Today is Monday, the thirty-first of January, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time. The last day of January.
May the peace of Christ be with you today!
Today’s header photo is courtesy Paul Militaru. Please check out his fine photography at the link provided.
Yesterday was a day. It was, as it turns out, a pretty good day, but it was one of the more stressful days that I can remember, lately, and quite exhausting, at least mentally.
Right off the bat, let me say that no one was to blame for this. Circumstances arose that were out of anyone’s control, beginning, at least for our involvement, Saturday evening.
But what this is going to turn into, as the ongoing circumstance develops, is a praise report.
Look back a couple days ago, or so, and you will see an entry called “Disastrophe.” In it, I wrote about how the book of Ezekiel shows us that God works in and through catastrophe in our lives. We experienced the truth of this, yesterday.
The circumstance is that the plumbing in my mother’s house is clogged up, right now. Both toilets are backing up, and there are other issues, but the toilets are the primary, priority issue. We were already planning to go over there, yesterday, as S had an event at FBC that she wanted to attend, and we planned to have her there for that. So when Mama called Saturday evening to tell us about the problems, we decided to wait until Sunday morning to try to deal with them.
We dropped S off at the church and went over to the house. We chatted for a little while, serious talk about the eventuality that my mother wants to . . . okay, she doesn’t want to, but feels that the time is nigh for her to leave her home of almost sixty years. And, she expressed, to our surprise, her desire to come live with us for a while. Surprise because it had been previously expressed that she did not want to stay at our house, but might want an apartment or senior living space somewhere nearby.
After we talked a little while, and before we headed back up to the church for the worship service and lunch afterward, C took the short snake that we had brought and tackled one of the toilets. She actually got it to flush, and we went on to church.
As for plumbers, Mama had not been able to successfully contact any. She had called one that had been recommended, but had not been able to talk to them, as they had not returned her calls. While we were at church, I ran across a family friend, one of my high school teachers who is active in the visitation of elderly people who don’t get out much (we used to call them “shut-ins” when I was a kid), who gave me a name of a guy who does work like that, not an official “plumber,” but a handyman of sorts, who has actually done work for Mama before. But she was not aware that he was still doing work like that.
We got home from lunch, finally, and gave her the name. Of course, she remembered him, and still had his number. We talked some more, mostly about what kinds of things would need to happen in order for Mama to come live with us, and what kind of time line we were looking at. We are concerned with two things, at this point. One is getting the plumbing/toilets fixed asap, and the other is that there is an extreme cold front coming in mid-week, with snow and temps dropping to single digits. Doesn’t look anything like last year’s “Snovid” event, but still a bit unsettling. C really wanted to bring her home with us last night.
Shortly before we were getting ready to leave, Mama tried to call the guy, but he did not answer. She left him a message. We went to Braum’s to get her some milk and orange juice (and I needed to use the restroom). We got the milk and OJ, but someone was in the men’s room the entire time we were there! I waited close to fifteen minutes, too! One customer, as I was leaving opined that he would have just used the ladies’ room, as they are single occupancy. C even offered to stand watch while I did that, but I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Silly, perhaps, but whatever.
So we went back to the house (I figured I could wait on the restroom until we hit up a convenience store on the way out of town in a few minutes) to deliver the milk and OJ. Just as we were saying our goodbyes, the phone rang. Mama figured it was a good friend who was supposed to call her back, but it was the handyman. We waited while she talked to him. He is supposed to be there, sometime this morning, with a super-duper snake machine, and feels that he can fix the problem.
So let’s lay out how we believe God worked through all of this. I realize that skeptics would call all of this coincidence. I, personally, do not believe in coincidence or “luck” (even though I do, sometimes, use the word “lucky”). I ran into my old teacher/family friend at church, who gave me the name of the handyman that my mother had used before and trusted. Now, here’s the thing that blows my mind. If I had not been delayed at Braum’s, trying to use the restroom, an inconvenience and annoyance to me, because whoever was in there wouldn’t come out, we likely would not still have been at Mama’s house when the guy called back, and would have left her with little peace about what was going to happen. As it turns out, we had great peace when we left, and were able to relax and get a good night’s sleep when we got home.
So, catastrophe, yes. Stressful, to the max, yes. But God worked. It is not finished yet, but we at least have something in the works that has good potential. And there is the beginning of a plan to move my mother into our house, soon. No idea how soon, but it’s at least in the works.
Well, that got long, and probably could have been its own entry, but I’ll carry on from here. Today is a typical Monday. C is back at the office again, and I’ll be doing some housework, during the day. It’s my “heavy” week at the library, working Tuesday evening, all day Wednesday, Friday (weather permitting), and Saturday.
I have also managed to get in my Wordle for the day.
Wordle 226 4/6*
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"God of grace and truth, make me whole, a person of integrity who heals and makes peace. I pray for eyes that see what's best in others, a graceful and candid mouth, hands that never twist but hold up truth, a heart that aims to encourage, and feet that pursue my neighbor's best. Amen."
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me; Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (Psalms 31:3, 16, 24 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for the way God works through apparent catastrophes 2. that the Lord is my rock and my fortress and that He leads me and guides me 3. for the sovereignty of God over all creation 4. that You are holding me by the hand, leading me to live right and well 5. that You bind up that which was broken (Ezekiel 34:16)
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." For he was saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many." And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, "Send us to the pigs; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. (Mark 5:1-13 ESV)
Can you picture this scene in your imagination? What do you think this “wild man” looked like? Living in the tombs, according to Luke’s version, he was also naked, wearing no clothes. Night and day, he would cry out or howl and cut or bruise himself with stones. Sounds like the making of a good adventure movie, doesn’t it? Can you imagine what the howls sounded like?
Notice that the demons inside the man recognized Jesus immediately, running to Him, and throwing the man down at His feet. The “spokesdemon” even begged Jesus not to torment him. I wonder how Jesus looked at this man . . . what kind of expression did He have on His face?
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:14-20 ESV)
Can you now imagine the man, clothed, and sitting in front of Jesus, “in his right mind?” Why do you think the people begged Jesus to leave? Was it because they were so selfish that all they could think about was their pigs? I suppose that is always possible, knowing humanity the way we do. But I think there is also a key in verse 15. “They were afraid.” Something, someone “Other” was in their midst. Someone who had the kind of power that could do this thing, someone who was more powerful than whatever it was that had plagued this man for a long time.
I can’t help but wonder what it felt like to be in His presence at that moment. I have to believe that the air must have been thick with the power and presence of God. I mean, I know what it feels like when I get a taste of His presence in my room, here. This had to have been multiplied exponentially!
Do we know someone who might be suffering in the way that this man was suffering? Perhaps not possessed by “legions” of demons, but suffering in some other way. How can we pray for these people? We can speak to God, through Jesus, the One who has this kind of power, and we can have confidence that He will answer.
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.
"I am GOD. I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe." (Isaiah 42:6 MSG)
Of David. I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalms 138:1-8 ESV)
In that Isaiah passage, there are several translations that have God saying, “I will hold your hand,” or, “I will take you by the hand.” Surely we are all familiar with the image of God holding us in His hand. Who doesn’t know the old gospel song, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands?” But how often do we think of God, whose “hand” is big enough to hold the world, taking our hand and holding us by the hand?
What a wonderful image. Just as God called Isaiah to “live right and well,” my God has called me to do the same, and He has pledged to take responsibility for me. There are many times in my life that I have experienced Him holding me in His hand or in His arms. But I have also known times when I believe that He is holding me by the hand and leading me.
Someday, that righteous right hand that gives me the confidence to “be not afraid,” will take my hand and lead me Home.
And today’s prayer word is “broken.” How’s that for “coincidence?” The verse given is short and sweet, from Ezekiel 34:16, where God says,
"I will . . . bind up the broken . . ." (NASB)
Most translations render that “injured” rather than broken. However, the KJV says this:
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
(Ezekiel 34:16 KJV)
Father, in the spirit of Ezekiel 34:16, today, I ask You to bind up my mother’s “broken” plumbing. Bring healing to whatever needs to be fixed in her house, please. I call upon that same power that Jesus had when He cast the legions of demons out of that wild man in the tombs, restoring him to his right mind. I call upon You who take us by the hand, that same hand that holds the entire world, to lead us onward, to lead us Home, eventually. You have given us grace upon grace, and I pray that this continues, as You demonstrate how You work in and through disasters and catastrophes. You have given peace in the midst of the “storm,” Father, and I thank You for this.
I pray that as cold weather approaches our area, it will not be as severe as last February’s winter storm. I pray that it would not even be as severe as is being predicted, and that we would not have any travel/transportation issues in our area, and that no one’s electricity or other means of power/heating will stop working. Protect us, Father, those of us who follow You as well as the ones who do not. I do not wish calamity on anyone.
Thank You for Your absolute sovereignty over Creation, for it gives me confidence to trust in You and hope that all things will work out for our good. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.