July 2012


“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding” (Isaiah 40:28, NLT).

We have earthquakes all the time in Southern California, most of which we don’t notice because they are so small on the Richter scale. Every now and then a stronger one shakes us up and reminds us a big one could be in our future. When this happens, geologists talk about the earth releasing energy. Major weather events, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis, are also described as having massive energy.

All the energy we see around us is minuscule compared to God’s energy. He never grows weak or weary and never needs sleep. His vitality, vigor and potency (great synonyms of energy) are off the charts—these words don’t even begin to describe the life force which is God. He is life and he is the source of life. How blessed we are that in his love and by his grace, he chooses to share his life with us, both now and for eternity.

“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps” (Psalm 121:3-4, NLT).

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to sleep? Sometimes when I have a lot going and not enough time to get everything done, or even when I’m reading a good book and don’t want to turn out the light, I’ve thought it would be great not to have to waste eight hours sleeping. But that’s not how life works. Even fish have to sleep! It wouldn’t be so bad if we all woke up cheery, bright-eyed and bursting with energy, but most people I know drag themselves out of bed and need coffee or in my case, tea, to get going.

God has been accused of napping when we think he’s supposed to be on the job. After all, isn’t he all powerful? Why does he let bad things happen? He has his reasons, but it’s not because he needs sleep. He never dozes off like a driver who veers into the wrong lane and causes a wreck. God is always fully awake in a way we can’t even imagine—awake to life, to us and to the whole universe. His wakefulness is something we can count on, even while we’re sleeping.

“The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NLT).

Most of us Christians don’t have to worry about suffering bodily harm because of our faith, but we do sometimes experience ridicule, scorn and prejudice. We all get lumped together when one expresses an unpopular opinion or an indiscretion is made public. Recent polls have revealed the growing apathy or even distaste many have for Christianity in general and Christians in particular.

For the most part, I’ve given up worrying what people think of me and what I believe. As a friend once said, if God is in your grandstand, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because he’s the only one who matters. Our goal is not to please people, but to please him. And since we know we are loved as dear children, we please him simply because we are his. The hard part is loving those who are displeased with us. Thankfully, he helps us do that and helps us pray for them as well. He is not only on our side, but on everyone’s side!

“And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!” (2 Chronicles 33:13, NLT).

A common misconception about Christians is they are more concerned about following rules than about people’s feelings. All you have to do is watch movies or television shows featuring stern, beady-eyed, narrow-minded, my-way-or-the-highway religious zealots to learn how Christians are viewed today. As a result, God is seen in a similar light—unbending, unyielding and inflexible.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus, the perfect reflection of God the Father, was moved to tears on many occasions. His compassion was well known among the people who followed him,  heard him, talked to him and were healed by him. His compassion didn’t start in the New Testament, however. The God who shed tears as he healed the sick and brought the dead back to life in the early first century is the same God who was moved by the prayers of Manasseh. He is the same today. He feels our pain, suffers with us and will one day wipe the tears and do away with our sorrow. He cares like no other.

“Amaziah asked the man of God, ‘But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?’ The man of God replied, ‘The Lord is able to give you much more than this!’” (2 Chronicles 25:9, NLT).

Amaziah was a king of Judah who, like any new ruler, took stock of his troops and organized his army so he could be ready to defend his nation. He counted 300,000 trained soldiers, but just to be on the safe side, he hired another 100,000 fighting men from Israel. A man of God came to him and told him the Lord wasn’t with Israel and if he took those troops with him into battle, he would lose. When Amaziah expressed concern about all the silver he had paid for the extra troops, the man of God told him the Lord could give him much more than this. So he cut his losses and sent them home. Things didn’t end up too well for him, but that’s another story.

We often do the same as Amaziah—we organize, prepare, count everything and insure everything. In spite of what we do, we will suffer many losses, but God is able to give us so much more than this life! He sees our pain and understands our sense of loss, which is normal and part of being human. He helps us through the grieving process by giving us hope in the future we have in Christ—a better, richer, full to the brim life, with no more loss and no more grieving. He can indeed give us so much more.

“‘Listen to me, my people. Hear me, Israel, for my law will be proclaimed, and my justice will become a light to the nations’” (Isaiah 51:4, NLT).

Balance

Balance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When people do terrible things to each other, we often hear the families of the victims call for justice. But when we say we want justice, what we really mean is we want someone to be punished, and usually severely. It’s a normal reaction to being wronged and understandable from our limited human perspective.

We don’t understand justice from God’s point of view, but we can be pretty sure it’s a far cry from we think it should look like. God’s justice is a perfect light that shines on everyone, just like the sun. It is always paired with righteousness, which is another hard word to pin down as it’s usually paired with “self.” God’s justice and righteousness are pure, perfect and always rooted in love because he is love. One day we’ll understand and love justice as much as he does and everyone will live in its light.

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NLT).

I’ve met a lot of people over the years, beginning of course in kindergarten. I wish I could say I remember everyone, but sadly, I’ve forgotten most of them. Unless you’ve lived in a small town all or most of your life, where everyone knows everyone, you can probably relate. I’m looking forward to a big reunion in heaven, where we can reconnect (and not just on Facebook) and really get to know each other.

I’m no doubt one of the many forgotten by those I have forgotten. None of us can remember as much as we would like. God is the only one who doesn’t forget, and not just because he has a good memory. His is a great, divine awareness. No one is ever lost to him or out of his “sight.” The only thing he will ever forget is our sin, covered by grace, which he chooses to put out of his mind, as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:2). How wonderful to know that even though we forget each other, he will never forget us.

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