Hearing the Music!

Sweet Surrender

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It has been a while, but I still remember the days of holding our infants while they fight sleep. Often sleep is the very thing they need, but embracing it, surrendering to it will not come. But then the moment does come when they can fight no longer and sleep overtakes them. Such sweet surrender; very few things are as peaceful as a child at rest. David captures this picture in Psalm 131, talking about the surrender of the believer, "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me."

Throughout our series on Exodus we have been talking about belief and belonging. If you are looking for a single word that captures the idea of what it means for an individual to believe and belong, surrender comes as close as any word. Believing is not merely an intellectual activity, but it is a giving up of counter-arguments, a lowering of defenses and an active trusting in the truths of the Gospel story. Through this surrender we find that we are held by a loving Father, and we belong to him.   

Milton Vincent, in a helpful little book called The Gospel Primer, describes the life of the Jesus follower this way: "I am called by God to daily surrender the members of my being…it could be said that 'sanctification' is merely the lifelong process wherein I joyfully surrender myself to God's imputed righteousness and then do whatever this righteousness directs me to do. Indeed, God has clothed me with His righteousness. Now he wants this righteousness to master me…[that I may] experience the full breadth of eternal life that God has given to me in Christ."

I realize that the above quote has some technical language, so feel free to mull it over or ask questions if you need to. However, despite the technicality the picture is clear. Like a little baby, when we stop fighting sleep, stop exercising our stubborn will, we experience a graciousness beyond anything we can imagine as we rest in the provision of the Father.

As we pick up Exodus 4 on Sunday we see Moses fighting sleep. God is asking for his surrender and Moses will not go down without a fight. What a window into our own souls… But take heart, YHWH will not give up!

 

Photo by Pankaj Karnewar on Unsplash

in trials

Wilderness

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And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” … Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

(Exodus 2:21,22 & 3:1)


On my mind this week is the wilderness; the barren, empty places of life where people have a very good chance to meet their God. Perhaps I am thinking about this because I have taken a little “staycation” this week, helping to run the household while Lisa is out of the country. It has been good to have different rhythms and routines, to have space where there is frequently busyness. It has allowed for unhurried conversations with kids and neighbors. It has encouraged reflection and refreshment.  

In my case this wilderness time was sought and welcomed. Like with Moses above, that isn’t always the case. Often the wilderness is unsought and unwelcome. A couple of years ago our daughter Sophia faced the wilderness after blowing out her ACL. Folks at Christ Church have walked the wilderness of job loss. Others have agonized in the wilderness that comes after losing a loved one. The wilderness comes in different shapes and sizes, sometimes a welcome journey and other times an unwanted destination thrust upon unwitting sojourners.

The question to consider is when we find ourselves sojourning in an unwanted place, will we be open to a meeting with our God? So often it is in the wilderness that we find ourselves more available, more vulnerable, more open to hearing from the Lord than when we are in the regular rhythms of life. It is in the wilderness, stripped of comforts and distractions, that we are able to hear the still small voice of the Spirit; maybe convicting, maybe comforting, but always wooing us to a closer walk with our Shepherd.    

When those wilderness times come, may we learn to embrace them and sing with the hymn writer:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

(Chorus)
Savior, Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief
Kneeling there in deep contrition
Help my unbelief

Trusting only in Thy merit
Would I seek Thy face
Heal my wounded, broken spirit
Save me by Thy grace

Thou the spring of all my comfort
More than life to me
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in Heav’n but Thee?

 

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Looking This Way and That

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I am looking forward to diving into the next section of Exodus this Sunday (Chapter 2, verses 11-25). It is a key part of Moses’ education in becoming a leader. It is rife with palace intrigue, violent death, escape from danger and romance! There is much in these few verses, and I pray the Holy Spirit will be our guide as we feed on them together.

As a bit of an appetizer consider these verses: "One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand" (Exodus 2:11-12).

Much of this we will get into on Sunday, but for now just notice the phrase "he looked this way and that”. Much ink has been penned on whether Moses’ actions in taking out the Egyptian were ethical or not. I think the text leads us in the direction of saying Moses' action here was premeditated. He knew what he was doing was not right and he was checking horizontally to see if he would be found out. What I want to invite us to notice just for a minute is Moses’ failure to check vertically, in other words the absence of Moses bringing his situation up to the Lord and seeking His wisdom.

How often I am like Moses! I am more concerned about what is going on around me, here on planet earth, than I am concerned about what the One who made planet earth is thinking. On the one hand I gauge how the winds are blowing because I need to feed my idols of human approval. On the other hand I check to see if the coast is clear to avoid the pit of shame over being found out. In the end I look "this way and that” and forget that I am living coram deo, before the face of God.

But, here is the good news. God doesn’t reject Moses for his lapse! Rather, he keeps pursuing this in-process man. God is going to take this “cracked pot” and use him to effect the greatest rescue in the world to date. It is this theme of his “power made perfect in our weakness” that gives us the directive, when we are standing in our Egypts facing our Egyptians, to look up because his "grace is sufficient" for us! (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

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