Call me paranoid, but now that I have found two daddy long-leg spiders in the house, I totally expect to uncover this as I am cleaning today. Or, I bet they know we have a house showing tonight, and will time their appearance appropriately. Sigh.
Fear God and Fear Nothing Else
The world is shaking with fear. “What will become of us? Where will it all end? What if Russia…? What if cancer…? What if expression…?” The love of God has wrapped us round from before the foundations of the world. If we fear Him–that is, if we are brought to our knees before Him, reverence and worship Him in absolute assurance of his sovereignty, we cannot possibly be afraid of anything else. To love God is to destroy all other fear. To love the world is to be afraid of everything–what it may think of me, what it may do to me, what may happen today or tomorrow for which I am not prepared.
“The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps 27:1 RSV).
And yet, Lord, the truth is that I am often afraid. I confess it. All the weight of your promises seems sometimes to be only a feather, and the weight of my fears is lead. Reverse that, Lord, I pray. Give me the healthy fear that will make light of all the others–“The fear of the Lord is life; he who is full of it will rest untouched by evil” (Prv 19:23 NEB).
We had a good bit of rain yesterday afternoon. While I sat outside on the porch to watch, and thoroughly enjoy getting goosebumps for the first time in days, this story came to mind- one of my favorites from the Bible:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
We are headed to a school-choice wowwy, so there isn’t much time to blog.
Fortunately for you who are visiting the butterfly sanctuary today, there have been some wonderful Elisabeth Elliot devotionals lately on the topic of prayer. Thought I would share some quotes that were especially good:
“People who ski, I suppose, are people who happen to like skiing, who have time for skiing, who can afford to ski, and who are good at skiing. Recently I found that I often treat prayer as though it were a sport like skiing–something you do if you like it, something you do in your spare time, something you do if you can afford the trouble, something you do if you’re good at it. Otherwise you do without it most of the time. When you get in a pinch you try it and then you call an expert. But prayer isn’t a sport…Even if you are part of a “team,” as when others join you in prayer, you are not cheered on by spectators or coached by any experts. You won’t get any trophies–not on this side of the Jordan, anyway. It’s not likely you’ll get any credit at all.”
“[God] is Love. Infinite Love will never give a stone when bread is asked for, or a scorpion in place of an egg. But what will Infinite Love give if our prayer is for a scorpion?”
“I could say, “God can make my hands clean if he wants to,” or I could wash them myself. Chances are God won’t make my hands clean. That’s a job he leaves up to me. His omnipotence is not impaired by his having ordained my participation, whether it be in the washing of hands with soap or the helping of a friend with prayer. Christ redeemed the world by the laying down of his life, a perfect sacrifice, once for all. Yet he is in the business, as David Redding says, of “maintenance and repair.” He lets us participate with him in that business by the laying down of our own lives.
One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying, in effect, “my life for yours.” My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my concentration, my faith–here they are, for you. So it is that I participate in the work of Christ. So it is that no work of faith, no labor of love, no smallest prayer is ever lost, but, like the smoke of the incense on the golden altar, rises from the hand of the angel before God.”
I wish I could link you to the actual devotionals, but it appears that the current day’s devotional is the only one available on the website, and these ran last week. Good stuff for the soul. May we now go forth with more firm a grip on this precious connection with the Almighty.