Hearing the Music

in Rest

COVID-19

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In 1854 London was facing a cholera plague. People were dying everywhere. Folks were afraid to go home and afraid to go out. In their fear they cried out for help and took measures for safety. In the middle of this, a minister named Charles Spurgeon continued to go about faithfully ministering despite his own fear and weariness. One day Spurgeon was feeling physically fatigued and spiritually discouraged, in his words: "I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.” Coming home from a funeral he happened upon a paper in a tradesmen’s window which his curiosity led him to read.  There he saw in good, bold handwriting these words: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”  (Psalm 91:9,10). In his words,"The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality.”

While not to the level of cholera, COVID-19 or coronavirus, has certainly come to America and is changing lives. As Christians, we believe in the God that Spurgeon experienced through Psalm 91. We have absolute trust that He is in control, that He is good, and that we can trust Him with our lives, our retirement accounts, our education - everything! I know that believing this is not always easy, God knows that too. His invitation is to lean on Him, to recall the presence of the Spirit and to practice our faith., In some ways it is like we have all gone to faith's gym and we have the opportunity to lift our “faith” weights as we actively put our trust in Him.  

Though social distancing may keep us from gathering as a body, let me remind you that there is no distance between our God and us as His people. He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust. He watches over us so that not a hair falls from our heads without His knowing. Let us both individually and collectively remember to draw close to Him in these days; to draw our strength and our hope from Him, even when all else may seem grim. 

One final note, again from Spurgeon during the cholera epidemic. Times like these try the faith of the believer, but for the unbeliever they are terrifying. If this life is all that one has and it is threatened, that is frightening. Spurgeon recounts an encounter with a man who had often opposed him as a minister of the Gospel. Spurgeon’s words, "That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips.”  We may be jars of clay, but we have a treasure. May God give us opportunities to share it.

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dealing with Symptoms

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I am writing this week from a lovely hospital room at Blodgett Medical Center overlooking Fisk Lake in EGR. Though the room is lovely, I would much rather be out enjoying the day, as would our daughter Lydia who has had to endure another flare up of a genetic condition which causes rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdo is no fun. It is characterized by a very painful break down of muscle tissue and the release of a protein into the blood stream, that if untreated will overwhelm her kidneys and could lead to death. Thankfully, we are learning to recognize the symptoms and got going on treating the rhabdo early, mitigating its effects.

The frustrating part of this whole pattern that Lydia has to endure is that, though we have learned to treat the rhabdo, in reality we are only treating symptoms. What we don’t fully understand is why this relatively rare condition is triggered in her. And, at an even deeper level, we don’t know how to treat the core issue that is the cause of all her distress.

This “treating of symptoms" is a picture of the way sin work in our lives. Over the course of our days and weeks, we deal with anger, greed, lust, sloth, needless worry, etc… Like rhabdo, these are serious, threatening to overwhelm us and need to be dealt with; but they are not our core issue. At core for all of us is the question of surrender and trust. Have we truly surrendered our need for control and our desire to justify ourselves, and have we begged Jesus to be our King? Or are we holding back, unable or unwilling to trust fully? 

Unlike Lydia’s battle with rhabdo, we do know the way to core health with the Savior. This week in Luke 9 we see that Jesus welcomes the crowds, speaks to them of the kingdom, and cures those who are in need of healing (v. 11). This is a Savior who does not despise the crowds. This is Lord who welcomes us in our infirmity. This is a King who is worthy of our surrender. In our battle with symptoms, Jesus invites us to get to the core and find our rest as we surrender to Him. What a joy it is to not merely have to deal with symptoms.

 

Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

in truth

A Blazing Truth

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Some of you may have seen the recent post from a Twitter account run by Atheists. In this particular post they were trying to make light of the claims of Christianity, but the effect is quite the opposite. Here is their Tweet:

CHRISTIANITY: Belief that one God created a universe 13.79 billion yrs old, 93 billion light yrs in diameter (1 light yr = approx. 6 trillion miles), consisting of over 200 billion galaxies, each containing ave. of 200 billion stars, only to have a personal relationship with you.

Putting aside the specifics of the science, this claim is absolutely spot on, and precisely the reason why the Gospel is so amazing! This immense universe, created by an all-powerful God, who far from being an absentee landlord, enters his own creation in order to initiate a relationship with his creatures…truly humbling, awesome.

This is exactly what we have been encountering throughout the book of Luke. Here we see this God with power over every molecule of the universe, entering in and engaging with his creatures with an overflowing fountain of grace. This week we will encounter yet another incidence of this in Luke 8:40-56 as we come alongside of Jesus' interactions with an ostracized woman and a temple leader. In both interactions he demonstrates that his power is precisely positioned to draw people in. As we enter this Lenten season through both our study of the Word and the weekly communion at the table of our Lord, may we too be drawn into this relationship for which he died.

Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash

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