Today is Thursday, the twenty-fourth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent. I have it on good authority that Lent is halfway through. Easter is on April 17, so that seems about right.
May the peace of Christ flood your soul today!
Yesterday was a fantastic day, for the most part. C worked from home, so we were all here. Our new stand-alone pantry was delivered, mid-day, and C and I assembled it, yesterday evening. It looks very nice and fits exactly where we wanted to put it. My stock of Crazy Water fits nicely on the bottom shelf, and we cleaned out several of the shelves in the kitchen pantry, making room for cans and whatnot that we brought from Mama’s house, last week.
Today, I am driving Mama back to Mineral Wells to take care of a couple of tasks that must be done right away. Well one of them has to be done right away, and the other is somewhat pressing. C successfully got her Suddenlink Internet and cable canceled last week, so we need to retrieve the boxes from Mama’s house and send them back to Suddenlink. That’s the main reason for this trip. In addition, Mama needs to stop by her accountant’s office and pay some tax money to finish that process for the year. She also has a few more things at the house that were forgotten last Saturday.
C’s company is doing something special for the directors today. She doesn’t know what, other than they will be having lunch “outside.” The last time I remember something like this, they were all taken to see the latest Star Trek movie. So I’m thinking it will be something fun, at least.
That’s pretty much all I have, so I’ll get into the devotional for the day.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)
Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I am alive and breathing; seriously, I'm just happy to be alive today 2. that, in spite of everything around us, as I walk in the Kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be (that's a Dallas Willard-ism) 3. that I am perfectly comfortable with remembering that I am dust, and to dust I shall return 4. for my sense of humor, and the fact that laughter exists 5. for the life that I have, and for God's admonition to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 8:15, "eat . . . drink, and . . . be merry")
Today’s prayer word is “humor.” I’m sure there are people out there who think that there is no place for humor in prayer. I’m not so sure I agree with that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.
While I acknowledge that prayer is serious business, I also know (or at least strongly believe, I guess) that God has a sense of humor. Once again, just look at the platypus or giraffe.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” I love that quote. And this is why, as a general rule, I have never been that fond of crass humor. I like humor that makes me think. I even like when I have to examine a joke (or Facebook meme) for a few seconds before I laugh.
Oh, and I seriously love puns. So much.
So how can humor fit into prayer? I don’t, for example, think I need to be telling jokes to God. But who knows? The problem is, you can’t tell Him one that He hasn’t heard, right?
Me: Hey, God, stop me if You've heard this one! God: Stop.
Or maybe, just maybe, He might say, “I’ve heard it, but go ahead, anyway.” That’s the kind of Father I picture Him as.
No, I think that, while there are times when we should agonize in prayer, maybe even sweat drops of blood (I’ve never done that), there are also times when our spiritus should be lighter than air when we come before the Father, and there might even be a tinge of humor in our lightheartedness. It’s never to say that we don’t take it seriously. But maybe we need to not take ourselves so seriously?
(From Pray a Word a Day)
For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastes 12:7 NLT)
The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
(Psalms 22:26 NLT)
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
(1 Corinthians 15:43-44 NLT)
People make up a lot of stuff about what “heaven” will look like and what our bodies (there seems to be some indication that there will be bodies) will look like. But it’s all speculation, because we really don’t have a lot of information about it. There’s probably a reason for that. As much as I long for Home, can you imagine what that longing would look like if I knew what kind of body I’m going to have, or what that “mansion” will look like?
Or maybe it’s not going to be quite what we imagine, and we might be disappointed, and our longing for it would diminish.
Back to the idea of not taking ourselves to seriously, I love the thing that the minister says when he or she rubs ashes in the shape of a cross on someone’s forehead (I’ve never done this, but hope to next year). “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That’s what that verse in Ecclesiastes says.
This is not to produce a sense of hopelessness in us. I can see how it might. “Oh, I’m just dust, and there is no hope for me to improve on that.” No. I don’t believe we are supposed to think like this. I think it is to force us to remember that we are not the center of the universe. I am stuck, for now, in this “mortal coil,” this body. While I don’t go along with Gnosticism that says all flesh is evil (and, yes, there is still a remnant of that thinking, even in today’s evangelical church), I do know (or at least believe strongly) that this flesh is yet to be redeemed. It will be, though, someday, and Scripture seems to indicate that I will have some kind of “glorified body.”
(Scripture also tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ, and I have no idea what that is going to look like “when we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.” What if we are all joined together, spiritually, into one “physical body,” of which Jesus Christ is the “head?” What if we are all joined into one body that is the Bride? But that’s not a topic I’m prepared to tackle today.)
We are beloved of God. We cannot possibly overemphasize this. But we are also dust, and to dust we shall return. If I die today, and fifty years later, someone digs up my casket, they will not find this body. They will find nothing but bones (and I’m not even totally sure about that) and dust. My body will be “buried in brokenness,” but it will, one day, be raised in glory. For now, it is just dust, and I need to remember that.
And, I need to, as the writer of Ecclesiastes has so eloquently told us, enjoy my time on this earth, in this sack of dust, jar of clay, meat-suit, or whatever you want to call it, and do whatever my hands find to do with all my might, and “eat, drink, and be merry.”
And, to cement these ideas, even further, here is what I read from Eugene Peterson, today, in a reading called “To Be, to Do.”
“Just to be, just to do – these are the two great gifts of God, the foundations of every other gift. We need to return to these two great capacities again and again and cultivate them.
“The events of daily life need to be placed in perspective by a deep sense of prayer, by learning how to be before God. Then, as reality closes in on us, we will perceive each event as the working of the Holy Spirit, carefully designed for our particular needs. Every event is a touch of the living finger of God, which is sketching in us – body, soul, and spirit – the true image of his Son, which the Father originally gave to us and is restoring.”
“Events of daily life need to be placed in perspective . . .” What better statement can be made for this day and this hour in our world? Our culture, these days, tends to look at every event as world-ending. Gas prices went up, so everything is over, it’s all terrible. But that’s because we Americans tend to think it’s all about “me.”
We all need to stop, breathe, and head for that “deep sense of prayer,” and learn “how to be before God.”
And remember that we are dust.
Father, I am happy, this morning. I am happy to be reminded that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. I am comfortable with my dustiness. I do not take myself too seriously (ask me again when the Internet breaks, though). I know that I am deeply flawed, and that this body will be buried in its brokenness, some day. I rejoice in the promise (I fully embrace this promise with my whole imagination) that that broken body will be raised again in glory, someday! Hallelujah!
And because of this, I do try to look at live events, and world events, in the perspective of one who has entered in the depths of prayer, and is still learning how to be before You. I don’t have it down, yet, and acknowledge that I never will, not until I stand (or probably fall on my face) before You. Father, I thank You for this perspective that You have given me. I praise You that You have molded my heart and arranged the events of my life so that I have come to this place on this day, and that my mind and spirit take in this information and believe it and embrace it.
I am astounded that every event is a touch of Your living finger on both my life and on the fabric of this world. Don’t ever let me go, Lord. I will stray again, I’m sure. My feet will chase after something that is not on the path, and You will gently (or maybe not-so-gently) bring me back to it. I trust in You implicitly, Father, for You will always do (or allow) whatever is best for me and You.
So help me, Father, to display this knowledge and to reflect it in my daily life. Help me, the next time the Internet breaks (that’s my best example of when I tend to freak out), to put that event in perspective, to look at the “big picture,” and to see that things like that (like most things) are simply “footstool problems.”
All glory to You, Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.
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.