Drift Wood

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Never fails.  I set a goal to blog every week, and some big life thing happens that seems to stretch out forever.  It has, yet again, been two weeks, and I have not posted.  So, I endeavor to do so now!

I mentioned in past blogs that I had memorized Hebrews 11.  I finished it before 2016 ended, which was my goal.  Since then I have been seeking where to go next for memory work.  It’s not like there aren’t a lot of options, but I want what is best for me right now.

I expect I will head into James.  It is a short book, and there is so much in it on how to live, that I think it is just a MUST.

For this week, however, I am working on Hebrews 12:1-2.

In recent past, I quit my job and am still moving.  I never do one thing at a time.  Change comes as a tidal wave for me, or it doesn’t come at all.  I have been on automatic pilot, as a result, and I know God is okay with that.  There have been many times in my life where I was simply riding the waves, not really exploring anything that would deepen my walk, and I know that God gives such seasons of grace for us to just survive and lean on him, sheltered in his wings.

At such times, I have a vision of myself on a piece of drift wood, passed out, as I ride the crest and fall of every wave.  I am so thankful for the drift wood, which is God’s grace and protection; the shadow of his wings to use another image.

Now, however, I am being called back to exploration.  Time is past for automatic pilot, and it is time to re-engage in God’s word, as it is so very powerful, and soldiers do not advance without their armor and their weapons.  That would just be stupid right?  I know that his word is mightier than any sword.

12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Yet how many times do we head out into the things of the world without all our spiritual gear?  And then we wonder what the heck happened.  Why did I get hit?  Why wasn’t I effective?  God, where are you and why weren’t you there?

The Bible says he will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  So what happens?  Well, we are running off to battle every day, missing our gear.  If you do not have your helmet on, you might easily take a head wound.  No breastplate, and you will likely receive a chest wound.  If you are not carrying your sword, which is truth that can only come from the word of God and his enlightenment through it, you are not going to be able to defend yourself.

It kills me the number of Christians who are committed to God, yet never read his word.  But, for many years, I was one of those people.

I think it intimidated me.

I also think it overwhelmed me.

I have learned some things in working with God’s word that help.  The first thing I do is pray that God will give me insight into what I am reading.  Sometimes I go to the stories of the Bible.  There are so many.  I grab a name like, say, Samuel, look it up (if I don’t know where to find him) in the back of my Bible, and go read about this person.  I have also started memorizing scripture, as it gives me a solid reference point.  I have also found that recall for scripture is much quicker when I have it memorized, and recall is necessary in a spiritual battle.

The danger with being on automatic pilot is that we run the risk of staying, and when God calls us back to service, which includes delving into his word, we choose not to listen.  We are too busy being absorbed in our frailties, and the idea of getting up off our drift wood to swim to our destination, is not something we want to do.

You understand what I mean when I say “petrified Christians”?  These are people who have literally become part of their drift wood.  They are apathetic or rigidly unbending.  What they are not, are contributors to the kingdom of God.

We cannot allow ourselves to stay in that place where we do nothing and try to coast.  God will either bring something along that rudely dislodges us from our drift wood, or, if we tenaciously cling to it, He will leave us there to atrophy.

So, let us endeavor to seek God’s word one visual bite at a time.  You are welcome to join me in memory work.  At the beginning of this missive, I had planned to move into James, something you can certainly do, but I think after writing this blog, I may need to stay in Hebrews.  As I mentioned previously, Hebrews 12:1 is my verse for the week.

Join me!

Holiday for Joy

I am keeping the holiday week post short, as I am spending time reflecting and dealing with some health issues, but one thing I have been pondering, and I wanted to briefly touch on it here.

I woke up on Christmas Day thinking about this blog and wondering if I should post.  But when I started thinking about what I should write, what I could write about the season, I became overwhelmed with the options.

I know that when I sit down to write a blog and I find my mind a clutter rather than clear, it is not from God.  When I receive something from him it is abundantly clear, and I can’t write fast enough.  So I have very little this week to offer up in terms of content except the following…

People celebrate Christmas for various reasons.  Some celebrate it to commemorate the birth of Jesus.  Some celebrate to the idea of Santa Claus.  Some celebrate to give and receive gifts.  Some celebrate because it is a time to feel good and to be around loved ones while eating excessively!

One thing I see that is consistent in all those reasons is the end product of joy.  For each of those reasons for celebrating the Christmas season there is a need to experience joy for a even a brief time.  As a Christian, I know what Christmas means, but I embrace all those other things I mentioned above as well.  I also marvel at the zeal in which I see people who do not believe as I do express themselves and fully embrace the holiday.

God is ever teaching me about grace in every moment of my life, and in doing so he is schooling me on the by-product, joy. During the Christmas season he has brought some very specific people and situations to my mind that have forced me to focus on whether I am able to give as I should in celebration,  or if I have quit extending grace to certain people because of my frustration with them which has endangered my ability to give with a thankful heart.  If I cannot extend his grace, I cannot give, and if I cannot give, I cannot experience joy.

See, I think the common factor, no matter our reason for celebrating Christmas, is that we want a season of joy.  We want to feel peace and comfort.  We want to laugh and be frivolous with those we love.  I think the difference is that if you believe in the shallow, that is the level at which you will experience joy, and it will last for only a short season.  But if you believe in something more sustaining, your joy will sustain as well, and it is the component of grace you can only receive from God that will carry you further in your joy past and through that which would steal it.