Bookcase Browsings #6

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Boy and Dog Snuggled in Blanket (C. 1925) – from Norman Rockwell’s American Children by Marian Hoffman

“William’s mother always said, ‘The illness just has to run its course.’ This may have been true, but there were comforts that could be provided to help pave the way to better health.” 

In the front of this book there is an inscription:

To Papa Graham  

From Benji

Christmas Eve Dec. 24, 1990

My dad really enjoyed this book and I plan to pass it on, or back, to the giver, my son, Ben. I love the picture above. It reminds me of my Ruby and what a comfort she is. I don’t need to be sick to enjoy her snuggles. Of course, she benefits, too, as she gets to be on the soft, comfy bed.

I wish we could just say coronavirus “just has to run its course”. In a way it does, but it’s not a JUST when it’s affecting someone you love. Hang in there,work and pray, get your sunshine and fresh air, and snuggle your pet.

Ora et labora

 

                               

 

Yesterday I was reading Prayers of the Bible by Gordon J. Keddie and this verse from Nehemiah struck me as being applicable to our situation today in light of the coronavirus.

 

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.    –   Nehemiah 4:9

 

The men in Nehemiah weren’t battling a disease, but I think the idea here can apply to our world right now. We need to pray and to keep on working. I read two articles this week that were written in this same vein. One was this article  in which C.S. Lewis expressed his thoughts on the atomic bomb. Replace the bomb with  coronavirus  and it’s a lot of common sense, especially for Christians.

These words from Martin Luther are full of wisdom:   ““I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.” You can read more HERE

 

Ora et labora — Pray and Work

Ask & It Shall Be Given

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“Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

I’ve heard and read  this verse so many times but never pondered it as much as Will did in Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Grandpa explains it to Will in his simple, crusty manner.

Will: “One time I prayed for a million dollars, to test Him, and didn’t get one dime.”
Grandpa: “Thet was just wishin’. Hit warn’t prayin’.”

A little different from Joel O’Steen’s health and wealth credo.

“God can cause opportunity to find you. He has unexpected blessings where you suddenly meet the right person, or suddenly your health improves, or suddenly you’re able to pay off your house. That’s God shifting things in your favor.” – Joel O’Steen

“Well’m, faith ain’t no magic wand or money-back gar’ntee, either one. Hit’s jest a way a-livin’. Hit means you don’t worry th’ew the days. Hit means you go’n be holdin’ on to God in good or bad times, and you accept whatever happens. Hit means you respect life like it is — like God made it — even when it ain’t waht you’d order from the wholesale house. …When Jesus said said ast and you’ll git it, He was givin’ a gar’ntee a-spiritual healin’, not body healin’….And I found out a long time ago, when I look on what I got to stand as a dang hardship or a burden, it seems too heavy to carry. But when I look on the same dang thing as a challenge, why, standin’ it or acceptin’ it is like you done entered a contest. Hit even gets excitin’, waitin’ to see how everthang’s go’n turn out… Jesus meant us to ast God to hep us stand the pain, not beg Him to take the pain away. We can ast for comfort and hope and patience and courage,and to be gracious when thangs ain’t goin’ our way, and we’ll git what we ast for.” – Grandpa

“I believe if you keep your faith, you keep your trust, you keep the right attitude, if you’re grateful, you’ll see God open up new doors.” – Joel O’Steen

“We can ast for comfort and hope and patience and courage . . . and we’ll git what we ast for. They ain’t no gar’ntee thet we ain’t go’n have no troubles and ain’t go’n die. But shore as frogs croak and cows bellow, God’ll forgive us if’n we ast Him to.” – Grandpa

“They’s a heap more to God’s will than death, disappointment, and like thet. Hit’s God’s will for us to be good and do good, love one another, be forgivin’…’. He laughed. “I reckon I ain’t very forgivin’, son. I can forgive a fool, but I ain’t inner-rested in coddlin’ hypocrites. Well anyhow, folks who think God’s will jest has to do with sufferin’ and dyin’, they done missed the whole point.” – Grandpa

I don’t think Grandpa would’ve coddled the likes of O’Steen.

Wait Silently

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To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.

 

It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it loses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.

 

But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.

 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5

 

Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Prayer

 

Dear Father… You are patient and gracious far beyond our deserving. Let us hope for your forgiveness when we can find no way to forgive ourselves. You bless our lives even when we have shown ourselves to be utterly ungrateful and unworthy. May we be strengthened and renewed, to make us less unworthy of blessing, through these your gifts of sustenance, of friendship and family.” – prayed by Jack in Home by Marilynne Robinson

You would have to read the book to understand how beautiful and sad this prayer is.  Jack, the “black sheep” of the family prays here and it nearly broke my heart. This is the prayer I need to pray. Every. Single. Day. I identify with the ‘no way to forgive ourselves’ sentiment. And the being blessed even while ungrateful and unworthy.

Prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer lays hold of God who changes things and Who, in prayer, changes you. And sometimes in the midst of it all He gives you the assurance that your plea has been granted. – from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis

I like that part about how God changes us in prayer. And gives us assurance.

Psalm 4

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Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

You have relieved me in my distress;

Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.- Psalm 4:1

 

“ …in tight places you have made space for me.” – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis

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David was almost killed by a javelin thrown by Saul, his house was watched by Saul’s henchmen, he was let down through a window and escaped; yet in all this he pleas for and relies on the grace and mercy of God. Oh to have the faith of David!

I can’t say I’ve had the experiences of David. We all have our own trials and temptations, but God knows this. He knows our needs even before we do. I do know that God has relieved me in many distresses but I also know I have clung to crumbling walls and fretted over failures instead of giving my burdens to Him. My prayer today is for mercy.

How NOT to Pray

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photo – Little Visuals

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.

Thoughts on The Pilgrims Progress, Part the Second #6

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Part The Second, p. 228-229

After Christiana and Mercy were approached by two unsavory men, they cried out for help. They were unharmed, but very scared until Reliever came to them. He wondered why they had not asked for help before they set on their way.

Christiana said they were so taken by their blessing that future dangers didn’t enter their minds. Then she wondered why the Lord had not given them help anyway since He knew what was to come.

This is Reliever’s response:

“It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for, lest by doing so, they become of little esteem; but when the Want of a thing is felt, it then comes under, in the eyes of him that feels it, that estimate, that properly is it due, and so consequently will be hereafter used…. So all things work for good, and tend to make you more wary.”

I see two related lessons here.

  1. God allows us to want and need things so that we learn to lean on Him. When we come to God with our fears, concerns, or needs, He may grant us peace, or clarity, or actual provisions. When we realize that all we have is from Him, we love Him more and appreciate all His blessings even more.
  2. This next one may be reaching, but I don’t think so. Parents can apply this to how they give to their children. If you give them everything and they never have to wait or ask or even work for it, it becomes much less meaningful.