Good morning. It’s Thursday, August 16, 2012. Today is “National Rum Day.” Which immediately made me think of this.

Indeed…why is the rum gone. Daiquiris all around!

On this date in 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon, near the Klondike River. On this date in 1948, George Herman “Babe” Ruth passed away from cancer in New York City. On this date in 1977, Elvis Presley was found unconscious in his Graceland home. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Since that time, he has been seen multiple times at K-Mart. On this date in 1958, Madonna was born, prompting Don McLean to write a song about “the day music died.” I’m not even going to try to type her whole name. The part about Don McLean was a joke. Sort of. On this date in 1920, Charles Bukowski was born. On this date in 1974, The Ramones played their first public gig at CBGB’s in Manhattan.

(I know…that’s not The Ramones, but it’s what I thought of, so I included it. I like the song.)

We are beginning preparations for our Christmas vacation, the first one we have ever taken. Last week, we decided that, on the day after Christmas, we are heading to Cancun. In order to do this, we will have to get passports. I’ve never done that before, so we’re getting to work on that. We’ll be staying at this Iberostar hotel. We’re still looking into a day trip to some of the ruins, perhaps Chichen Itza or Tulum. We’re pretty excited about this trip.

As this week winds down, we are heading towards Stephanie’s 19th birthday. That happens in just three days, now.

Father, I pray for a glimpse of your face this morning as I look into your Word.

Today I’m reading Psalm 77. Another psalm written by Asaph, this one laments the feeling that God has abandoned his people. The psalmist remembers, though, the great works of God in the past, which lifts his spirits.
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
IN the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.

You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” (1-10)
From this point on, he remembers the works of God on their behalf. I believe that it is okay to ask these questions of God. Of course, I never truly believe that God has “forgotten” anything. He certainly has not “forgotten to be gracious!” But there are times in my life, when it seems, at least to my feeble understanding, that God has abandoned me. I hope, at this point in my life, that I will not think that again. But I’ve certainly been there. It’s not a pleasant feeling. In fact, it is a feeling of ultimate despair. The very idea that God has abandoned you is one of the worst feelings you could have. There is no hope if God has abandoned me. And there is no worse feeling than that of no hope.

The good news is that God has never abandoned me, no matter how bad things seem. He has promised this. Because of this, there is always hope. Always.

My Utmost For His Highest
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3

“The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus.” One can know much about doctrine and not know the Savior. Mary was weeping in the garden, as she contemplated an empty tomb. She knew nothing of doctrine. The Pharisees could have humiliated her, doctrinally. But they could not take away the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her, or the fact that she knew Jesus!

Have there been times in my life when I doubted something about Jesus, perhaps something to which others testified but I have not yet experienced? Thomas had been told what the other disciples had seen, but he would not believe until he saw. Jesus graciously condescended to show him. When those personal touches from Jesus come, “they are indescribably precious.” When those times come, I, along with Thomas can do nothing but cry out, “My Lord and my God!”

Peter denied Christ, even throwing in a few curses for good measure. Yet, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter…alone. Jesus restored Peter privately, then before the others.

Do I have a personal history with Jesus? “The one sign of discipleship is intimate connection with Him, a knowledge of Jesus Christ which nothing can shake.” I can say today, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that, yes, I have such a history. I know Jesus, and he knows me. That may sound arrogant, but there is nothing of arrogance in this. As I look at the teachings of Jesus each day, especially those in the Beatitudes, I am made more and more aware of my condition without him. I am, indeed, “poor in spirit.” I know my condition! I know that I have nothing to call my own, except the sin that I bring to the foot of the cross! I have no “good” in me. “You are good, you are good, when there’s nothing good in me!” I am recognizing the necessity of mourning over sin, especially my own. There is an increasingly intimate connection with Jesus going on, and I don’t want to stop it…I don’t want to mess this up.

I will continue to learn more about doctrine. Nothing wrong with that. But it will no longer be more important than that connection, that intimacy with my Savior.

Father, I thank you for this intimate connection with Christ. Yet, it is not intimate enough. I pray that it be deeper. Draw me closer, by your Spirit. Each day, as the day closes, I can look back and identify times when I failed to display the characteristics of the Beatitudes in my life, or the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians. At the end of this day, I want to be able to look back and say that I was gentle, kind, patient, loving, joyful, peaceful, good, faithful, and had self-control. I want to be able to say that I was poor in spirit, that I mourned over sin, that I was meek, that I was pure in heart, that I helped someone find the peace of God, that I was merciful, and that I hungered and thirsted for your righteousness.

Let me not doubt you. May my faith be strong, even in times of stress and crisis. Give me courage to believe in you at all times, and to trust that you have everything in my life in your hands, under your control. May my prayers be effective, as I lift others up to you. And by “effective,” I mean that I desire to be praying your heart for people, not just asking for what they/I want. I’m not asking you to do what I want you to do. I’m asking you for the desires of your heart to be my desires. “Break my heart for what breaks yours.”

I think I’m rambling now, Lord. I pray that you keep me focused on you throughout this day. I ask for Christi to have a good work day, and that you would relieve the pain that she continues to feel. She is strong, Lord. She endures it. But I know that it wears her down, and I pray that you would heal it, whatever is causing it. I pray that you would touch Stephanie today, inspiring her to know you more, to pray and study your words. Give us all your peace today.

My life goal, at least in this matter, will be to know Jesus more than what I know about him. I desire to learn more, yes. But I desire to know him more, as well.

Grace and peace, friends.