O Lord, you search me and you know me

If I take the wings of the dawn
and dwell at the sea’s furthest end,
even there your right hand would lead me
–Psalm 139

How much do I have to eradicate sin from my life before God will use me to carry out his eternal purpose?

Can I presume to call on him in faith and trust if I am sinning?

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! for I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
–Isaiah 6

What does God want from me?

Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, an his grace to me has not been ineffective.
–First letter of Paul to the Corinthians 15

It is incumbent upon us to discern our sins and remove them as we can. But we don’t know our real sins, we can never discern it without God’s Love and Grace.

When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish and their nets were tearing…. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
–Luke 5

The Lord knows my sins, and he knew them when he made me. Not because we have no free will, but because he knows us the way we know our children. Before my twelve year old explodes in rage at his brother, I know he will do it. I don’t cause it, I don’t want it, I help him to resist this temptation, but I can see when it is past his ability to endure. I forgive him when he comes to his senses.

Already you knew my soul
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret
and being molded in the depths of the earth

Sometimes God has to change things in our lives and our souls disordered by sin and evil drastically. This is especially true if we have suffered abuse. He works in secret, in the dark of the earth, shifting and pulling the evil that distorted us, helping us finally to accept his love and Grace, without which we can have nothing.

The Lord will complete what he has done for me: your kindness, O Lord, endures forever; forsake not the work of your hands.
–Psalm 138

I remain here in faith and prayer. Choosing God, even as I sin.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it, and said, “See now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said, “send me!”
–Isaiah 6


Rest A While

Jesus serves the multitude, healing, feeding, teaching, but then he goes away to rest.

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6

The greatest mystery about rest is that the opportunity for such has almost nothing to do with our outward circumstances. Rest is a state of mind. Detachment from outcomes.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes. Psalm 23

Never wait for life circumstances to be perfect to rest. Rest now. God is with you, surrounding you, protecting you from your enemies, from the darkness that pretends it can overwhelm you. Turn your eyes to the mysterious, invisible reality. God is with you.

As a Bridegroom Rejoices in His Bride

…So shall your God rejoice in you. — Isaiah

Anytime the Bible talks about weddings, or marriage, or the Bridegroom and the Bride or being a spouse, two things can happen in our minds.

The first is a tendency to start thinking about actual marriages between people, as if these were Biblical instructions for us on how to be married.

The second is a feminist or black-pilled inspired deconstruction of text. A small mental scoffing, an inability to recognize what it truly means for the bridegroom to rejoice in the bride because we look at real life relationships as imagine that those are the models.

“No more shall people call you “Forsaken” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your Lord rejoice in you.”

What does it mean to be the bride of the Lord? It means the Lord loves you, he cherishes you. And he lavishes gifts on you. The problem is, when you think of a rich man with a beautiful wife the tendency is to think “this guy is just paying for sex” or “this girl is just a gold digger.”

But those are not the characteristics of the Lord and his beloved.

The Lord loves you. And if you say yes to him, he will shower you with gifts. But his gifts aren’t necessarily fine clothes and shoes and jewels, or a big house, or money. They are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and he gives them to us to serve each other.

“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter.

But the main gift that God the Bridegroom gives to our soul, His Spouse, is life. Life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Very Little Life in a Lifetime

When I focus on goal setting and making habits I have three different kinds of goals I make. Habits, Targets, Achievements.

We are Always getting ready to live, but never living…

The work of self-improvement–always under the nose,–nearer than the nearest, is seldom…engaged in.

R. W. Emerson, Journal 1834

For Habits these are things of daily life that I want to do without thinking about. I want to take them off the decision table. Habits are such that, even when your daily life is disrupted, or you stop engaging in them for a day or two, you pick them right back up again with little to no effort.

A habit is something you don’t have to think about, it becomes a part of your identity. It can be diet, exercise, mental habits, ways you think about yourself or talk to yourself. Things you do. It is really really difficult to get a habit ingrained, but it is worth it. Last year, I worked on dietary and mental habits. The year before it was prayer. I am where I want to be with those. For 2019 I will work on exercise habits. I want to fold exercise into my daily life so I’m not making a schedule or setting targets, but just doing it.

Habits don’t imprison us, they support us.

Emerson quotes (including blog post title) from A Dream Too Wild: Emerson Meditations for Every Day of the Year, Barry M. Andrews, ed., (Skinner House Books: Boston, 2003), Jan 1 entry.

How does this Happen to me?

Song of songs is the story of how the Lord comes to our soul and coaxes us out of the rocks and cliffs we build to protect ourselves.

O my dove in the clefts of rock,

in the secret recesses of the cliff,

Let me see you,

let me hear your voice,

For your voice is sweet,

and you are lovely.

Song of Songs 2

Whether we are high in the hill country of Judea, like Elizabeth in the gospel today, or shut behind the walls of fathers, the Lord will come to us and our soul.

Our job is to come out, to follow him. To trust that we don’t need the structures we have built around our heart of hearts to protect us from the evils of men.

Our soul waits for the Lord,

who is our help and our shield,

For in him our hearts rejoice;

in his holy name we trust.

Psalm 33

I always pray to be like Elizabeth. To be given the gift of recognizing the Lord when he comes to my house to give me help.

Nothing is Impossible

Just a short post today to remember the most important lesson.

Nothing is Impossible with God..

The Lord’s are the earth and it’s fullness:

the world and those who dwell in it.

For he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the rivers.

Psalm 24

I don’t know what is coming next and I don’t know how to get there. I don’t know what I want and I don’t know how to achieve it.

Great peace floods out of a place of waiting and surrounds me like a placid lake. A boat will come.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

Who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24

Fear Not, O Worm Jacob

I am exhausted with my groaning;

every night I drench my pillow with tears;

I bedew my bed with weeping.

My eye wastes away with grief;

Psalm 6

In one of the books of the classic fantasy series The Belgariad, by David Eddings, there’s a scene that always struck me as a writer’s cheat. In it a character is told that a prophecy holds clues to a great danger he goes into the library to pour over them. While he’s there, the voice of the prophecy, which also lives inside his head (don’t ask), says to him, “Hey, you don’t need to read every word, just sort of let your eyes move over them and I’ll I make the relevant passages leap out to you.”

As a teenager reading this I was like “COME ON! ridiculous.” But as an adult with a daily habit of reading the Bible, I have had this experience many times. There are times when unimportant phrases and words in passages read many many times almost become brighter, standing out against a darker wall of text.

And sometimes an entire group of readings are clearly meant for me and my current situation, for hope and comfort.

I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand;

It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”

Fear not O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel: I will help you, says the Lord.

Isaiah 41

And maybe it will bother some to think of God referring to his people as maggots and worms, but for me, I see this kind of language as an honest reminder of the truth of my own power. Now, to be clear, I don’t have low self-esteem and I value work and personal responsibility and I try to put those values into place and teach them to my children. And they are important. But the experience of my life is that mere goals and striving can accomplish nothing. They are necessary but not sufficient for life. The importance of goals and striving is not to achieve external things, but to develop good character. But you must always remember that the goals you think you are working for are all vanity in the eyes of God.

This lesson might make you hopeless, until you reach a time in life when there is no forward progress, and indeed, not even to a path to walk on. Locked in a paradigm of goal setting and achievement, you will spin your wheels and grow frustrated and myopic. Put recalling the true goals will set you free.

I especially need to remember this when there are no goals to be achieved and my problems and obstacles are things I have no power over. In those times I like to remember there is only continuing to live in faith. In those times Isaiah leaps out to comfort.

I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 

I will open up rivers on the bare heights,

and foutains in the broad valleys;

I will turn the desert into a marshland, 

and the dry ground into springs of water.

I will plant in the desert the cedar,

acacia, myrtle, and olive….

Isaiah 41