….there are seasons in a believer’s life – and sometimes the seasons change suddenly…Faith is perplexed and yet goes on pleading. The psalmist does not use God’s baffling him as an excuse for disengaging with God but as an incentive to press on with him. from – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I don’t know just what season I’m in right now. It’s like the rainy season – sprinkled with showers of doubt; covered in clouds of despair. But sometimes, the clouds will break up and the sun will shine through and I am reminded that God is still there, always there, even when I doubt.
The Psalm begins this way in verses one and two:
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord Why do You hide in times of trouble?
The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which
they have devised.
Why? I’m always wondering why. I find myself too full of questions and doubt. But, the psalmist sees that God is good in verse fourteen:
But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
And again in verses 17-18:
Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
My prayer for myself is that God would change my whys into words of trust. That I would
trust in Him to shelter me in the days of darkness and give me joy in the rays of His grace.
“…there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I came across this quote I’d written down while reading Gilead and it was the word disjunction that caught my eye. I’ll explain about why later. Disjunction means a lack of correspondence or consistency.
There certainly is no connection between God’s loving us and us deserving His love. I speak for myself, but I know it is true for us all. What in the world can we do to deserve God’s love above anyone else? Or at all? There are no works we can do to merit His favor. There is a multitude of works we can do, though, to show our love for Him.
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
I Timothy 6:18
So, back to the reason this word jumped out at me. In my latest long-term substitute gig, I’ve been teaching 7th grade science. We are learning genetics and just yesterday we talked about nondisjunction. As an English teacher at heart, this word threw me because it seems to begin with two negatives. Even though my math skills are poor, I know two negatives make a positive, so now I’m confused.
Nondisjunction occurs in the process of meiosis when homologous chromosomes fail to separate properly during cell division. So, to back up, junction is the process of joining. So, that would seem to mean that disjunction would be a splitting apart. Which makes sense; it’s a lack of connection. So, it seems like NONdisjunction would be a lack of splitting apart. But, no, it is actually a lack of splitting apart correctly. NOW I get it! I feel much better.
Back once more to the original quote – I am trying to put these thoughts all together. God’s love does not come to us because we deserve it. We could not apply the word nondisjunction to this situation, because there is NO correct nor incorrect lack of splitting apart of these two ideas – God’s love and our deserving. These two will never correlate.
One thing I do know is that as I learn the intricacies of DNA, I am more awed than ever at the way God created us. And more overwhelmed at the fact that He loves me.
That is how life goes – we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I’ve read this over several times, but don’t really know what I can add. The sentiments expressed just really got to me.
My hope is in the LORD.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into water springs. – →Psalm 107:35
“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”_
– Madeleine L’Engle
This hits very close to home. I have looked at the verses in Matthew about being “salt and light” and have had to ask myself, am I being salt and light in this world? Does anyone ever look at me and think, “I wonder what makes her so joyful? There is something different about her. I want what she has.” I am afraid that most times I blend right in with the complaining crowd; I hide my light under a bushel instead of shining and reflecting Christ.
My prayer is that I would shine for Christ. That I would remember the words of that childhood song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”. But, I need to remember the light is Christ’s, and not my own.
1. Don’t pray to seen by men – And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward – Matthew 6:5
2. Don’t start with your wants – “In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
The structure of what is familiarly known as The Lord’s Prayer begins with God, then goes on to mankind and our needs.
3. Don’t expect to always have the beautiful words. – sometimes we comes to God and our souls are dry and empty. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26
4. Don’t focus on yourself – Refocus your eyes on God – if you are a Christian, He is your Father – look to Him.
Approach Him with reverence, not in INDEPENDENCE, but rather IN DEPENDENCE.
Please know that I am talking to myself here as well. Thanks to Mark Soud for his messages on Matthew.
God is real. I know this isn’t the best analogy, but I always think of the wind. You can’t SEE the wind, but you can see the effects of the wind. I don’t say “there is no wind” just because I can’t see it – that would be foolish.
…though He is not far from every one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being…
I love the way this verse reads – He is not far from every one of us”. That is truly a comforting thought.
C.S. Lewis was was a novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote numerous other works, including “The Problem of Pain” from where the quotes in this series were taken.
“It is good for us to know love, and best for us to know the love of the best object, God. But to know it as a love in which we were primarily the wooers and God the wooed, in which we sought and He was found, in which His conformity to our needs, not ours to His, came first, would be to know it in a form false to the very nature of things.”
You might have to read that again, slowly, a few times. The idea is that we seek God only after he has called us first. In John 10:27 we read “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
There is a seeking after God. It happens after He draws us to Himself.
Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek theLordwhile He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Here we are told to seek after God. This is not a contradiction. We will obey this, we will seek God, we will step out in faith, when He draws us near.
It’s an amazing thought. It puts life into a different perspective. It puts GoD at the center, not man. And that is comforting.
photo credit – “Sheep Grazing On Saddleworth Moor” by Tom Curtis