Good morning. It is Wednesday, the nineteenth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
Only four days until Hamilton! I’ve gotten both emails and phone calls encouraging me to visit the Bass Performance Hall website to see protocols for entering the theater, so it appears to be on schedule.
I’m up before C, this morning. She gets up at 6:45 when she’s working from home. I sometimes sleep until she gets up, but this morning, I was awake, so I got up. I will admit it was a rough night of sleep with the new CPAP machine. It’s different, and I think the pressure is lower. I just have to get used to it. I believe it will get better.
I work from 9:15-6:15 today, in circulation. The schedule has settled back into normality, now, so that’s good. Last night went well, and there were only a couple of carts to be shelved. A third one was added, later, by the tech services folks, but I didn’t have time to get to it.
I’m moving on to the devotional, because I don’t want to run out of time.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord, I dedicate this day to You. May my feet walk only where You want them to walk. May my eyes see only what You want them to see. May my ears hear only what You want them to hear. May my mouth say only what You want it to say. May my mind think only what You want it to think.
"Silent, surrendered, calm and still, open to the word of God. Heart humbled to his will. offered is the servant of God."
“In all that is going on around me, all the movement, all the noise, Can I find a moment of calmness and stillness now, Can I feel God’s presence here, And surrender myself to it, Opening myself to listen to God’s word?”
Father, still my heart and soul as I enter into Your presence, seeking life and wisdom from Your Word. Guide my meditations, this morning.
And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!" Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field." Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand." When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51 ESV)
This is a long, familiar, passage of Scripture, often referred to as the story of David and Goliath. Often cited in sporting events, we see an underdog defeating the favorite “champion.” We often celebrate when an underdog wins (unless the favorite was the team we always root for, of course).
But we go deeper into this story. The thing that I take away from it is nestled in verse 37. The faith of David is seen in his statement to Saul. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul had no comeback to this, and simply told David to go, “and the LORD be with you.”
It is easy to see David as being cocky and arrogant in this story. He was young. We really don’t know, I don’t think, how old he was, but they keep calling him a “youth.” The Hebrew word is “na’ar,” which literally means, “a boy” or “a girl,” somewhere between birth through adolescence. But he was old enough to have worked as a shepherd, and he had, reportedly, killed a lion and a bear in that service. And arrogant as he seemed, he credited the Lord with those feats.
And he was ready to give God all the glory in this battle, as well. As we look at the different “players” in this story, Saul, Goliath (and his shield-bearer), David, and God (mentioned eight times), I see God as the most important. That may be obvious to some, but maybe not to others. I believe that the Lord directed that stone, as it flew from the slingshot in David’s hand.
There is an aspect to this story that we don’t, I believe, often consider. In the midst of the miracle, there is something we miss. David was a child. Maybe he was twelve or thirteen. Maybe. But he was most definitely younger, by at least a few years, than the minimum age that we in the U.S. determine a young man or woman old enough to go to war. He grew up in a culture that was well-familiar with battle and war. And he willingly, as a child, went out to fight against and kill a man.
This is not simply some fairy tale, with a glamorous ending. This is life in the trenches, and, perhaps something that should be considered as we ponder the miracle. To me, it is chilling. It is brutal. But, to David, it seems to have been just another day. The reason I even bring this up is because it is far too easy for us, sitting in our easy chairs, to judge others.
I never had to go fight in a war. I was never in the military. I missed out on the draft, by the grace of God, I say. Others weren’t so lucky. Some of my friends enlisted and served willingly. God had other plans for my life. And I am grateful beyond measure that I never had to face any of that. So I read this story, now, from a slightly different perspective, understanding that I don’t truly understand anything about war and its elements. There is also a lot I don’t understand about how God works and the things He does. But I, like David, trust Him to fight my “battles” for me.
Father, in this tale of underdog beats champion, I see Your strength and I see Your purpose. I see Your orchestration of events. But it is easy for me to look at this history, which I have read hundreds of time, and see how You worked through it. In fact, every time I read it, I can see more of You. It’s not so easy to look at current circumstances and feel the same way, because we haven’t seen the outcome. We have no idea what is “around the bend” for us. What I do know, though, is that, as I walk in Your Kingdom, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be. And, like David, I trust in Your hand to provide and protect me. And, like Job, I can firmly say, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
(From Pray As You Go)
As I quoted a verse from Job, it reminds me of Eugene H. Peterson’s chapters on Job in Symphony of Salvation. I find it interesting that Peterson thought Job to be important enough to dedicate four chapters to the book. The fourth one is called “Entering the Suffering,” and primarily deals with our tendency, as humans, to try to prevent and/or alleviate suffering.
Peterson cautions against doing like Jobs “friends,” who pontificated while believing that they could actually “fix” his troubles, or make him “better.” I addressed that in a previous blog entry.
“We may look at our suffering friends and imagine how they could have better marriages, better-behaved children, better mental and emotional health.” The first thing we need to know is that, regardless of how well-intentioned (or even accurate) our assessment may be, “we don’t really understand the full nature of our friends’ problems.” Never, EVER tell someone, “I know how you fell.”
No. You don’t. Even if you have been through the same thing, yourself, you most certainly DO NOT KNOW HOW THEY FEEL!
A second thing to understand is that they may not want our help or advice. Notice that Job never asked his friends for advice.
There is an ironic third thing to understand. “More often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more. When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.” This thought is directed more toward people who have this fallacious idea that God never wants His people to suffer.
So, looking back up there at our natural tendency, which is to prevent or alleviate suffering, perhaps we should not focus on that, but, rather, simply focus on “entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able – entering the mystery and looking around for God.” Don’t feel sorry for the person who is suffering. “Look up to them, learn from them, and – if they will let us – join them in protest and prayer.”
Granted, it is difficult to know exactly how to follow Job’s lead, here. But we do know that God finally spoke. His answer, though, wasn’t exactly what Job was looking for.
And now, finally, GOD answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said: . . . Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! . . . "And have you ever ordered Morning, 'Get up!' told Dawn, 'Get to work!' So you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches? . . . "Can you get the attention of the clouds, and commission a shower of rain? Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders? (Job 38:1, 4, 12-13, 34-35 MSG)
The book of Job should be read “prayerfully and meditatively” as we face questions that arise during suffering, when our lives don’t turn out the way we planned or expected. We can ask the questions . . . there is no harm in this. We may get stock answers from “friends,” but we keep asking, maintaining our dignity in suffering. Eventually, we realize that “suffering calls our lives into question, not God’s. The tables are turned: God-Alive is present to us. God is speaking to us.”
“I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
(Job 42:5-6 MSG)
Father, may we all stop living by rumors and strive to know You in reality.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I pray that, as I walk through this day, I will be aware of the suffering of people. Perhaps not anyone I encounter directly, but simply knowing that there are people who are suffering. If any of my friends enter into such suffering, help me have the wisdom to enter into it with them, not offering advice or help, but, rather, simply being with them. When things don’t go the way we expect, may Your Spirit enable us to ask hard questions of You, boldly, not unlike David as he faced Goliath, knowing that You can take it, and will not be angered or offended at our questions. Most of all, make Yourself known to us, through all of our life-circumstances, good or “bad.” All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The revelation of GOD is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of GOD are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes. GOD's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of GOD are accurate down to the nth degree. God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You'll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. (Psalms 19:7-10 MSG)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I have the ability to read, and comprehend what I read 2. for the ability to quiet my soul and know the presence of God 3. that I have learned to trust in the Lord in all circumstances 4. that my life has been relatively free from suffering and has been peaceful 5. for the Word of God and the value it has in my life
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.