I felt it before I saw it. I can't describe how or why, but I felt it. As I opened my front door the hair on my neck and arms stood on end, my heart rate spiked, my breath was sapped from my lungs. Right there, a few feet from our front door, in the middle of the otherwise untouched snow of our front yard, someone had carved a 12-foot by 12-foot swastika. I wasn't prepped to see that symbol. I knew something was off, but I wasn't prepped for the depth of that. I closed the door, prayed, asked the Lord for courage and clarity, and then stepped out into the cold night, fairly certain that whoever had wanted to leave that message was probably still around.
I am an average parent stacking up lots and lots of average days that are the shaping years of my kids lives. Sue and I want to at least interrupt those days with markers of God's provision, guidance and grace. Believe it or not, these two simple little questions, asked every day, have helped us to place plenty of those markers.
I have tried so many things in life to try and secure what looks like blessing and none of it has worked. Eventually I had to get to the point where I let a gracious God wrestle me into the dirt, reminding me there of His strength and my weakness, and yet it is there, in the dirt, when I didn't let go, that I finally got grace, and its associated limp.
Chaos on the sea was widely understood in the Jewish world as a sign of God's judgment or God's absence. We see it in the creation account, in the flood and in a lot of other imagery throughout the Old Testament.
But, then Jesus rebukes the wind. He speaks to the sea. And it listens! If a raging sea was a sign of God's judgment, then Jesus was presenting Himself as one who had the authority of that judgment! If the sinking boat was seen a sign of God's absence, then Jesus was announcing His presence in way they could never forget!
Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
Elihu strikes me a little bit like a young man who stumbles into Calvinism for the first time. Extremely passionate, very vocal, long-winded, lacking nuance, and rapidly running out of friends to yell at.
Sarah is such a lesson to us. She had waited and waited and waited for her son, and then he arrived. You would think that the story would tell us that she lived content as a result for the rest of her days, but the Bible is too honest for that sort of Disney story telling. The boy was still young when Sarah's eye caught the flourishing laughter of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, her slave, and the woman that Sarah had used and abused as a sordid surrogate when she couldn't wait on the promises of the Lord. Her contentment was lost in the gaze of comparison. This is such a typical human response, finding ourselves unable to be satisfied with the blessings that God has given us, because our eyes are fixed on the blessings that He has given to another.
There is a slowness to the winter sunrise
An unhurried separation of the darkened sky and shadowed land
Purple and yellow and orange and red spread their blurring edges like a healing bruise
A spilling of paints on a table of dark blue
“We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children’s lives. We either lay our mistakes and our burdens upon them, and we haunt them as ghosts. Or, we assist them in laying those old burdens down, and we free them from the chains of our own flawed behavior, and as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, assisting them to find their own way, and some sense of transcendence.”