Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Adjusting the shoulder straps

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt. Joshua 22:14

Doublemindedness. Not utterly driving out the Enemy. The leeks and onions of Egypt. Glancing back at a flaming Sodom.

And our unfaithfulness does not impact the Holy One. He is.

But just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.

And our distracted service, well we are the ones who our driven and tossed on the waves, Salt water up my nose is just not nice at all.

Thus, once again, as I zip zippers and sling up the assorted bags, flip off the light switches and head out the front door, let me once again echo Mr. Joshua: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So the sun stood still and the moon stopped

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. Joshua 10:25

So I have some giant kings lurking in the cave of my heart. Big hulking hayquehacers out to rob me and destroy me. They loom tall and fierce in the darkness.

And as they move up with all their troops and take up positions against me to attack I will stand at rest on the promise of God, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand.”

And one could wonder what old Joshua marching around Palestine a few thousand years ago could have to do with me and my dentist appointment during seventh period Spanish II and the English department meeting being held on the grass to discuss summer reading and technology use because I am on lunch duty and Jin Cheng not doing his reading and writing a birthday note or two or three and I need a brand new plan for finishing off the year of Environmental Science because Affordable Energy isn’t going to hold their interest for three weeks and my neighbor’s garden that needs watering every three days and the article I already wrote and emailed before the flip, flip, flip of fly, back, breast, and free this morning.

I totally believe that the sun could stand still, that the LORD God who holds the spinning galaxies the palm of His hand could bring it to a halt with only a flick of His wrist.

Thus I can take my tiny little place in this palm, a veritable sparrow in the shelter of His wings.
Because she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her;
 I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name.
She will call on me, and I will answer her;
 I will be with her in trouble,
 I will deliver her and honor her.

My very favorite part about Mexicali is that every single morning I leapt out of bed with the promise that I would see God that very day, at work to will His good purpose. And I would be part of this plan. This from-the-beginning-of-time-plan. And I was looking to be an answer to prayer that day. That my hands and feet would be His answer to those sometimes even unarticulated prayers and His giving because He was asked, and His being found because He was sought, and His opening because the door was being knocked. Perhaps even pounded. Or kicked. Are you there?

And really.

Really that is what I pray for today. Here in Tucson, where NPR has already clicked on and the traffic is starting up on Broadway and Alan is singing the happy little song “For I cry out for Your hand of mercy to heal me,” as he waters the greenhouse and chats with his birds.  May I be His hands and feet of love.  At rest in His strength and might.

And those hapless kings locked in the cave? 

They brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight. And they were put to death. One at a time. Whack, whack, whack. The lists are my enemies. Not His people. 

Therefore may I be strong and courageous. For He is with me.

Come rescue me.
For You are good,
You are so good to me.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deep calls to deep. Come Lord Jesus, come.

And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them but did not ask counsel from the Lord. Joshua 9:15

What does it mean to seek counsel from the LORD?

And I am a good little kid and I know all about looking at Scripture and looking for biblical principles and patterns, and seeking godly advise from godly people. And everyone who knows me, knows that I am wont to walk in the footsteps of oh-ye-of-little-faith Gideon laying out fleeces in the pastures and standing back to how God steps in. And He has been kind to me-of-little-faith over the years.
But there is something more, something in the quiet of one’s heart, where He resides.  Or sometimes it feels more like the whispering of the tree leaves as I sit outside in His presence. Or the testimony of Lewis, ““I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. “Emotional” is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.” 

That is often my experience each morning. Not exactly spending the journey, back and forth, flip, flip, flip between the walls of the University of Arizona Hillenbrand Pool, in thought, but when I pull myself out, I know the answer.

Because seeking counsel requires stillness. The pause. Before I plunge into my own wayward plots and sensibilities.

Because, as I read and considered yesterday, The LORD God is not one for compromise. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The steady, unrelenting approach of Him

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to Him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Joshua 7:19

We cannot hide from the LORD God.

And His love will stop at nothing to bring us to repentance.

Confession is an act of worship, acknowledging that He is God and I most certainly am not.

And even under the pressure of leading a tumultuous multitude in conquering the Promised Land after an unexpected loss, and even though the consequences were fierce, Joshua was able to approach the thief with kindness, and tenderly call him “my son.”

This moment, the stoning of Achan and his daughters and his animals, is hard. But a clear picture of not to mess with the Living God who detests sin. Yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, taking this holy reconciliation upon Himself.

Yesterday I read aloud to my class my selected monologue from Lewis, modeling proper tone and pause and poise, “who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of man, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on him was laid.


Free, free indeed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Standing on a knoll and looking back over the trod path

So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. Joshua 6:27

Alan and I had a lot of fun last night at the Intervarsity Big Meeting. And we did pretty good telling stories. Lots of practice around that old picnic table in the backyard. And we had a few pictures. I was a little worried about cramming it all into one hour, so sometimes I didn’t finish my sentences. And then I would apologize, which took up more time in the long run, so I really tried to finish all of my sentences. And I left out some telling details, because really, how do you wrap up our friends like Ramoncita or Ali or my new friend Mary in just a few sentences? And it was pretty clear that we have had one heck of an amazing life full of wonder and good cheer. And long hard days. And long hard nights. It is telling that my heart verse for my grown-up life is Psalm 84:5-7, How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart is the pilgrimage to Zion, passing through the valley of bitterness, it is made a spring; the early rains also cover it with blessing. They go from strength to strength, until every one appears before God in Zion, which I told one young thing who begged to talk to me after the meeting about the lying in bed after Angel’s death and thinking that we were the most miserable excuses of servants of God ever.

Actually, we were introduced by some sort of ridiculous title, like “heroes of the faith” or something like that, which I tried to clarify right off the bat that we just stumbled through life, trying to hear His voice and then ducking out of His way as He did His thing. And a guy shouted out from the audience, “Do you have friends and family that think you are just flat out crazy?” Uh huh.  

And Joshua is not at all about Joshua. Really the title of this book should be God Almighty. Joshua just did a really good job of looking up and going forward, marching. So he got some glory, but it was really about the LORD God going before him.

And I am pretty sure that I have never had a crowd rush the stage on me before. And I hardly knew what to say to all of those intent faces.

Except Trust and Obey. And look at the life of Joshua. It wasn’t about him, but through him, God fulfilled His promises. Up to a thousand generations.