God’s Track Record with Me

imageWhen God moves, you’d better watch out. And I’ve seen him move, I’ve felt him clearing His throat and I’ve missed the “DUCK!” command when He suddenly shifts directions in the midst of something. It’s one part terror and one part awe. It’s one of those thing I’ve come to have a healthy respect for because those moments when the paradigm shifts, when the rug is pulled and when the clouds clear – those moments are the most amazing.

Tonight’s devotional is from 2 Samuel 7:18-29 and it’s content is King David talking to God about these things that have happened to bring him to this point – and in his conversation with The Big Guy David relates his understanding of the ‘Why’ as it concerns the promise to God’s people and the long term effect of bringing praise and honor to God from all corners of the Globe.

It’s a fascinating verse to read – and that’s the extent of my writing on today’s devotional. I’m going to go and dig into this chunk of verses with a highlighter and a critical mind. I’d encourage you to do so as well.

I use the term “marinate your brain” more than I probably should – but it’s exactly what I mean. Letting your brain soak in His Words for a good long while. Stir in the juices of contemplation, consternation and compassion – and let it sit for awhile longer. Take in the words, the phrases and the meaning of it all on a deeper level.

There’s reading The Bible and then there’s chomping down on it like a voracious and starved Lion on the hunt that won’t be satisfied until it tastes the depths of His Words for Us.

And God Help You!

imageI know I probably shouldn’t have been in bed before midnight on a Friday night. I knew that eventually God was going to give me a good shake or two for thinking I could avoid my quiet time. And I was right. So here I am at 11:30pm sitting in a barely lit corner of my living room hastily putting words to keyboard remembering that God has an incredible sense of humor. That sometimes I don’t get.

Tonight’s devotional is from 1 Samuel 17:31-40. It’s the classic story of David and Goliath in which King Saul puts the momentous armor on the little boy and watches as he shrugs it off. This same boy will come to haunt the old man after this moment because God has chosen David to be the next King. The path he takes to becoming King is one of the most incredible stories in itself and it is a telling one that leaves Saul and his son dead at the end.

I have my favorite parts of this story. The imagery of David ripping apart Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my!) in defense of his sheep is a powerful one. In imagining it tonight I turned my thoughts to Jesus and His Love for us – and how he would tear through the legions of Hell in defense of His Beloved Bride. It was a heartening reminder to me of the greatness of Jesus and how little I remember the depth, width and intensity of His Love for us.

The other part is a recent addition to my list and it comes tonight. It is Saul’s reaction to David’s impassioned speech about his actions protecting his flock and how God protected him then. David emphatically says that God Alive will deliver him from the Giant Goliath. Saul’s reaction? In the “NIV” it’s, “Go, and The Lord be with you.” In “The Message” it’s put plainly – “Go. And God help you!”

David’s absolute faith in his fate and his complete lack of worry leveled me tonight. In reading through the notes in my devotional it spotlights the idea of making the choice to move, “…the attention of our anxious hearts away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them.”

I’m a worrier. I’m big into carrying stress, fears and everything else for myself and others. Tonight reading this gave me a good ole’ fashioned Gibbs slap to the back of the head. I’ll leave you with what the devotional suggests to do. “Look at Him and say, ‘Lord have mercy.’ Say it again an again not anxiously but with the confidence that He is very close to you and will put your soul to rest.” The words come from Priest and Author Henri Nouwen.

And so that is my challenge today and through the weekend. Lord, have mercy.

Have mercy.

Talking With God

The story of Samson is another one of those Old Testament stories that I can’t claim to know from start to finish.  We all know the story of Samson and Delilah.  We all know how it ends with Samson having his final revenge on his captors by giving his life.  It’s a fantastic story of intrigue and wiles and a tremendous reflection of God and how He works in ways sometimes we’re not all that comfortable with.  In my last post I talked about how we as Christians have to reconcile the entirety of the Old Testament with it’s blood, gore, death, destruction and even (gasp) sex (Song of Solomon anyone?) with the general understanding we have of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and His sacrifice for us in Love, Mercy and Grace.

It’s something I’ve been recently challenged on with our young adults pastor just finished up pushing through the OT subject.  It is a revealing and troubling thing when you have to start thinking critically about things most of us would rather not talk about or even deign to accept as the reality of our Faith.  I always come back to the quote about Aslan from “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” when one of the animals answers a question about The Great Lion being safe by saying,

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our faith is never safe.  It is a rocking rolling adventure without end.  If anyone tells you different, slap ‘em with a fish.  Or whatever animal or vegetable you may have on hand.

And so when I look to Samson’s story it’s not a safe story.  It’s a messy story.  It’s violent, filled with stories of women behaving badly, men behaving badly and in the end the ultimate moment of answering to God for it all – the final curtain with Samson in the middle.  And it all started quietly enough with a man named Manoah and his wife who remains nameless.  Manoah’s wife has a visit from an Angel of God telling her despite her curse in not being able to have children she will indeed have a son and he’s going to save the world like Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and James Bond.  Perhaps not in that order, but you get the gist.

The part that I love about this entire thing is that when his unnamed wife tells him the story Manoah takes a step in talking to God.  He asks for more information and details.  God sends the Angel back but Manoah doesn’t realize it’s an angel until (in typical Angel fashion) the Angel of God ascends into heaven through the blazing flames of a sacrifice the man and his wife built.

They fell with their faces to the ground and Manoah loses his mind figuring fire, brimstone and lightening are coming for them because they’ve seen God.  His wife counsels them that God accepted their sacrifice as they talked to Him.  They will have a son named Samson.

It all starts here in Judges chapter 13.  Samson is born, grows up blessed by God and soon begins to feel the stirrings of the Spirit of the Lord.  There’s plenty more of the story but the part I focused on tonight was when they talked with the Angel and by proxy – God.  Manoah’s speaks plainly and simply to the Angel – something we can learn in our conversations with God.  It doesn’t have to sound High and Mighty with big words and practiced sayings.  It can simply be, “Dear God – I’m having/have had/going to have a helluva day.”  And take it from there.

I like the challenge of talking to him face down and I’ll be giving it a whirl this week.  How do you pray?  What do you find helpful in drawing you closer to God?

Until tomorrow – To God be the Glory, the Honor and The Praise in all things.