Taking Hold of God

Good morning. It is Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is dragoman. Careful, there. Notice I did not spell “dragonman.” Dragoman is a noun, meaning, “a professional interpreter.” It is a word with roots in the East, from the Arabic word tarjuman.

Today is World UFO Day. Keep your eyes on the skies . . . 🙂

Did I mention that Christi hurt her leg while she was bowling, Tuesday evening? I can’t remember. Well, anyway, it seems to gradually be getting better. It was something in the back of her left thigh that kind of popped or something.

I had an opportunity to get in some good practice, last night. I think I practiced for about an hour, working on a good portion of Friday’s concert music. As I was warming up, I noticed that some of the routine exercises I do were coming much easier to me, and sounding pretty darned good! This makes me very happy. A couple of things I’ve noticed, though; my left arm gets really tired, after a bit, and my lung capacity is still nothing like it used to be. I need to figure out some ways to increase my air capacity, so I can play longer passages. And I need to do some dumbbell lifting, or something, with my left arm. That’s the arm that has to hold up the heavy portion of the horn, while the right arm moves the slide. Sure, the back end of the trombone rests on my shoulder, but there is still a weight that falls on the hand and arm. Also, the new horn is significantly heavier than the other one.

Today is Thursday, but will be like Friday for us, as we have tomorrow off for the holiday. I will likely have to work late, this evening, which will be somewhat of an inconvenience for us, since tonight is Christi’s Huddle night. But we don’t have to get up early tomorrow, so we can stay up later tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.

Psalm 80:8-9

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I kind of stopped in the middle of a section, yesterday, due to time. Timothy Keller is writing about Paul’s prayers for the people he loved. In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul prays, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Paul desires that the Spirit would give these people the ability to grasp the entirety of the benefits received “when they believed in Christ.” Sure, we know these things . . . in our minds. A lot of people have memorized a lot of Scripture verses, over the years. But this prayer is deeper than simple head knowledge. “It is to have a more vivid sense of the reality of God’s presence and of shared life with him.”

It is apparent that Paul considers these things to be more important than changing circumstances. If we do not have a firm grasp on the reality of God’s presence in our lives, good circumstances could lead to “overconfidence and spiritual indifference.” After all, how many people do we know who only come to God in times of anxiety, stress, and panic, or in times of health and financial crises? “Who needs God, our hearts . . . conclude, when matters seem to be so in hand?” On the other hand, bad circumstances can lead to despair and discouragement if we do not have a firm grasp of the reality of God’s presence. His love, in this case, is nothing more than an abstract thing. “Therefore, knowing God better is what we mast have above all if we are to face life in any circumstances.”

Paul shows us that he believes that the “highest good is communion or fellowship with God.” This comes through a vibrant prayer life. You see, prayer is not simply just a way to “get things from God but . . . a way to get more of God himself.” Isaiah 64:7 speaks of taking hold of God. Think of it in terms of embracing someone you love deeply.

Unfortunately, most people today “base their inner life on their outward circumstances. Their inner peace is based on other people’s valuation of them, and on their social status, prosperity, and performance.” And the sad thing is that Christians are as guilty of this as others. Remember that triangle I posted last week? The “identity triangle?” It illustrates how we are supposed to get our identity from God in Christ, which then fuels our obedience to his commands. Too many times, we try to do it backwards, getting our sense of identity or significance from what we do or who we know. “If Christians do not base their lives on God’s steadfast love, then they will have ‘to accept as success what others warrant to be so, and to take their happiness, even their own selves, at the quotation of the day. They tremble, with reason, before their fate.'” (The quote within the quote was from Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa.)

Father, help us to know you more. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Your Spirit has guided me, and I am, in some ways, in a place where social status means nothing to me. My identity is not wrapped up in my job or my social circle. I am content to be part of the body of Christ. In fact, it is a joy to celebrate the Supper with my fellow believers each week. But I still long to know you more, that your presence in my life would complete drive out any “foreign” influences that would distract me from my relationship with you. I want to know you more. Let my prayers become more of a “taking hold” of you, more of getting more of you than getting things from you. As I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, may I echo Paul’s prayers for the believers in his life, asking your Spirit to draw them to a place where they are developing a deeper life with you through prayer.

I pray for this day, that our drive to work and back will be safe. I would pray that we might not have to work too late, this evening. Your will be done, though, and I will quietly accept what must be. Help me to display your Kingdom in all that happens during this day. Help me to abide in Christ more consistently. May Christi’s pain be healed, Father. And may her day be free from stress and drama. I pray that Stephanie will draw closer to you today, and that Rachel and Justin would have whatever they need, as you provide daily bread for us. May my mother know your presence today, as your Spirit abides in her and she in you.

Your grace is sufficient.

The verse in Isaiah 64 is a tragic verse. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. May that not be true of us today. May we “rouse” ourselves to “take hold of” God. He has not hidden his face from us, and is freely accessible in Jesus. May we take advantage of that today.

Grace and peace, friends.

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