One of Those Days

One of Those Days

I’m wandering slowly, aimlessly thoughout the house, trying to think of an activity that will get my limbs moving. But not so much as to whip up all the hot air around me, making the heat even harder to ignore. I’d been sitting for quite some time, writing out long-hand my notes for the presentation I’m scheduled to give at a women’s conference later this week. I was tired of sitting so, after peeling my glowing arm off the paper, I stood. And made my way to … where? Oh my, it’s that 3 p.m. slump that presents itself most days at exactly this time. I usually weather it pretty well but when it’s this hot, I don’t weather much well. I’ll begin this sweaty, slump with a cup of coffee. A small one, because I don’t really yearn to drink it as much as I crave the ritual. Now, at least, I can wander slowly and aimlessly with coffee in hand.

Maybe I should go online, again, for the sixth time today, or the tenth. I lost track. I go online about as often as my husband dashes into the shower for a quick cooling. I have given up on that method of feeling good because the lovely, cool feeling doesn’t last long enough to get me from one side of our modest house to the other, making me feel quite cheated. Back to my idea of checking email again – I must exercise a bit of self-discipline. I pick up my Kindle instead, which doesn’t require hardly any effort to turn a page, and open to Colossians. I’m putting the text to music – for my personal benefit only. No one else would want to sing it as I’m certainly no composer.  I review a few “stanzas”.  There. That has reset my soul and I’m in a good place. What shall I do next?

Dust the sills. This doesn’t require hardly any energy and it always needs doing. The window sills are particularly disgusting. When the sand pit we call our yard blows daily into the house, I think 50% of it must make its landing on the sills before the remainder hits the floor. On my “full steam ahead” days, when I sweep and mop and do laundry and dust and bake and write and everything – I scorn the sills. They are speed bumps that curb my domestic enthusiasm. I have to actually slow down to dust them because of all the burglar bars that interfere. It is a tedious chore. Mindless. And just the thing for this hour.

Next? Here I sit, obviously. It really tells you something when a body is too languid to do anything but dust the sills and a mind too fried to do anything but write about it.

But behold! What is this? The wind is picking up! Do I hear thunder in the distance? Might this oppressive heat be a portent of a refreshing shower?

It occurs to me that quite a few people here are wilting under the oppression of the Enemy of their souls. Their spirits are languid, they are floundering, aimless, not knowing which way to turn. They are sheep without a shepherd, seedlings without water. On Friday I am bringing buckets of water to scores of women, many are plants of the Lord Jesus. I’m going to douse them in Colossians. We’re going to jump in, get washed up and stay in the cool water of God’s word for two days straight. I’m hoping to show some how to swim. It might be intolerably hot under the tin roof of the church building. I sure hope not, but if it is, we’ll need the cool water from heaven all the more.

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Bye Lines

Bye Lines

“Time to say ‘goodbye’”, Sarah Brightman’s breathy crooning soared up and over the mango and the cashew trees, wafting in under our tin roof. The bar down the road, like most bars in Africa, graciously shared their music with the entire neighborhood. One raunchy, raucous rap or intrusive, throbbing rock song after another pushed it’s way into our evening routine. Then, suddenly, Sarah is singing goodbye. It seemed so incongruous, out of place – and yet, comforting in an odd sort of way.

Here are some down to earth goodbyes I have known:

“May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent one from the other.” One branch of my family repeats in unison this covenant made between Laban and Jacob. (Gen. 31:49) Their relationship had been strained, at best. Deceit and mistreatment are the words that come to mind. When Jacob finally left Laban’s employ they reconciled, promising not to avenge wrongs, acknowledging that God would see and hold accountable the one who sabotages their family relationships. I’m not sure why my family clan has used this as their goodbye, but it really would be an appropriate one for some of our situations.

“I hate goodbyes – I’ll just say ‘until next time’”.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” The Aaronic blessing – Numbers 6:24-26

Tearful goodbyes: Standing in a circle, holding hands, various ones pray, then we sing the Doxology together. God has blessed one branch of my family with more than their share of musical talent. I love singing with them but never make it to the final “Amen” of that farewell, as I’m usually sobbing by that time. Some of those family members I will never see again this side of Heaven.

Painful goodbyes: the final visit with grandchildren before returning to Africa for another term — my small grandson spontaneously stooped down, grabbed a couple pieces of gravel from the drive and handed them to me as I got into the car – his way of recognizing my sadness and bestowing a blessing. I only registered the blessing later. At the time, it all just hurt.

I remember clearly where my brave, precious mother was sitting when I bade farewell before our final term in Mozambique. Usually positive and dry-eyed when we depart, this time her lip was trembling, her eyes pleading. I sensed within me that I’d never see her walk again. We promised to not go more than a year without seeing her. She smiled then, and released us. It was a painful departure, and it was the last time I saw her walk.

I carry deep within me my father-in-law’s goodbye. Here we were, a young couple with four little children and ten pieces of luggage at least. A crowd of dear friends and family gathered around us at O’Hare to enclose us in a tight circle and pray for us before we boarded our plane for another continent. The children were his grandchildren; the luggage, the possessions they would need for the next four years; but the young man was his own son. My husband’s dear father, and mine because hubby and I are one, gripped me in an uncharacteristic hug. And then, with his voice close to my ear he chocked out , “Please, take care of my son.” At various times in our marriage, his heartfelt “last instructions” have echoed in my mind and I remember that my husband is also someone’s beloved son whom they hope will be cherished as they have cherished him.

I have known some who pick a quarrel in the final days or hours before a goodbye that will initiate a long separation. Maybe they think: “It won’t be so painful if I convince myself they aren’t worthy of my love anyway.” This way of saying goodbye is selfish, destructive to all parties, and is like a curse on the relationship.

Goodbyes are important. The way we say goodbye can pronounce a curse, or a blessing.

Elijah bade farewell to his ardent disciple, Elisha, with a blessing – the prophetic mantle was passed on to him with all the enabling he needed to fulfil God’s calling. II Kings 2

Jesus’ goodbye to his disciples was a promise of great blessing – a clear mandate for service and the power of the Holy Spirit within them to qualify them for the work. (Acts 1) In both the case of Elijah and Jesus, their disciples received a greater blessing at the farewell than they had while living in the bodily presence of their master. They received a double portion, a blessing that saw them through to the end of their days.

How often have I bid a farewell with my mind full of my own sorrow and deprivation? Was my loved one blessed in the parting, or have I been too absorbed with my feelings about the separation to bestow a blessing?

Our family parted in July after a sweet reunion. We planned our goodbye ritual in advance: we stood in a circle, sang Mayibuye (our favorite Africa song), repeated Aaron’s blessing as a prayer, then sang the Doxology. It moved me, blessed me, and I actually made it to the “Amen” – just. Our farewell was a fitting end, sending us all our separate ways with full and happy hearts.

How do you say goodbye? I know that I want to be less concerned about expressing my personal feelings and more generous to appropriately bless.

Time to say goodbye! So, I’ll see ya’ — here, there, or in the air!

Glory For Me!

Glory For Me!

That which gives you your sense of worth
is your glory.

“Glory!” What comes to mind when you hear the word? I think: jaw-dropping awesomeness, perfection, God, and Christmas. “Glory!” What do you see? I see angels, white and blinding light, glitter and sparkles. Glory. It’s one of those Bible words that we don’t use much nowadays, unless it’s December and we’re singing about it. But the word does appear in the Bible over and over. I was seeing the “glory” theme so often that I decided I’d better take a closer look and understand what is actually being said.

The glory of God is easier to define, even from a brief dictionary definition. glory – n. 1 high renown or honor won by notable achievements 2 magnificence; great beauty; a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight. Granted, this only scratches the surface of what the prophets and apostles mean when they speak of God’s glory but at least our understanding is pointed in the right direction. What really threw me was the passages that quote a human being saying “my glory”. What is that about? Take Psalm 16, for example, where we listen in as David alternately prays to God and talks to his own soul. Towards the end he says,

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices…”

Now, if you are using a modern paraphrase, you probably won’t see the word “glory” here. The translators have accommodated our self-imposed, limited vocabulary. I’m sorry about that because I think the meaning intended in the original manuscript holds layers of richness that contextualised translations miss.

One commentator, Matthew Henry, explains that “our glory is that within us that makes us different from the beasts”. Our tongue, our ability to speak, distinguishes us from animals. Therefore, in the case of Psalm 16 David audibly, with speech, rejoices in the Lord. But speech is not our only distinguishing characteristic. There’s a deeper layer of meaning to “glory”.

We differ from animals in that we are aware of the self. We think about our self. We consider our image and we ponder the level of satisfaction we have attained. We are conscious of our self, of our soul. So now I invite you to read Psalm 84 with that in mind. Notice that in David’s self-awareness, he directs his soul to God. David is the king! He sits on a throne and lives in a palace! But this is not where he finds his worth. “The Lord will give grace and glory”, he assures his soul, “no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” We see here, then, that “glory” also carries the meaning ‘the weight of significance, honor, esteem’. And here is the point. David, for all his talents, skills, wealth and power derived the weight of his significance from the Lord who gives it to those who trust in him! What freedom this truth has given me from the bondage of self — of having to assert myself, to protect and look after the measure of my worth and significance!

Do you see the powerful truth here? If you trust in the Lord Jesus your identity, self-esteem, value and worth is wrapped up in him. He shares his glory with you. In Him you live and move and have your being. Our personal glory is centered in our Savior, the only truly Glorious One.

Now, when you read your Bible and come across the phrase “my glory”, don’t rush over it. Amplify the meaning with “my esteem” or “the weight of significance” and catch a glimpse of the further glories that await you and I! Go to John 17 with this in mind and you’ll be blown away! Christ’s glory, which He has given to us, is for the purpose of unity among us, His followers, to the end that the world may know God sent Jesus. I am identified with Christ, sharing in his worth, not to realize my self but to manifest the truth of the gospel, God’s glory, to the world! Genuine significance lies in an absence of pride in the “me” that I love, and finds its pride and worth in God’s glory.

There is an old hymn I sang as a child that comes to mind. Sing along with me (or say it) and in your mind think “significance or esteem” when you sing “glory”.

When all my labors and trials are o’er, and I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore, will through the ages be glory for me.

[chorus] Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me!

When, by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in Heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face, will through the ages be glory for me. [chorus]

Friends will be there I have loved long ago; Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know, will through the ages be glory for me. [chorus]

Let Them Eat Meat!

Let Them Eat Meat!

While on our home assignment some dear friends took us out for dinner. This was no small expense for them, we being a family of 7 with four growing boys. What’s more, this brave couple chose a steak house and said, “Order whatever you want.” Naturally, one of our young carnivores chose the largest, most expensive steak on the menu. Like many families on limited income, I didn’t cook much red meat so when the boys had a chance for some real man-food, they took it, much to my embarrassment.

But nothing compares to the Namibian meat eaters! Game (think kudu, oryx, eland) biltong (like jerky only better) is a routine snack. Game, as well as beef, are main staples of the diet here. Whereas in other African countries you can buy peanuts, roasted corn, coconut fudge, sugar cane or samosas from curb-side vendors, in Namibia you buy Russians (I don’t refer to people trafficking but to the local version of our Polish sausage), or bits of grilled beef. Recently an acquaintance returned from a hunting trip. My husband was invited to the ritual in which all real men participate: dressing the game and butchering, mixing the marinade and putting the biltong meat to soak. My man came home with pounds of game filet and a tub full of marinating strips, which he hung to dry according to instructions. What will last us for months, would disappear after a few weeks in the more carnivorous households around us. These folks know how to chew meat. To say they desire it is an understatement!

I am looking for people who crave God’s word like that. People who chew on the meat of His truth revealed with an insatiable appetite. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, desire the pure milk of the word, just like a newborn desires milk, so that you can grow. The apostle Peter so pleads with the first century church-goers. (I Peter 2:1-3) We live among a people who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The good news of salvation has come to them. They have said “It is good!” They share in the benefits of grace in belonging to a local church: they are baptised, partake of the Lord’s supper, they are comforted by prayers and visits when they’re sick, are helped in trouble and, seemingly most important, they are guaranteed a well attended funeral service officiated by an ordained minister when they die. Yes, they taste of the good gifts God bestows on His covenant family.

Peter, as well as the other apostles, urge the people in all the places they preach to go on from tasting to desiring. He longs for them to crave God’s word the way a baby desires to nurse. He thrives on this milk until he grows up and wants to chew. Peter says that this should be the church’s response to the tasty morsels of grace they sample. The gracious gifts of God’s presence among His people should stir up a yearning, a hunger and longing after Him and His strong words, like it did for David (Psalm 119:9-16). He exhorts them to grow up and chew on the meat! They should be returning continually to the word and meditating on it, storing it up in their memory, pressing it into their heart and bringing it to bear in their lives. They should be filled richly with Christ’s word in order to teach and correct one another; to comfort and encourage one another. (Colossians 3:16-17) Their counsel should come from Scripture (Ps. 119:25). Husbands should be showering their wives with God’s word (Ephesians 5:25-28) and building their marriage and homes according to God’s ordinances.

But instead, these converts to the faith, these tasters, were absorbing themselves in comparisons, divisions and criticisms. They were full of malice, envy and hypocrisy because they contented themselves with tasting, just lounging on the fringes of grace. They stopped short of actually feeding on God’s word— they had no craving or desire for it. Those noble people of Berea, however, loved God’s word and fed on it, instead of preying on each other. And so they discovered the truth and believed that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

This past Sunday in Rundu, a local minister declared to his congregation that their denomination is unwell. This dear man of God has recognised that neither the laity nor the ministers yearn for God. Most disregard His word, rarely read it (or hear it read) and meditate on it even less. They, too, like those early Christians dispersed throughout Asia and the Mediterranean, are absorbed in controversies, rumors, fear of the spirits and idolatries of their past. Most, it seems, do not hunger to know Christ, and so they lack wisdom, godliness and the graces that abound in one who nourishes his soul on the word. They are unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ, shortsighted, blind, and have forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins. They attend church, but they are unwell. Their souls, in fact, are in great danger. (See Hebrews chapter 6.)

Our soul’s meat is the everlasting, unchanging word of God. “Father, as a dear pants for the water; as a newborn cries for milk; as a hunter craves meat, may we hunger for you. May we nourish our soul on the solid food of your word. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who makes your word alive and active to convict us of sin, bring us to repentance, comfort us, teach us, guide and nourish us, to make us healthy in spirit. The kudu filets in my freezer will run out one day. But your word, your truth and satisfying nourishment, will last forever! Amen and amen.”

A soul that thirsts for God, is a soul that hungers for His word. Don’t ever apologise for eating The Meat. Choose It. Rejoice over It. Savor It. Desire It. Over and over again.

II Peter chapter 1; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:57

A Guide for the Descent

A Guide for the Descent

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, our first Spoon Licker boarded a plane in Kenya and flew away to college life in the U.S.A. His high school graduation marked the end of the season when we, all seven of us, lived in Africa … until this month. For almost eight days we lived together again on the continent we had all called “home” for so many years. Our seven has multiplied to twenty-one and there we were, under “one roof” again. During those short but glorious eight days, we visited, played games, sang, read God’s word together, prayed, cooked, shopped, washed clothes and even got a little sleep now and then. And we went places.

We had a guide who led us on each of these outings. These men knew the roads and drove us safely to the day’s destination. Our safari drivers knew where to find the animals and took us right to them. A family our size, with members from babies to grandparents, can be cumbersome to move. Our guides were patient as they periodically reminded us, gently, that “we need to be going now”.

One fine day, a knowledgeable, local man led us on a trail through his village at the base of majestic Kilimanjaro. The path was well beaten, so we probably wouldn’t have gotten lost by ourselves but our guide stopped us along the way to describe the flora and fauna and traditional customs and practices that related to the things we were seeing. Our journey was enhanced by this expert who had been this way hundreds of times before. He was not only knowledgeable, but enthusiastic about his mountain home.

We trusted him to lead us safely. The path was usually wide enough for just one person; it often bordered the very rim of a ravine. Caution was necessary. One of our small ones slipped, falling over the edge only to be immediately caught up by our watchful guide.

The views of the lush valley, the living compounds and the terraced gardens were reward enough for our exertions. However, the real prize and goal of the long hike was the waterfall at the end. And we weren’t disappointed. After splashing in the water and slipping on the rocks, it was finally time to get off the mountainside. Mothers threw their calls to the head of the line, “Junior, I said walk! Don’t run!” (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.) Going down can be treacherous and the risk of falling is greater than on the ascent. The guide walked in front, a barrier to stop any bodies whose legs moved faster than their heads.

It’s suddenly over. This epic Africa reunion, this mountain top experience, is history. I am required to leave the peak, but don’t know how. My human guides were exactly suited to their job, and their job is over. I need a different Guide for this descent. Planning this event took years. It was challenging and exciting. But coming down afterwards can be perilous. I’ve stood at the top with my husband, children and grandchildren, together. I gloried in the unity expressed as we worshiped our Lord Jesus together, sang and laughed, played and prayed; as I observed our members demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in self-control, in patience and in overlooking the faults of others. Together we pressed into the moments and tasted joy. How do I come down from this? My Lord Jesus— patient, knowledgeable, eager to lead me— takes me safely down.

“Father God, give me your mind and your thoughts. Orient my reflections. Monitor my emotions. Correct any wrong impressions I may carry with me. Keep me from slipping on these small pebbles that become little wheels under the weight of my foot, sending me careening. Control the speed of my descent – not too fast lest I race over a word or deed worthy of a longer look; and not too slow, lest I become distracted from the present joys, morosely mourning the end of the peak experience, dishonouring you and distrusting your goodness by coveting more.

“You have done great things for us. May I remember with a thankful heart. May I keep Christ, the wisdom that is his, before me at every turn. Remind me that the gathering, though so personally satisfying, was ultimately about you. Our coming together was not an end in itself for our sakes alone, but served (and serves still) to exalt Jesus as Lord and Saviour so that you, Lord God, will be known by those in our respective realms of influence. With this mind, I will descend safely and my foot will not stumble. Amen.”

I Corinthians 13; Proverbs 3:19-26, Psalm 87:7; Psalm121; Philippians 2:1-11

The Making of a Nation

The Making of a Nation

Down through the ages, since the beginning of time, nations, countries and governments have come, and gone. One will shine while another’s light will dim to a flicker. God has ordained the exact number of years, to the day, that each nation will flourish. And He has a specific purpose in doing so.

And God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,…

God brought forth the nations. What’s more, He governs every ethnic, language and people group. God has marked out the physical, geographic boundaries allotted to each one and has ordained that they live within these borders for a specified season of time. These are political borders separating one government from another, as well as natural borders of mountains, rivers or oceans. The Maker of nations determines their entrances and exits, their locations and their relocations. He determines human migrations from one place to another. And He does this for a purpose. It is

so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… Acts 17:26-27

If we could stand back into space and watch our peopled Earth, I imagine we’d see this orb pulsating with movement. There would be streaks of rapid transport from one continent to another, and slower masses floating on the water from one shore to another. There would be fleeing and chasing, trudging and riding from this end to that. Back and forth. From here to there. Walls going up, walls being ripped down. Fences and tunnels. In and out. Stumbling in the dark. Looking for the Light.

The media, and our textbooks, will tell us this to and fro-ness is due to war, to famine, to politics and persecutions. Individuals seek asylum, or simply a better life. But these are only the conditions in which movement seems expedient. The purpose is other. The purpose is God’s.

We call them “displaced” peoples. But in reality, God has strategically placed the peoples.  Though the conditions may be unjust, they are not senseless.  God repositions peoples and boundaries so that they will be pressed to look for Him. He shows us His intentions in the “so that”. When up until now, His pleasant and bright gifts, so abundantly given, have not caused a nation to worship the Giver, He then may bless it with crisis. He offers the peoples afflictions so that in the dark days of their nation they will grope for the One True God and find Him. He is not far; He doesn’t hide. He will make sure the seeker finds and is found by Him. Thus, God relocates entire nations, as well as individuals, so that they might know Him, the God and Savior Jesus Christ. For there is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.

I don’t know how Brexit will change the face of Europe. I don’t know how the next U.S. president will redefine the nation. I don’t know who will, or won’t become “great again”. The coming decades may bring upheaval the likes of which we can’t imagine. This is not a doomsday prophecy but a declaration of hope! Eyes of faith see evidence that God is at work transferring people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His glorious light. The King of kings and Lord of lords is deposing some, empowering others – changing demographics all over the globe – in order to create a nation composed of members from every people group who will walk in His light. A new nation. A nation of people who He calls His own and who worship Him exclusively.

If you are not worshiping God, He may take you to where you don’t want to go in hopes that you will finally look for Him.

Do you worship Christ, the God of the nations, the only Savior of the world?Consider that He may relocate you to where someone is seeking Him; that you are being strategically placed to turn someone from the darkness to light.

Amidst the changes, let us not fear calamity. We must pray against it, we must engage in our democratic processes, of course; but never panic. Rather, let us recognize and glory in God’s mighty power to save; in His activity in the world to accomplish His will. The Lord does reign! Let the earth rejoice; let the coastlands be glad! Though his strategies may be obscured to us, know that He is righteous and just and He will accomplish His purpose. He is preparing a people who are His own to live forever in His light!

Among the gods, there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name; for You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10

A closer look: Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:13, 14; Revelation 21:22-22:5;                  Psalm 97;    Job 12:23-25

Canary in the Cart

Canary in the Cart

Counsel in self-awareness from Psalm 131

“You can be anything you want to be! You’ve got it in you! The sky’s the limit! Go for it! A little bit of hard work and it’s yours! Remake yourself into whatever you want to be!” So shout the magazine covers, the book titles, the therapists, the parents to their children … so insist those who have a thorough belief in human capability, who scorn boundaries and limits as mere hurdles in the road to be cleared. Our world, especially my western culture, holds faithfully to this view of the self.

It is important to be aware of your self, your heart and your soul. But if you share my same faith in Christ Jesus, your awareness is not based on human philosophies. You know that God, the maker of your self, also instructs you how to think about that self. David, shepherd, warrior and king, made himself vulnerable to us, laid his heart bare within the pages of scripture. His intent, second to ascribing all praise to God, is to instruct us on a proper self- awareness – – seeing ourselves from God’s point of view. So let’s take a look at one of his songs that has instructed me down through the years.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty.

David does not make much of himself. He does not desire to be significant to anyone but his sheep. He is not impressed with himself or with his influence. He is not proud of his accomplishments nor think himself above others. He is humble, seeing himself through God’s eyes, oriented towards loving God, not himself. His focus on God puts his view of self in its proper place.

Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.

What might these “great matters and “things too profound for me” be? David didn’t try to be what he wasn’t. How much are we tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought; as indispensable or deserving or invincible? How foolishly we build up our children’s esteem in themselves, only for them to discover later that we built on shifting sands. It was all a lie. No one can have all they want, do anything they want and be anything they may want to be. David, in his humility, knew his limits. We are wise to study ours.

Secondly, how taken is your mind with speculations? Do I let my thoughts go round and round with speculations about other people, what they think of me; with the future and the “what ifs”? Such ponderings either serve to stoke my pride, or fan the flame of my fears into a blaze that singes even those around me.

A third great matter, things too profound for us, are the great mysteries of God. Not even our neatly packaged, instructive catechisms, statements of faith and systematic theologies can contain Him. David praises God whose thoughts are very deep and can’t be fathomed. Isaiah tells us God’s thoughts and His ways are above ours, His designs too deep for our understanding. And Paul labors to explain how it is that our slavery to sin enables God to show mercy to us all. How do I wrap my mind around that? The apostle himself is astonished. You can just hear him finally raise his voice and declare, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” [from Romans 11]  Do I humbly admit that God has purposefully placed the full extent of His deep thoughts and divine wisdom beyond my reach?

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

A nursing child is a restless child in his mother’s arms, banging his head on her chest, twisting this way and that, until he gets what he’s rooting around for. But a weaned child will sit contentedly.

David sent his soul to rest in the God he totally trusted. No head banging to sort out thoughts that circled in his head; no rooting around for what wasn’t his; not flailing his arms in self-assertion. He cried, he questioned and in the end, he was content to let his soul restfully trust in the God he hungered to know. He seems to say, “Let me know God, and He will tell me all I need to know about my self, my circumstances, and in His perfect timing, too.”

“Thus does a gracious soul quiet itself under the loss of that which it loved and disappointment in that which it hoped for, and is easy whatever happens, lives and lives comfortably, upon God and the covenant-grace, when creatures prove dry breasts.” M. Henry

Canary perched on the seat in the grocery cart. I rolled us down the aisle of the store while the little guy sang clearly, sweetly (that’s why I called him Canary) the chorus he must have heard repeatedly at home:  “No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”   He cared nothing for himself, or what other shoppers might think. Shamelessly, he sang what he knew about Jesus.
These had been tense months. We were waiting for all of the financial support we needed before we could go to Portugal for language study. Any day now we would be closing our suitcases for the last time and getting on that plane. But the days stretched to weeks, and to months. We moved from one temporary house to another. Uncertainty and change were the norm in our home. And yet, our Canary sang. He was not concerned with these great matters before us. He did not bother his soul about the moving, the leaving, becoming a third culture kid or any other profound thing. His soul was quiet and at rest for he trusted God.

Oh Israel, [oh Church, oh Christian,] put your hope in the Lord now and always.

Canary has outgrown the cart, but not the hope in his heart;
regarding his “self” in small measure, to know Christ is his treasure.

 Photo: grocery store in Namibia