My Rock

“Blessed be the LORD, who daily bears us up.” Psalm 68:19

We have close friends who are hurting deeply, anguish-of-the-soul deeply, and Psalm 62 is God’s perfect word and balm.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Our God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”

My Fortress, Cape Coast, Ghana

Indeed, God is our Rock- immovable; Salvation- assurance; Hope- security; Fortress- strong protector; Refuge- safe hiding place; Glory- promise. No human institution or being is such a One. To trust Him is to be absolutely secure, today and forever. We can wait, be still and silent, and rest on, trust in, pour out our hearts before, Him. He is strong, He is loving. He will not be moved.

On You, Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

The Bounty in Early

The first thing I saw was the rainbow, surreal color against a thick pallete of oyster grey and pearl blue after the rain. Then there were the starfish–one, several, dozens on the sandbar under shallow, serene water as we paddled out. Dawn offers such a bounty of delights. A dolphin fin, then two; graceful creatures arced and blew, leaving smooth circles near us on the surface when they dipped. Seagulls flashed like Morse code as peeks of rising sun hit their white wings on every stroke, the rainbow’s prism, deepened in hue against the thickening grey, lengthened upward to encircle them. Then we saw the low white splashes, silver flashes, a school of foil-scaled snook energetically scalloping the water’s surface toward and alongside us—a first for our captivated hearts.

“O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, with teems of creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.” Psalm 104:24-25

By the time we turned around, the rainbow was gone, thunder rumbled in the east, and tiny drops ticked down on us. There is nothing like early for the Lord’s prepared feast, and we never know what we miss when we don’t arise.

heart-in-sand-from-a-crab-god-loves-us.jpg

“‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day. Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat.’ Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.” Exodus 16:4,16,21

Lord, bid me rise at Your hour that I not miss the bounty You have for me. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

Puzzles and God’s Sovereignty

I have enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles since I was a little girl, spending hours every summer alongside my father, sister, other family and/or friends at a table by the big picture window overlooking Red Cedar Lake in the Wisconsin north woods, putting together masterpieces. A friend has recently introduced me to a new kind of puzzle (for me), wooden with creative, not-always-straight edge pieces, clever object pieces, an extra piece or two that doesn’t fit in, and usually no picture of the finished product. I recently worked “Yosemite Spring,” a magnificent scene of mountains reflected in a clear lake, graced by deer and a billowy cloud top, that had fun pieces shaped like a hiker, birds, fish, a snowflake, the sun, a stingray, and the always-included jester. I couldn’t help but think how the sovereign God works in our lives.

Puzzle: Stave's Yosemite Spring

He knows the big picture, the whole story beginning to end– He designed it, and has crafted every piece of our individual lives to fit together for His purposes. Each puzzle is unique, an intricate masterpiece of distinct beauty. We don’t know what our life will look like, and often the edges, our plans and course, are not what we expected; they don’t always follow our prescribed or desired pattern. Sometimes God surprises us with delights, or heartaches, that take our breath away. But every part fits together to make the life He ordained and planned from before time, a work of perfection according to His purposes.

When we don’t know the whys, or hows, or whats of the future, we can know Him. That is enough. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Colossians 1:17; Psalm 138:8)

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things yet undone, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purposes.’ I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-10,11

Sovereign Lord, I am Your workmanship. You are acquainted with all my ways. You who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. I know that You can do all things, and that no purposes of Yours can be thwarted. So be it, amen. (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:3; Philippians 1:6; Job 42:2)

The Folly of Pride

“Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” Isaiah 10:15

How easy it is to slip words into conversation that make us feel big, important, even superior. It might be subconscious, or unintentional, but still betrays a sense that we have earned, achieved, or experienced something that adds to our value, that we deserve to be esteemed or elevated because of it. Who are we trying to impress?

“What do you have that you did not receive? A person cannot receive even one thing unless it was given him from heaven.” 1 Corinthians 4:7; John 3:27

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Cornwall, England, wired cross on church

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,                                                                                             Save in the death of Christ, my God;                                                                                                 All the vain things that charm me most–                                                                                          I sacrifice them to His blood.”                                                                                                       Isaac Watts (1674-1748)  

O LORD, may my words and actions, even motivations, boast only in You (2 Corinthians 1:31; 10:17).   

 

Hail the King!

Isaiah 9 prophesies Jesus’s birth and reign: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Combatted daily with turmoil, threats, and aggression, as world leaders connive and compare, make alliances and break treaties, act from distinct motivations fueled by distinct beliefs, experiences, forms of government, and pride, all can seem tenuous and uncertain. Instability, “breaking news,” fluctuating markets, ruthless persecution shake our confidence and sense of security.

But our Mighty God, our Prince of Peace, reigns! Our King is wonderful, upright, everlasting, and able! His throne is unshakeable. His rule is peace, and as a child of His kingdom, I have peace. While we live in this world, we are citizens of another kingdom, whose “throne is established and upheld with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

Thunderhead at sunset

“Christ’s reign from all eternity is the perspective from which all history is to be viewed.” Alistair Begg

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. The LORD , the Most High, is a great king over all the earth. God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.” Psalm 46:10; 47:2,8

Hail, my King!

“So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.”                                                                                            John Ellerton (1870)

Parched or Quenched?

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…Why do you labor for what does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:1,2

In Isaiah 8, the LORD renders judgment. “Because this people have refused the waters of Shiloh that flow gently….therefore behold, the Lord is bringing against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on to Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to its neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land.”

What makes us refuse living water and choose the world’s drink, promised satisfaction that leaves us parched, wanting, ofttimes poisoned? We think we know better. We think we don’t have time for gently-flowing waters. We think it’s better to be busy, when really we are choosing to be frenzied, to expend effort on inferior, fruitless things that end up choking our lives and drowning our purpose. Or, we don’t think at all.

McKinney Falls creek

“The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of living water.” Revelation 7:17

Lord, may I drink long draughts of the living water that You give so it will become in me a spring of water welling to eternal life, and I may never thirst again. (John 4:14)

Shouldering or casting?

No matter what the weight, the longer we carry something, the heavier it seems, and the more difficult the task.

“Cast your burden on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

Throughout this psalm, David pours out his burden- the noise of the enemy, oppression of the wicked, trouble, anger, grudges against him, fear of death, hurt of betrayal, taunts, strife–“the raging wind and tempest” of his life–in complaint and plea for mercy. And there he rests. “I will trust in you.”

“There is none like God…who rides the heavens to your help. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:26,27

Cloud arms encircling, God holds the world 1

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God….casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Good Father, trustworthy and strong, this day I transfer my cares from my shoulders to  You. All of them. I cast, You carry. You hear, You receive, You answer, You contend with those who contend with me (Isaiah 49:25), and You will never permit me to be moved. Hallelujah.

                                      “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,                                                                            I will not, I will not desert to his foes;                                                                                           That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,                                                                    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”                                                                                 Unknown, probably 18th century