A Thin Quiet

Whether it comes through a miracle, science, medicine, or nature’s natural progression, we all anticipate what it will feel like to hear the words “the pandemic is over.” We have complete faith that we WILL hear it. What we don’t know is if it will take six more weeks, six more months, or six more years. (God forbid!)

In the meantime, we hide in our caves and wait.

In our scripture today, we find Elijah hiding in a cave, fearing for his life. He has been chased there by the anti God-ers who have murdered the prophets and are now after him.

1 Kings 19 (Common English Version)

There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The Lord’s word came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire.

We look to the strong winds of science to relieve us, but that hasn’t been accomplished just yet. We sit through an earthquake of medical advancements toward a vaccine, but so far, no joy. Even the fire of public policy that requires masks, hand-washing, lockdowns, and 6 feet of social distancing hasn’t eradicated this virus from the earth. Are all these things capable of slowing the rising curve? Yes. Is it happening fast enough? No.

After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

I think this is how the pandemic will end. Science and medicine are making great strides. Public policy is slowing things down and keeping us safe. But after throwing every human resource known to man toward solving it with a great show of wind, earth-moving, and fire, we still aren’t there yet. There will be a moment where God will speak it out of existence in a thin, quiet voice. But will we be able to hear him? In the end, as it is with everything that matters, we need God to save us.

14 He said, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.”

God’s thin, quiet word saved Elijah. His thin, quiet word will save us, too. We just need to shut up all the SHOUTING at each other long enough to listen.

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back through the desert to Damascus and anoint Hazael as king of Aram. 16 Also anoint Jehu, Nimshi’s son, as king of Israel; and anoint Elisha from Abel-meholah, Shaphat’s son, to succeed you as prophet. 17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill. Whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I have preserved those who remain in Israel, totaling seven thousand—all those whose knees haven’t bowed down to Baal and whose mouths haven’t kissed him.”

God preserves those who remain faithful and wait. Will you be numbered among the faithful?

Quiet Daybreak by Wende Pritchard

When Songs are Silent

A few weeks ago I attended my conference’s Clergy Executive Session via ZOOM. This is an annual meeting where we affirm the commissioning and ordaining of new pastors, remember pastors who have died in the past year, receive reports of those who have chosen to go on leave or exit the denomination, etc. I logged in as I was finishing an outdoor class at my YMCA and the opening session began as I was driving home.

This was not a good plan. I was traveling on our busy bypass when all of a sudden a gorgeous baritone voice came through my phone. He began to sing “Be Thou My Vision.”

My favorite hymn.

When the bishop introduced him, she invited us to sing along from our multiple locations across Georgia and beyond.

I began to sing and immediately started to cry. It wasn’t just a finger-dabbing kind of crying; it was a full blown shoulder-shuddering, snot-flowing sob. This is not a good thing to do while driving on a busy summer day of beach traffic.

Singing is a beautiful, cathartic, uplifting, soul-stirring way to connect with the Holy Spirit. Somehow songs poke us in a place where we don’t usually get poked. Music resonates deep in our core, where we remember our mothers gently rocking and humming us to sleep and our daddies singing silly songs with us on long car rides.

Psalms are both painful and healing to me right now. They are painful in that they were written to be sung out loud on a journey with other pilgrims, which of course we can’t do right now. But they are also healing because I know that there WILL come a time when we can sing together again in large groups. Lord, hasten that day!

But for today, we sing silently with our eyes.

Psalm 105 (Common English Bible)

Give thanks to the Lord;
    call upon his name;
    make his deeds known to all people!
Sing to God;
    sing praises to the Lord;
    dwell on all his wondrous works!

Everyone I know, myself included, is hitting a wall right now. The mask wars, the number of COVID cases continuing to rise, remote learning gearing up to start (causing great stress for teachers, parents, and kids), waiting for days on end for COVID test results to come back, cabin fever, fears for our livelihood, sorrow over the 700,000 deaths worldwide, the lack of healthy social interaction…it is all getting to us. Tempers are fragile, friendships are frayed, families are not speaking to each other, and we need help. We need hope. We especially need to remind each other of the wondrous works God has done, is doing, and will do again.

Give praise to God’s holy name!
    Let the hearts rejoice of all those seeking the Lord!
Pursue the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always!
Remember the wondrous works he has done,
    all his marvelous works, and the justice he declared—
    you who are the offspring of Abraham, his servant,
        and the children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

When singing brings only tears, it is time to give silent praise. When a simple conversation provokes an angry response, it is time to seek the Lord. When everything you are doing feels overwhelming, remember God’s marvelous works, and let your heart rejoice.

Pursue the Lord and his strength when yours has run out. He will never run out on you.

Sing Songs of Silence by Michelle Robertson

I’m So Mad I Could…

Let’s play a fun “finish-the-sentence” game! Finish this with your favorite response: I’m so mad I could….

Spit Nails.

Punch someone in the throat.

Scream.

Snatch you bald. (OK, that’s a southern one…)

I began a five-mile run with my partner yesterday with one or more of these sentences. My aggravation was a familiar one. I had been without internet for five days after spending the entire first day getting no satisfaction from the 1-800-WEDON’TCARE internet provider.

I finally got an appointment five days later and when they showed up, the problem was just as I had predicted. The surveyors who surveyed the lot next door had driven a spike through my line. Which I knew and had tried to explain to the agent I spoke to after an HOUR of working through the automated call system. An agent who was reading from a script. So even though I knew the problem, I still had to “unplug, then replug the modem after waiting five minutes” at least three times in order to satisfy her. Only to find out that she doesn’t actually make the appointments…you have to wait for the local dispatcher to call and make one with you. Three days later. For five days out. Oy vey!

So as I was venting about this to my partner, I realized that my feelings of frustration and anger were expressing themselves by verbalizing aggression. All of my chosen idioms connected my displeasure with a physical act.

It is so easy for anger to take hold of your heart. And what takes hold of your heart can easily come out in your actions.

So here is your challenge for today. Read this beautiful Psalm and get IT into your heart.

Let’s pause for a moment…what is in your heart right now? Are you aggravated? Hopeless? In despair? Wanting to give up? Feeling mad about everything? Dreading remote school starting again? Ready for this stupid pandemic to be over?

If you leave those things in your heart all day, no good will come of it.

Psalm 145 (Common English Bible)

    “The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    very patient, and full of faithful love.
    The Lord is good to everyone and everything;
    God’s compassion extends to all his handiwork!”

The Lord is patient and merciful. Think about it! He is putting up with ALL of our nonsense, and still he is full of faithful love. Amazing. And by his own hand, our desires are satisfied. He cares for all of his creation so much he even died on the cross for it. Can you imagine a love like that? How can we stay mad?

Listen, anger is a normal thing. It’s all right to be angry when something goes wrong. But it is never good to stay angry. That only hurts your own heart.

The Lord supports all who fall down,
    straightens up all who are bent low.
15 All eyes look to you, hoping,
    and you give them their food right on time,
16     opening your hand
    and satisfying the desire of every living thing.


17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
    faithful in all his deeds.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who calls out to him,
    to all who call out to him sincerely.
19 God shows favor to those who honor him,
    listening to their cries for help and saving them
.

This Psalm reminds us that we are God’s hands and feet in the world and we are invited to show the kindness and thoughtfulness that marks us as God-followers. It is OUR job to support all who fall down and are bent low. I don’t know about you, but when I’m mad at the internet company, I don’t have any kindness in me for anyone. Forgive me, Lord. Take away my selfishness so that I might be of use to you!

How can you reflect God’s compassion and patience today? Who needs your saving touch? Where can you extend mercy instead of frustration? God listens to his people’s cries for help….it’s up to us to listen with him. Come Lord, and empty out our hearts so that we might be filled with faithful love.

His Faithful Love Endures Forever by Michelle Robertson


Thirsty?

Thirst is an issue in these dog days of summer. Being outside for even a nano-second (with mascara melting and sunglasses fogging) is an instant dehydrator. Here on the Outer Banks the relentless heat index has made us feel as though we are living on the surface of the sun. Just getting to the car to go grocery shopping is thirsty work.

Have you ever considered the things people thirst after that aren’t hydration? Some people thirst after fame. Some thirst after power. Some thirst for wealth. Others for equality and inclusion. Some things are worthy of our thirst and others are frivolous. We can either drink the clear and healthy water that sustains us and helps us thrive, or we can try to satisfy ourselves with sugary soda pop. God has created us to know a good thirst from a bad one, and to seek to satisfy that thirst with healthy things rather than waste our resources on things that will never satiate us.

But we still keep reaching for the soda pop.

God has a better offer.

Isaiah 55 (Contemporary English Version)

If you are thirsty,
    come and drink water!
If you don’t have any money,
    come, eat what you want!
Drink wine and milk
    without paying a cent.
Why waste your money
    on what really isn’t food?
Why work hard for something
    that doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me,
and you will enjoy
    the very best foods.

I think the conflict we face is between taking a quick and easy fix for our problems or accepting the free grace and mercy that the Lord offers.

I know a woman who is struggling in her marriage. Her alcohol consumption exacerbates the situation. She knows that. Night after night she chooses to drink, which causes her to say critical and harsh things to her spouse. She recognizes that she is invited to drink from the Living Water that is Christ, who offers patience, perseverance, and forgiveness, but that would require sobriety. Christ alone is able to quench her thirst, but instead she drinks from the wasteful bottle of avoidance and anger, which will never, ever satisfy.

Pay close attention!
    Come to me and live.
I will promise you
the eternal love and loyalty
    that I promised David.
I made him the leader and ruler
of the nations;
    he was my witness to them.

No matter what you are thirsting after today, God has an unlimited well of goodness that is offered without price. His healing mercies flow from the font of the resurrection. When you drink freely of the water he has to offer, you will be blessed with a life that provides the very best foods of peace, wholeness, and contentment.

Thirsty? Try Jesus. Come to him and live and you will receive the eternal love and loyalty he offers to all. When you drink the Living Water you will never be thirsty again.

The Thirsty Come by Kathy Schumacher

Abundance

One of the interesting things about life is negotiating the personalities of individual members in a group. In families, offices, institutions, and churches, people fall into different and sometimes opposing categories when it comes to taking a risk. Some are optimists, some are pessimists, some are risk-takers, others have a serious aversion to taking chances, some are followers, and some are leaders. If you ever want to see this in action, attend your church’s Finance Committee meeting. As the saying goes, “it takes all kinds.”

To put it another way, some are Tiggers and some are Eeyores. Tiggers see abundance. Eeyores see scarcity. One’s ability to take risks is firmly grounded in which one you are.

I fall into the risk-taking, glass always full, Pollyanna-lives-in-my-soul category, so I am always grateful to be balanced by the risk-averse folks who keep us in line and counsel caution. But sometimes God’s plan involves taking great leaps of faith.

I love the interplay between Jesus the risk-taker and the disciples, who are seriously risk-averse in this well-known story about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

Matthew 13 (Contemporary English Version)

13 After Jesus heard about John, he crossed Lake Galilee to go to some place where he could be alone. But the crowds found out and followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd. He felt sorry for them and healed everyone who was sick.

Jesus saw the sick and felt sorry for them. What a beautiful statement of who Jesus is. He had tried to get away from the hustle and bustle of Messiah-life, and was probably feeling very burned out. I can relate, and I bet you can, too. If we all had a chance right now to get away to a place by the lake to just rest, I bet we would cherish that. But Jesus, ever mindful of people’s needs, tended to the large crowd.

15 That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is like a desert, and it is already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the villages and buy some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They don’t have to leave. Why don’t you give them something to eat?”

Here is the risk-taker at work. He tells the disciples that the people don’t have to leave because the disciples can give them something to eat. The Eeyores in the group looked at each other and likely thought the same thing: “W-W-With what??”

Jesus was teaching them to appreciate what they had and realize that everything we have is subject to multiplication. The trick is to offer it to the One who will multiply it for our good.

17 But they said, “We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish.” 18 Jesus asked his disciples to bring the food to him, 19 and he told the crowd to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and handed it to his disciples, and they gave it to the people.

In the Savior’s hands, the meager resources are offered to heaven and blessed. They provided so much food that there is an abundance of twelve large baskets of leftovers. God is never a God of scarcity, but always a God of abundance.

20 After everyone had eaten all they wanted, Jesus’ disciples picked up twelve large baskets of leftovers.

21 There were about five thousand men who ate, not counting the women and children.

The question for us today is, where are YOU offering your resources? Don’t be fooled. Just as the Lord can multiply what you offer him, so too can the Enemy. If all you offer is hate, violence, anger, selfishness, and vitriol, you can be sure the Enemy will take that and multiply it in a hurry.

But when you offer love, compassion, prayer, generosity, and peace, heaven will bless and multiply that in great abundance.

The choice is yours. What’s in your basket?

God’s Daily Abundance by Michelle Robertson

For the Good

A very long time ago, I worked for a wonderful church that went through a major building project. We purchased 63 acres of land three miles from our building and built a second campus with a thousand-seat worship center. Just months before we took occupancy of the building, the congregation was invited to write their favorite scripture on the concrete floor before the carpet was laid. Folks were encouraged to figure out where they would probably sit in the new sanctuary (based on where they sat every Sunday in the current one) and write their scripture in that spot. See! We understand how important “your pew” is to you!

The other pastors and I chose a place in the front where we anticipated sitting. I took the big Sharpie pen and wrote, “For God can use ALL things for the good of those who love him, and who are called to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I left that church 11 years ago, and those words are still there on the floor. I have experienced the truth of that scripture all of my life. No matter what comes our way….death, cancer, job loss, estrangement, pandemics….God can use those things for our GOOD.

If we let him.

And that’s the point.

Let’s back up a moment and look at that verse in its context:

Romans 8 (Contemporary English Version)

26 In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27 All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people.

The power of these two verses is profound.

When we are weak, the Spirit is here to help.

When we don’t know how to pray, all we have to do is groan.

God knows our thoughts at all times.

He understands what the Holy Spirit is doing…and what the Holy Spirit is doing is praying the prayer you can’t form the words to say.

Feel better yet?

 28 We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.

Here is the trick. God is always at work for our good, but we have to yield to his understanding of what is good. We have to train ourselves to have the faith and humility to lay down our concept of “good” in exchange for his.

When I left that church, I was convinced it wasn’t a good thing. I was wrong. When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I knew no good would come of it. Good things did come. When this horrific pandemic hit, I gave up all hope that there would be anything good in life again. Yet all around me I see evidence to the contrary. I see people reaching out to help others in ways they NEVER would have done in their pre-pandemic busyness. I see families slowing down and spending quality time with each other. I see ingenuity, creativity, compassion, and scientific understanding growing exponentially. People are reading more scripture and experiencing the presence of God in new and surprising ways. And as a nation, we are confronting and discussing centuries-old issues that we have suppressed for way too long. Do we see a lot of bad right now? Absolutely. But yielding to God’s understanding of “good” requires that we see beyond the bad.

Need more convincing? How about this:

Because we are driving less, places like Washington DC, Los Angeles, and cities in China are reporting the cleanest air they have seen in decades.

Less large ship traffic in the waters is providing relief during the annual migration of sound-sensitive animals such as humpback whales.

Walmart just announced they will be closed this Thanksgiving. Folks, that is not only good, it’s a miracle!

So is the pandemic good? Oh, heck no. But can God use bad things for our good in some way? Yes. Even in this horrific time, God is still and always will be working for our good.

Where can you claim the good today? What one thing has gotten better since this started? What aspect of your life would you not go back to when the pandemic is lifted?

Think on those things, and ponder them in your heart today.

Quiet at the Docks by Michelle Robertson

Twinz

I will never forget where I was when we found out that my oldest daughter was expecting twins. My husband and I were with our youngest and her husband on a bus that had just broken down at Disney World. (!) We were pulling off to the median when the phone call came in. I knew she was having an ultrasound that afternoon and was I excited to hear about the pregnancy and maybe get a hint of the gender. Then her chin started to quiver and she said, “Mom, we’re expecting twins.”

“Twins!! You’re having twins???” I looked up at the startled passengers around me and yelled, “SHE’S HAVING TWINS!!” Many congratulations followed as we waited for a new bus to arrive, and anyone who had a twin story came over to tell it.

In the book of Genesis, twins are announced with far less fanfare and hopeful expectations. Rebekah discovered that she is carrying twins, but even in the beginning, it is obvious that these twins would not be ordinary babies…

Genesis 25 (The Message)

21-23 Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children tumbled and kicked inside her so much that she said, “If this is the way it’s going to be, why go on living?” She went to God to find out what was going on. God told her,

Two nations are in your womb,
    two peoples butting heads while still in your body.
One people will overpower the other,
    and the older will serve the younger.

If you are following your Bible history, you will recognize this as the moment the two nations of the Israelites (Jacob) and the Edomites (Esau) were born. Through deceit and trickery, a birthright was manipulated and indeed, the older ended up serving the younger.

24-26 When her time to give birth came, sure enough, there were twins in her womb. The first came out reddish, as if snugly wrapped in a hairy blanket; they named him Esau (Hairy). His brother followed, his fist clutched tight to Esau’s heel; they named him Jacob (Heel). Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

27-28 The boys grew up. Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman. Jacob was a quiet man preferring life indoors among the tents. Isaac loved Esau because he loved his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29-30 One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew—I’m starved!” That’s how he came to be called Edom (Red).

31 Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.”

32 Esau said, “I’m starving! What good is a birthright if I’m dead?”

33-34 Jacob said, “First, swear to me.” And he did it. On oath Esau traded away his rights as the firstborn. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. He ate and drank, got up and left. That’s how Esau shrugged off his rights as the firstborn.

I read a Jewish commentary on this passage that suggested that the twins also represent the struggle between the flesh/body urges of Esau and the spiritual/soul urges of Jacob. Esau was a boisterous hunter who was out in the field all day involved in physical activity, while Jacob stayed inside reading and studying. It’s an interesting take on the story.

But this passage is a warning about two things.

First, beware of the force of a temptation so strong that it might entice you to sell your birthright as a follower of Christ. When we indulge in our “fleshly” pursuits, we teeter on the precipice of giving up what we have gained in Christ.

And it is also a story about family deceit and preferential treatment. Rebekah’s preference for Jacob leads her to become a co-conspirator against her other son and her husband. Isaac’s preference for Esau was resented very much by Jacob, who retaliated by manipulating Esau into foregoing his birthright. This brother-against-brother conflict led them all to lie and cheat their own family members.

What can you glean from this story? I think it calls us to confront our own battles with physical temptations, and ask God to help us remain strong in pursuing healthy behaviors. And it calls us to address our family relationships and honestly assess our own behavior to see if we, too, might be guilty of emotional preferences, manipulation, lying to get our own way, or cheating others out of their place.

If Genesis 25 were a mirror, how would you look?

Troubled Waters by Michelle Robertson

Foot Lamp

When I was growing up, my family loved to go camping. We started out in a large tent, progressed to a pop-up trailer, and somewhere in my teenage years we upgraded to a travel trailer. We traveled the entire east coast from Canada to Florida as die-hard campers.

Of all the equipment that is essential for campers, I think the flashlight is probably in the top five. Until we finally reached the luxury of owning a travel trailer that had its own “john,” trips to the loo had to be done on foot. Those trips necessitated a flashlight after dark, lest you trip over a rock. Or a snake. Having a foot lamp was essential in these “essential” matters.

Psalm 119 (New King James Version)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
106 I have sworn and confirmed
That I will keep Your righteous judgments.
107 I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.

Are you mentally singing, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path?” You are in good company. I can’t read Psalm 119 without Amy Grant singing in my head:

When I feel afraid
Think I’ve lost my way
Still you’re there right beside me
And nothing will I fear
As long as you are near
Please be near me to the end

Isn’t that an incredible thought? God’s Word provides a light in the darkness of life that illuminates the way. It lights our path and keeps us safe. Scripture shows us how to live and move and have our being. But like a flashlight, it only works when we turn it on and use it.

108 Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
And teach me Your judgments.
109 My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.

Our lives are continually in God’s hand…but can we join with the Psalmist and say that we have not forgotten God’s law? Can we claim that we have not strayed from God’s precepts? Or has there been a little back-slidin’ going on?

Is God shining his light onto a behavior or attitude today that needs attention? Is your heart wandering away from God’s will?

I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering
Jesus be my guide
And hold me to your side
I will love you to the end

Jesus, hold us to your side! Be our guide. We stumble in the dark without you.

111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever,
For they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, to the very end.

Here’s the good news: every day is a new opportunity to get it right. Every morning when we wake up, God offers us a “do-over.” Perhaps that is the light he is shining onto your path right now.

When we follow the path of repentance to Christ’s offer of forgiveness, we too will be revived according to God’s Word. So turn on your light, and let your light so shine that others might see it and be drawn to the Lord.

And a Light Unto My Path by Michelle Robertson

It Will Not Return Empty

Today is a milestone for At Water’s Edge. For over fifteen straight months, five days a week, you and I have shared a passion for reading God’s Word. The 300th devotional was just published, and that is only because YOU have been faithful to read them. Otherwise, there is no point in writing every day.

I believe God’s word goes where it needs to go and says what it needs to say to those who need to hear it. When I sit down every day, I don’t ever worry about what to write. I have faith that God will speak to us on these pages. I am simply the typist. He has never failed to bring forth a message, and when we receive it, he allows it to grow in our hearts.

And that perspective is biblical! Look what showed up in today’s lectionary:

Isaiah 55 (New Revised Standard Version)

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Here is where we can take comfort in knowing that our daily pursuit of scripture intake will bless and prosper us. Even when a passage is challenging or seems to not be relevant, it will show up later in our lives if we are faithful in allowing it to take root where God has planted it.

And the result? Peace. Joy. Everlasting hope.

12 For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

God’s word never returns empty. It plants seeds that grow into sturdy trees of discipleship. And then you take that seed and plant it in someone else’s life, and it grows some more. When we are filled with his Word, we can never be cut off from his love.


13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

So THANK YOU, faithful reader, for going on this crazy journey with me. Thank you for sharing these posts. I cherish you more than you will ever know.

Slow to Anger

Are you slow or quick to anger? Someone I know is VERY quick to anger. Before the offense is even formed in her mind, the explosion is coming out of her mouth. Another person I know is slow to anger. He is thoughtful, measured, and considerate of everyone’s opinions before he responds. Luckily, these two people are married to each other. Isn’t God funny that way?

The thing I appreciate about the one who is quick to anger is that once the explosion is over, she moves on. I have never known her to hold a grudge. There’s something to be said for that.

But those who are slow to anger are more like God himself. And thank God that God is slooooow to anger!! Otherwise we would have all been smote by now…and some of us would have been smote several times over. Deservedly.

That’s what is amazing about God. He never gives us what we deserve, thanks be to God.

Psalm 145 (New Revised Standard Version)

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

Such a wonderful word of reassurance to us today. There probably isn’t one of us who doesn’t need his steadfast love and compassion right about now. Part of the challenge of living through this pandemic is HOLDING OUR TEMPER. If you’re like me, you are feeling especially fragile right now and everything is annoying. My irritation meter is set on High and it is taking all of my self control to not respond to things around me. Do you feel that way?

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your  mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

But the psalmist sets out a bigger picture.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
    and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,
    and raises up all who are bowed down.

The Lord indeed raises up all who are bowed down under the pressures of life. And he holds us up as we are falling. Take a moment to feel his arms around you, supporting you in your stumbles and struggles.

Sometime today, this week, or maybe in the next five minutes, you will feel annoyed. That annoyance will want to express itself in anger.

Don’t let it. Take a deep breath, walk away, and remember how God deals with YOU.

Slow to anger…it’s a God-thing.

The Glorious Splendor of God’s Kingdom by Wende Pritchard