Disastrophe

Today is Saturday, the twenty-ninth of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,333

I’m off to a bit of a late start, this morning. It’s already almost 11:00 AM. I’ve been up since shortly after 8:00, but various things have distracted me.

It was a good day at the library, yesterday. Of course. Besides helping a number of patrons scan and/or print their documents, I also sorted and shelved three carts full of books and media. The funny thing is that at least five different people were in the computer center between 5:30 and 6:00, and several of them walked in right around 5:45. Then we had one guy in the group study room, doing some kind of zoom meeting or something, and we pretty much had to run him out at 6:00. He didn’t give us any trouble, but he didn’t hurry to get out, either.

Today, C and I have decided (it was mostly my idea) to get pedicures. We thought about trying to bowl at C’s work place, but they are having some kind of collegiate tourney today, so no lanes are available.

Tomorrow, we will be heading to Mineral Wells quite early. FBC is having a “new members” class in the pastor’s office at 9:00, and a lunch for anyone who has recently joined the church, and S wants to attend. So we will drop her off at the church at 9:00, go to Mama’s house and visit with her for a bit, then head up to church for the worship service and have lunch with S. After lunch we will go back to Mama’s and visit with her for a little while longer. Because of all of this, we plan to have Applebee’s for lunch today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Path is Made, by Daryl Madden

You can’t think your way
To a new way of living
You have to live your way
To a new way of thinking

The journey is not
About the talking
The path is made
With each step of walking

Get into the river
Guided by prayer
Get into the current
Let it take you there

For you have blessed
And a purpose true
For today is the day
Of the first step for you

One of the reasons I do this every day is to “get into the river guided by prayer.” I want to be . . . I want to live . . . in that river, in the current, and let it take me wherever I need to be. Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

The voice of the LORD is powerful; 
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 
May the LORD give strength to his people! 
May the LORD bless his people with peace! 
(Psalms 29:4, 11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my morning coffee
2. for pedicures with my wife
3. for the river of the grace of God, in which I immerse myself, allowing it to carry me wherever it will
4. that however catastrophic current affairs may appear, God is sovereignly at work in them, working His plan
5. that God, the Creator of mountains and forests, thought the world needed one of me (and you, too)

Ezekiel is a weird book. In fact, Stuart Briscoe even wrote a book about it called All Things Weird and Wonderful. I read it back in 1980, according to my reading list. Eugene Peterson, in Symphony of Salvation, calls Ezekiel “Master at Dealing with Catastrophe.”

When catastrophe strikes, our world tends to fall apart. But another thing that happens is that we also tend to deny that things are catastrophic. There were deniers in sixth-century BC Israel, just as there are deniers today (if you want to see deniers, just look around during the past few years . . . you’ll see people denying that there is a pandemic; you’ll see people denying that Joe Biden is President). In Ezekiel’s day, “the denial people refused to see that the catastrophe was in fact catastrophic.” They insisted that “God wouldn’t let anything that bad happen to them.”

There are also people, today, who think exactly like that. If something “bad” happens, it can’t be God; He wouldn’t do that!

What Ezekiel shows us is that “God was at work in the catastrophe, sovereignly using the catastrophe. He showed them so that they would be able to embrace God in the worst of times.”

"Well, tell them this: 
'This is your Message from GOD, the Master. 
True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. 
All the same, I've provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you've gone.
 I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you've been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. 
You'll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. 
I'll give you a new heart. I'll put a new spirit in you. 
I'll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. 
Then you'll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!'"
(Ezekiel 11:16-20 MSG)

“Ezekiel showed them . . . that God was and would be at work in the wreckage and rubble, sovereignly using the disaster to create a new People of God.”

God is similarly working today; He has never stopped. There will always be catastrophe, somewhere. And God will always be working “in the wreckage and rubble, sovereignly using the disaster to create a new People of God.”

You can count on it.

I am reminded of something that happened in elementary school I do not remember what grade . . . it might have been third grade. But we were sitting in class, working on some assignment, when a boy sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “How do you spell ‘disastrophe?” Clearly, he was slightly confused. I can’t remember which word I actually spelled for him, but I’m sure I let him know that “disastrophe” is not a word.

If there is “disastrophe” in your life, right now, there are two things you need to know. 1. You are not alone. 2. God is sovereignly working through that event, working through the wreckage and rubble, to create a new you. Let Him work.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:6 ESV)

For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.
(2 Chronicles 30:9 ESV)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 3:23-24 ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Father, help me to live in that river. I immerse myself in the river of Your grace, allowing it to carry me wherever it will. I surrender my will to You, desiring only to immerse myself in Your love. Help me to be able to surrender enough to be able to contemplate that love without outside distractions, even for just a few seconds. Help me to walk and not talk.

I pray for the catastrophes that are going on around us, in this state, in this country, in this world. Help us to see Your hand at work in all of them. Help us to trust in You and You alone, not in any schemes that men may design. My hope is in You, the God of all Creation, not in any princes, kings, or presidents, or other rulers. My hope is not in men; I do not worship men. I worship You because You and You alone are worthy of all of my praise and worship.

Thank You for grace; but help us, O Lord to be humble about it. The grace that You have given, You have extended to all, not just a certain race or skin color or language or political party or denomination. You send the sunshine and rain upon the just and the unjust alike. I pray, Father, that we would all be humble enough to extend that same grace to one another, that we would love each other the way You have commanded us to do. Change our hearts, O God. And help us to walk in the words and steps of our Savior.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

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