our good, if we know that it will lead ultimately to our happiness and usefulness to him, we can let him break us and carry us while we heal correctly. We can accept his comfort and companionship through the process, and something supernatural will begin to happen. Our spirit, and His spirit begin to communicate, and come in tune with one another.
Serendipity. Gentleness. Courage. Strength. Grace. Usefulness to the Master. These are just a few of the results that come from allowing him to break us….in the right places.
Oh, somehow Father, break me in the right places and make me useful and pleasurable to you!