Hopefully Devoted: Held

I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:13, The Message)

I don’t have a lot of words this morning. Some days are like that.

That doesn’t meant I don’t have something to share.

This morning, as I sat down to the keyboard, I didn’t find nifty words—I found presence.

My favorite image of God is that of a child curled up in his hand. Like this:

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For me the most comforting and complete image of God is being held. I was told by a therapist that I’m touch deprived. The ache in my heart finds peace when I feel held.

Held together…when everything around me feels like it’s falling apart.

Held back…from foolish and destructive choices.

Held close…when the the ache of loss feels devastating.

Held.

Maybe you need to be feel held today.

 

Scriptures to read to reinforce: Psalm 91

Mercy

This coming Sunday I was asked to lead a women’s ensemble for the special music in the worship service. Our practices were slowly whittled down to one because of the weather. Pastor and I discussed it and decided to reschedule until next month.

Then he asked if I would sing the special. I was okay with that and agreed immediately.

I like to find a song that supports the message. Pastor’s topic is mercy. I went searching through CBD (Christian Book Distributors) and listening on youtube. Here’s the song I think I’m going to do:

But what is mercy?

Each time I found a definition and started reading I began to weep, overwhelmed by the mercy I have experienced in my life.

Here are a couple definitions I found.

From TEKTON Apologetics: Pilch and Malina note that in an ancient context, “mercy” is better rendered as “gratitude” or “steadfast love.” One example of the expression of mercy would be “the debt of interpersonal obligations for unrepayable favors received.” For a case like this, to say, “Lord, have mercy!” (Matt. 20:31) means, “Lord, pay up your debt of interpersonal obligation to us!” Not a plea of the hapless, it is in this case a request to pay back previously earned favor (as a loyal subject of the Davidic/Messianic dynasty).

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Biblically: 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17, NIV)

The Bible story that defines/describes mercy for me is the story of the man who is forgiven a huge debt. It was the equivalent of millions of dollars. There is no way possible for him to repay it. And the debt is forgiven. He meets up with someone who owes him a fraction of what he was just forgiven and he demands payment. It doesn’t end well for him (see Matthew 18:21-35).

I don’t get the unmerciful servant. First, I don’t get how he could run up such a huge debt. And then to not be changed. I’m mystified. I just don’t get it.

Every time I think about my debt being paid, forgiven…I choke up and feel so unworthy.

Every time I look at my husband, I marvel at his love for me. I don’t deserve it. Yet it’s there.

Every time I am allowed to teach a class, lead a Bible study, sing in worship, speak at a gathering…I’m humbled beyond description.

And grateful.

Thank you for Your mercy.

Advent 17: Peace on Earth

Part of what set me up to make the poorest decisions in my life was buying into the lie of “peace at any price.” I learned, and quite painfully, that there is no such thing because it really is not peace and we pay way too high a price.

And yet I still believe in and crave peace. I avoid conflict whenever I can. But I am not a pacifist. I am a peacemaker.

When the angel chorus delivered their message to the shepherds, they sang of peace on earth. And the crowd heard a very different message than what God intended. They took it to mean an end to strife and hardship and oppressive rule.

God had something very different in mind. Paul tried to clear up the confusion in his letter to the church at Ephesus. He wrote: “For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” (Ephesians 2:14, NASB.)

There were so many divisions between the people. The mission of Christmas is to heal those separations. God wanted peace not pieces. God wanted to bring his people back together and back to him.

Will you take some time to examine what divides your heart, what separates you from others, what keeps you from God.

His gift for you is peace: wholeness in life, not pieces formed by divisions.

Today I want to close with my favorite Christmas song and a prayer that God will heal the brokenness that divides so you will know peace.

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