A sense of Him

Isobel Kuhn‘s writings have benefited me greatly. One of her books is called Second Mile People, in which she writes of several who have influenced her life in a major way. In Jesus’s instruction about going the second mile, she says, the first mile is compulsory, but the second is an offering “for the good and peace of His kingdom.” All of the people she writes of in this book have gone the extra mile and “have cried out, not ‘How much will He ask?’ but ‘How much can I give Him?’”

One such person is Dorothy. Isobel begins Dorothy’s chapter with this poem:

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Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.

Is it a beatific smile,
A holy light upon your brow;
Oh no, I felt His Presence while
You laughed just now.

For me ‘twas not the truth you taught
To you so clear, to me still dim
But when you came to me you brought
A sense of Him.

And from your eyes He beckons me,
And from your heart His love is shed,
Til I lose sight of you and see
The Christ instead.

—by A. S. Wilson

Isobel then tells of meeting a young woman named Dorothy at a conference. Isobel had not been saved very long. “My ideas of the Christian life were still in a crude, unmoulded state.” Dorothy seemed attractive, winsome and sweet, and Isobel was pleased when Dorothy asked her to go for a walk. Dorothy had in mind to “speak just a word for Jesus” while on this walk, but as it happened, their conversation centered on happy, funny things. “When we parted Dorothy felt she had been a failure, unconscious that the one she had hoped to help was going away enchanted with this glimpse into the very human sweetness of this Christlike girl. ‘…I felt His Presence when you laughed just now….’ The Spirit-filled life cannot ‘fail’, it is fruitful even when it may seem least to have done anything. That walk gave Dorothy ‘influence’ over me when a ‘sermon’ would have created a permanent barrier. In fact at that time I carried a mental suit of armour all ready to slip on quietly the moment any ‘old fogey’ tried to ‘preach’ at me!”

“Oswald Chambers says, ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies of the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly.’ A great mistake is to think that a Spirit-filled man or woman must always be casting sermons at people. Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ (which is a first qualification of Second Mile People) is merely a refusing of self and a taking by faith of the life of Christ as wrought in us by His Holy Spirit.” “We must take the Spirit’s fullness, as we take our salvation, by faith in God’s promise that He is given to us.”

Some weeks later when Dorothy and Isobel met again, Dorothy’s “time had come” to “get in a ‘preach,’” for Isobel then was in a frame of mind and heart to receive it. “The Holy Spirit is never too early and never too late.” Though Isobel did not understand as yet all Dorothy was trying to say, her words did lay the groundwork for future understanding, and “from Dorothy I just drank in the inspiration of herself, the ‘sense of Him’, and the fact that this life of undisturbed peace was no mystic dream but a possible reality who sat before me with earnest sweet eyes and soft pink cheeks.”

Neither Isobel nor I are talking about being a witness just by lifestyle and never using words. As she said, eventually Dorothy was able to talk to her more fully. Isobel spent her life sharing God’s Word with others and writing words of His doings in her heart and those He ministered to.

But I know what she means about people like Dorothy. I have known some people who seem to reflect Christ and carry a “sense of Him” in everything they do, every word, action, and attitude. Something of Him shines through even when they are talking about everyday activities. That only comes from spending much time with Him in His Word and prayer.

May I live so close to Him that people always sense His presence.

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(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Woman to Woman Word-Filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth)

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Heaven is not a lesser answer

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Some years ago, our church was fervently praying for someone’s healing. When that person passed away, I was heartsore and disappointed. Someone mentioned that this person had received “the ultimate healing” in heaven. In my immaturity, I thought that sounded like rationalization, putting a positive spin on it.

In God Is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, Jennifer Rothschild described a friend’s death during a cruel assault. When Jennifer lamented to her father that she couldn’t understand why God let her friend go through such a thing, he responded that she didn’t go through it, she went from it. He went on to explain:

God delivers us in different ways. Sometimes he protects us from awful things so we never have to endure them. Other times God delivers us by rescuing us or healing us. Sometimes God brings us through hard things —that’s also a form of God’s deliverance. But then there are the times that God, out of his great care for his children, delivers us out of the horror and into glory.

God compassionately took Regina out of her tragedy and into his presence. She was delivered from it —out of it —and into glory, where there are no tears, no crying, and no pain, and the only scars are the ones on the hands of Jesus.

Heaven is not a rationalization or a positive spin on unanswered prayer. Heaven is not a lesser answer to prayer than healing.

If we look at the death of Christians from God’s standpoint, He’s gathering His children to the home He has been preparing for them for millennia.

It’s fine to seek and pray for healing, and we rejoice and praise God when He allows someone to remain with us a little longer. Healings were a major testimony to the reality of the power of God and the validity of Jesus’ ministry in the Bible. God has implanted in us a strong will to live, but living “the American dream” of a nice house, good family, and 70+ years of excellent health is not the “ultimate.” The ultimate is being with Him in our new home in heaven some day.

Once I saw a video in which the speaker had a long rope that extended all the way across the stage and then past the curtain beyond sight. That rope, he said, represented eternity. The speaker held the end of the rope wrapped in a few inches of red tape which represented our time here on earth. Our few decades that we value so much are so short, and eternity is so long. How shortsighted we are that we put so much emphasis on the one to the neglect of the other.

A full Biblical study of heaven would take more space than we have here, but here are just a few aspects of heaven:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. Job 3:17

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-3, 6

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:21-23

What should we be doing in relation to heaven before we get there? Here are a few things:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV uses “comfort” in place of “encourage.)

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Peter 3:11-15a

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you. Colossians 3:1-5a (followed by a discussion about what earthly things he is talking about, like immorality, covetous, and lying, and what things to put on in their place).

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

In Frank Houghton’s biography, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, he tells of a time when one of the little ones at the Dohnavur compound died. Amy was comforted by the words of Samuel Rutherford written to a grieving mother over 200 years before Amy’s time:

You have lost a child. Nay, she is not lost to you who is found to Christ; she is not sent away but only sent before, like unto a star which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere: you see her not, yet she doth shine in another country.

If her glass was but a short hour, what she wanteth of time that hath she gotten in Eternity; and you have to rejoice that you have now some treasure laid up in heaven…Your daughter was a part of yourself, and you, being as it were cut and halved, will indeed be grieved; but you have to rejoice that when a part of you is on earth, a great part of you is glorified in heaven…There is less of you out of heaven that the child is there.

We grieve when someone we love leaves this life, and that’s perfectly normal. Even Jesus grieved. We’re sad whenever we have to be away from our loved ones for an extended time, especially without the ability to converse with them. But we remember that this life is short, that those who die in Christ are in His presence, fully healthy and without pain. We could not wish them back, and we know we’ll see them again. and in the meantime we live, as an old song used to say, “with eternity’s values in view.”

If you don’t have this sure hope of heaven, please read here for more information.

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth)

Laudable Linkage

My round-up of exceptional online reads discovered this week:.

It’s OK to Choose Grace and Space. “There’s no Goals Police or Resolutions Monitor waiting to slap your hand if you don’t produce.”

Wherein an Anthropomorphic Tree Upends Me. HT to Story Warren. Beautiful.

What If Motherhood Was Meant to Be Hard? HT to Story Warren.

Letters to Taylor: On New Beginnings. HT to Story Warren.

Being Lazy Is Actually Good For You sometimes.

And, finally, I’ve always loved this quote:

Happy New Year!

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(Graphic from crosscards.com)

A New Year’s Prayer

May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.

~ Author Unknown

Wishing you all God’s best this year!

A Time to Look Back, a Time Not to Look Back

The end of the year encourages a lot of looking back over the past 365 days. I enjoy end-of-the-year compilations, whether they are book lists, news stories, or family newsletters.

A few years ago, a saying was making the rounds on Pinterest and Facebook: “Don’t look back: you’re not going that way.”

Is that good advice? It can be sometimes, if looking back is keeping you from moving forward, keeping you from obedience, tempting you in any kind of wrong way, fueling your longing for something or someone you should not have, or causing you to wallow in regret instead of moving on to repentance and change.

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Also, when God says, “Go!” then it is not time to look back. We don’t know all the reasons Lot’s family was told not to look back. And we don’t know all the reasons Lot’s wife did look back, but she was turned to a pillar of salt for disobeying. When Jesus admonished His hearers to “Remember Lot’s wife,” the context was the coming of the kingdom of God. Just after mentioning her, Jesus said, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”

Paul said, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

But are there times to look back? This depiction of the saying I mentioned amused me, because in context, not looking back would be a major safety hazard!

Looking backThis one also makes a good point:

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There are times God tells us to look back. Isaiah 51:1 tells us, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.” It is good to look back at where the Lord found us and where He brought us from. Many times in both the Old and New Testaments, a prophet, preacher, or apostle recounted Israel’s history to them, reminding them of their unfaithfulness and His faithfulness and mercy and grace. They were told to “remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deuteronomy 8:2), “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deuteronomy 32:7), “Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth” (I Chronicles 16:12).

Also, throughout the Bible God told the people to set up memorials to mark some occurrence of His help on their behalf in the past. Those memorials were reminders of what He had done plus a testimony as people told the story behind the memorials to their children.

A couple of churches mentioned in Revelation were admonished to Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent,” (Revelation 2:5), and “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (3:2-3).

The Psalmist said “I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” “Psalm 63:6-7, ESV_. By doing so “satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (v. 5). In Psalm 77:11-12 (ESV), he said “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” Many times psalmists encouraged themselves by looking back and remembering how God had met their needs and faithfully dealt with them in the past.

Peter said, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (I Peter 3:1-2).

So, do we look back or do we not look back? We can’t live life by catch phrases. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted,” and so on. There are times and reasons to look back: to learn from our mistakes, to humble ourselves, to remember God’s help, deliverance, and provision of the past,to encourage ourselves that God is loves us, is faithful, and powerful to take care of us now and in the future. But there are times and reasons not to look back, as I mentioned above. It depends on what we are looking at and why and what effect it has on us.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our Guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

~ Isaac Watts, 1719

(Revised from the archives)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories,Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesdays, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth)

Laudable Linkage

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I wanted to share these before we get too far away from Christmas since many of these posts relate to it.

Desperation, a Speech, and a Sick Child: Dickens and “A Christmas Carol.” What spurred the writing of Dickens’ most famous Christmas work.

What We Lose if We Ditch the Virgin Birth, HT to Challies.

One part of the Biblical Christmas story that often gets passed over is the murder of male babies in an effort to exterminate Christ. Two articles discerning truth from that horrendous occurrence are The Forgotten Part of the Christmas Story, HT to Challies, and From the Manger to the Cross: Mourning the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents.

Why Modern Christians Should Obey the Ten Commandments, HT to Challies.

ProLife Speaker Ryan Bomberger Publicly Discredited for Making Wheaton College Students and Professors Feel “Unsafe,” HT to Challies: “There is a right to free speech, but not a right to hear only what you want to hear.” “Our society and our colleges are under no obligation to protect frail and vulnerable college students from the discomforts of hearing what they don’t agree with. In my opinion, thin-skinned intellectualism has no place on college campuses. We need to encourage students to learn how to articulate their own ideas, not to try to shut down others from articulating theirs.”

Teach Your Teen How to Read the Bible.

There are usually lots of posts about Bible reading plans at the end of December and beginning of January. Lisa has created a 2-year Bible Reading Plan that I think is really good. I found the “Bible in a year” plans a little too rushed and pressured, so 2 years gives you a little more breathing room. It’s good to have both overview reading, to keep the big picture in mind and to read all of God’s inspired Word, and to do some more intense study on smaller bits as well. Lisa’s plan leaves room for both.

Giving Up Our Rights, HT to Challies. “Consider the formula: Giving up rights = Gospel advancement. Rights are those preferences and freedoms we enjoy as Christians related to what we eat, drink, and enjoy and even some things that we are owed or deserve.”

And, finally, this rang true for me, especially not knowing the day!

Found at Pinterest, apparently from the Letterfolk Instagram account.

Happy last Saturday of 2018!

Christmas Grief, Christmas Hope, Christmas Joy

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December’s festivities are tempered with sorrow for some. My mother passed away December 10, my father December 12, and my grandmother Christmas Eve, each in different years. In more recent years a college friend and our only family dog died on December 21. My brother once commented that he just wanted to cancel the whole month.

The death of a loved any any time of year can shadow the whole Christmas season as we miss our normal interactions with that loved one. Grief begins as a flood but slowly transforms into a stream that occasionally overflows its banks. Even several years after a loss, it’s not abnormal to be caught off guard by a memory or a longing leading to a good crying jag.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there is no one right way to celebrate Christmas. That’s true not only among different families or individuals, but even within the same hearts in different years.

When someone is grieving over the holidays, they may not want to participate in some of the “normal” happy pastimes. It’s not that they don’t ever laugh or enjoy gatherings. But as Sherry said, “I am enjoying the traditional holiday celebrations, and at the same time they move me to tears, sad tears for things that have been lost this year. I am singing the music, and yet I’m tired of the froth of jingling bells and pa-rumpumpum.” I remember almost wishing that we still observed periods of mourning with wearing black or some sign of “Grief in progress” — not to rain on anyone else’s good time, but just to let people know there was woundedness under the surface. Just as physical wounds need tenderness while healing, so do emotional ones.

Other events can cast a pall over Christmas: illness, job loss, a family estrangement, etc. One Christmas we were all sick as dogs, and my father-in-law had just had a major health crisis and wanted us to come up from SC to ID to visit. There was just no way we could drag ourselves onto a plane until antibiotics had kicked in. But a few days later we did go, and if I remember correctly, that was the last time any of us except my husband saw him alive. In retrospect we were glad we went, though it wasn’t the merriest of Christmases. A good friend grieved over “ruining” her family’s Christmas by being in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. Lizzie wrote about visiting her husband in prison for Christmas. Quilly commented about being homeless one Christmas.

If you’re grieving this Christmas, don’t feel guilty if you’re not quite into the “froth” this year.  Give yourself time to heal. It’s ok to pull back and have a quieter Christmas. There may be times to go through with some holiday festivities for family’s sake — and, truly, those times can help keep you from the doldrums.

Perhaps a new tradition commemorating your loved one might help. My step-father and sisters who live near my mother’s grave go out together as a family to put up a little Christmas tree there. I’m too far away to join them, but every year on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I have a private little moment of remembrance. A family we used to know whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver requested that their church host a special service in December for those who have lost loved ones in that way. Some men from our former church participated in a biking event together in memory of our pastor who died of liver cancer.

On the other hand, don’t feel guilty for enjoying Christmas. Experiencing joy shows no disrespect to your loved one or your circumstances. Your loved one would want to be remembered but would also want you to be happy. Sherry shared how making a list of reasons to celebrate Christmas helped. Look for the good things to rejoice in. My two friends mentioned above, Lizzie and Quilly, mentioned reasons for rejoicing in the midst visiting prison and homelessness. E-mom left a valuable comment that we can treasure up the memories of good Christmases to tide us over the not so good ones, and then look forward to better things ahead.

As I mentioned before, the first Christmas was not all about the froth, either. It was messy, lonely, and painful, yet out of it was born the Savior of the world and the hope of mankind.

If it weren’t for the hope that Christmas represents, I wouldn’t be able to endure the losses. The Christmas carol “O Holy Night” shares “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” comforts, “Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!…Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save.”

The baby in the manger didn’t stay a baby.  He was no ordinary child: the only begotten Son of the Father came to earth for a special mission. “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth.” He taught, He healed, He lived as an example, but His main purpose in coming was to take sin away by bearing it Himself on the cross some 33 years after His birth, so that all who believe in Him could have their sins forgiven and live with Him in heaven some day. I have the hope of eternal life and the hope of seeing my loved ones again. Biblical hope isn’t tremulous: it’s a confident expectation.

But eternal life doesn’t begin at death: it begins the moment God’s gift of faith is received. We have hope not only for life after death, but for joy and peace in the midst of sorrow, for help, grace, strength, love in this life as well. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”

Rejoice in that hope and promise. Draw near to Him who has borne our griefs and carries our sorrows until grief and sorrow are done away forever.

(This post is a blending of a previous post from the archives and a newspaper article published in 2011.)

(Sharing with Inspire me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest list of good reads found online recently:

America Is Intolerably Intolerant , HT to Challies, about public shaming and Internet mob rule regardless of facts. “I don’t think we can look at any of these things entirely in isolation. Instead, I see them as symptoms of a post-Christian America that has become intolerably intolerant. It is a society without grace. It’s a society that’s all too often devoid of mercy — or in which the merciful don’t have nearly the same cultural power as the merciless.”

Seven Lessons for Engaging with the Secular (Liberal) Academy, HT to Out of the Ordinary, from someone who went from liberalism to evangelicalism.

Every Sin / Every Temptation Not Taken, HT to Challies. What happens when we sin or resist sin.

The Story Behind Longfelllow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Someone’s list of the Top 10 Theology Stories of 2018, HT to Challies.

And, finally, this good thought from Challies:

Not the Messiah They Were Looking For

As a young Christian, I wondered why Jesus came incognito, so to speak. Why didn’t He go on a hilltop or to the temple and proclaim Himself: “I am the Messiah you’ve been waiting for all these years!”

There may be a variety of reasons. But in my current I-don’t-know-how-many-eth time through the Bible, I happen to be in John after having read the other three gospels. I’ve enjoyed going over all of Christ’s life on earth during the month of December, not just the “Christmas” portions. I’m using the ESV Study Bible, and its notes often remark that Jesus did not declare Himself openly because most of the Jews at that time were expecting a military ruler who would throw off Roman oppression. Several times in the gospels Jesus had to get away from the crowds because they wanted to make Him king immediately. Some, Jesus said, followed Him because of the loaves of bread He miraculously reproduced in the feeding of the 5,000.

There is a sense in which Jesus does fulfill all those roles already. He is the King of Kings, and some day the whole world will be under His righteous rule. Someday the crooked will be made straight and rights will be wronged. But these roles will be fully manifested at His second coming.

And there is a sense in which we do depend on Jesus for our daily bread and all other needs. But, as He told the crowds then:

Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:26-29, ESV).

Before He could declare Himself openly, He had to teach them the true nature of the Messiah. By many signs (miracles), by His claims (“I am the bread of Life,” “I am the light of the world,” etc.), by His declarations and teachings, bit by bit He showed them exactly who He was and what He was about. And some understood and accepted Him for who He was. They came to understand that His kingdom is a spiritual one.

But some left Him when he started to share “hard things.” Others realized He didn’t fit their image of what the Messiah would be and do, they rejected Him and sought to destroy Him.

Don’t people still do that today? Instead of learning from God’s Word the true nature of the Savior, they’ve imagined their own version of what a Savior would be like. He wouldn’t let evil happen. He’d take care of the bad guys. He’d answer every prayer just the way they want Him to. And when He doesn’t perform according to expectations, well, then, who needs Him?

We all need Him. But we need Him as He truly is, not as we think He should be. Even those of us who are Christians, even those of us who have been for a long time, still have to continually “renew our minds” and adjust our thinking according to truth. We come to know Him as Savior and Lord, but then we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Him better and adjusting ourselves away from our preconceived notions and expectations and toward who He really is. And we’re not disappointed, because in the end He’s a much better Savior than we could ever have imagined.

Do you know Him today as He truly is? Get to know Him through His Word. If you’re new to the Bible, start reading the gospel of John. See what He does and what He says about Himself.

And if you’ve known Him for years, keep getting to know Him better. Keep learning more and more what a wonderful Savior He is.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

It’s been another good week for online reading! Here are posts I have learned from lately – maybe some of them will interest you as well.

Routine Bible Reading Can Change Your Life, HT to Challies. “But the way the Bible does its work on our hearts is often not through the lightning bolt, but through the gentle and quiet rhythms of daily submission, of opening up our lives before this open Book and asking God to change us. Change doesn’t always happen overnight. Growth doesn’t happen in an instant. Instead, it happens over time, as we eat and drink and exercise. The same is true of Scripture reading.”

Advent Reading Plans. Several doable, workable plans for reading from the Christmas-related passages of Scripture during December.

Don’t Downplay Your Suffering, HT to Challies. “One of the biggest mistakes believers can make when facing a tragedy is to minimize it. I think so many of us do it because we are lacking a robust theology of suffering.

The Most Difficult Time of the Year: How to Love Grieving Parents at Christmas.

How Long Does It Takes to Read Each Book of the Bible? HT to Lisa.

Should We Stop Publicly Shaming People?  HT to Lisa. Yes, indeed. Sometimes a public outcry helps, like the reaction to the Dove commercial a while back. But often instead of letting people learn from their mistakes, they are run into the ground and ruined for the rest of their lives.

Beyond Truth and Fiction: Loving Our Neighbors With Dementia, HT to Out of the Ordinary. The Christian alternative to lying to someone with dementia so as not to upset them.

My Husband Was Hurt by an I.E.D. The Lasting Injury Was to Our Family, HT to Challies. Sometimes devastating injuries don’t “show” on the outside and affect the whole family.

Join Me on a Ride to Malvern, HT to Challies. A favorite childhood memory, a reminder that “all of these ‘small moments’ have the potential of eternal significance for your child.”

Stop Hand Washing Your Dishes, HT to Lisa. Nice to have my preferences justified. 🙂

And a smile for the day, found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!