“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3 NASB
When God asked the prophet Ezekiel “Can these bones live?” the prophet did not consult holy writings.
He did not say, “Well, you probably have done this in the past.”
He did not say, “Yes!” with great zeal.
He simply said “O Lord God, You know.”
When I was young in the Lord I would read that scripture and think the prophet’s answer was a cop-out.His answer frustrated me.I used to think he was too timid to say, “Yes God, you can make them live.”, that he hung back and had little faith.After all, wasn’t he a prophet?
Speak up man!I used to think when I read that passage, God, the One True and Holy God has asked you a question.Obviously He wants you to proclaim your faith in His works.He wants you to say yes with conviction!
But recently I saw it from another perspective.
Ezekiel was in such deep communication, fellowship, with God that the only correct answer was “O Lord God, You know.”
In other words, I’m listening, I’m waiting, I’m ready to do what you say, God. Tell me.
I’m waiting on Your Word and I will not hazard to guess what You are doing. I will not try to predict the future, not even based on Your past dealings with me.
I am a hungry child, waiting on Your every Word as if it were food, (as it truly is food for the soul) holding my breath until You speak.I will not move until you say so and I am at complete rest in doing that.I am not worried if the bones can live.I am not trying to drum up my own faith and proclaim it, because the King of Glory is standing right beside me, speaking to me.
When we are born again into God’s kingdom, somehow He has seen fit to allow us to participate in His works and He is going to tell us step by step what to do and say.
We only have to wait on His word.
I’m on a business trip with my husband this week. It’s a luxury for me to unwind and focus on my writing without the daily necessities of planning dinner, chores, etc. I’m able to just sit and write, or ramble around the town and find inspiration for characters.
This morning I had one of those moments where it seems time freezes. I was standing in the lobby of the hotel, having just come from breakfast. To my left a group leader prowled around her group of listeners. They stood in a semi-circle and some yawned, some jerked their heads up as she entered their field of vision. It was early and I imagine not all the coffees had kicked in yet. She was extolling the virtues of whatever enterprise they were gathered there to discuss.
To my right, harried hotel clerks scrambled to help guests check out.
A drink dispenser repairman grumbled under his breath as he crawled on the floor, tools clanking on this and that part on the dusty machine he’d edged away from the wall.
I stood in silence in the middle of this moving, breathing microcosm of humanity.
And the thought hit me, how we must look to God, scrambling around, scratching for subsistence. Plunging ahead blindly in our own enterprises, with barely a thought of Him.
That was when it came to me in a flash, what God lost in the Garden of Eden.
I’d always focused on man’s estrangement from God. But this morning I realized the pain God must have felt at being stripped of the pleasure of walking and talking intimately with His creation.
“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
The Father, the Creator, calling to His child, “Where are you?”
He wants to commune with us, and it breaks His heart when we are not to be found.
Kathy Sprinkle posted Tuesday evening C.S. Lewis’ quote which summed it up:
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are too easily pleased.”
Meet Evan. This sixth-grader is a 4’8” blond bundle of energy in horn-rimmed glasses. His hair is wavy and long enough to make us all wonder if his parents believe they have spawned this millennia’s Samson, and it is so unkempt that it is always in his face. (I have to wonder if his energy comes from his hair, actually.) His gait is such that an adult commented once that she cannot see how he gets anywhere because it is so comically wonky. His passion is food; his brain is randomness; his personality is pure happiness. His hobby is raiding his polar-opposite sister’s room in an attempt to get her to leave it and join life, because where Evan is, life is. On steroids.
Yes, Evan is ADHD. He will tell you himself if you give him a chance to finally ramble there. His physician dad apparently won’t allow anyone to medicate him, and I understand why. He can control himself in class. He does well in school in spite of the firings of his brain; as a matter of fact, the kid is brilliant. You just have to listen long enough to see it.
He had tried out for the academic team before middle school, but the elementary coach is a seasoned veteran of sixteen years, plus she had several years as a player. She was having no part of it. The kid couldn’t be quiet long enough to take instruction, let alone play! But new coaches don’t know such things, and this year, I was the new middle school coach. Eighteen kids tried out this year, and I took them all for fear of cutting a gem.
So when Evan came with his sister (this is her one activity), we started him on quick recall. That did not go so well because Evan can get answers, but he cannot SPOUT them. He elaborates. He also cannot organize his mind to follow procedures like quick recall follows. Infractions added up quickly. I moved Evan to Future Problem Solving. There his randomness could shine, and he didn’t have to remember so many procedures quickly; but there was still an issue: his randomness and ramblings distracted the other team members from the task, and they got annoyed. He was great at thinking out of the box—a trait we desperately need in that competition, but he couldn’t control his energy. I had two teams that I put him with, and each one had at least one kid who was about to do him bodily harm. Since that was the case, I designated Evan as our alternate. He would play if someone could not be there because four people had to be on the team. He came to nearly every practice, but when competition days came, Evan sat out. He never complained. He never asked why. He took his ousting in a way that crushed my heart.
I regretted Evan’s rejection so badly that I promised his parents that if we went to State competition, he would play. FPS is a tough competition, and it is grueling for the kids. It was my first year, and it was their first year as middle school students to compete in it. Our chances were slim and none to make it to State, but the promise comforted my guilty conscience.
I believe God laughed as He brought on the miracle that sent my FPS team to State, but He also sent another miracle: they would have a separate competition for those kids who, like Evan, practiced, but never played. They would put them in teams and let them compete as the regular teams competed.
Evan would get his chance. I signed him up. We took him to State. He played at State. His team of alternates placed third at State while my regular team did not even make it to a second round of scoring. The kid is still beaming through his long, wavy locks and under his oversized horn-rimmed glasses. And while I am ecstatic for him, I am still wondering, “What if…”
This whole scenario has played over in my mind, and while Evan is not Jesus, this Scripture pops up in the middle of it all:
“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord
and is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit.”—Matt. 21:42-43
The Triumphal Entry. The praises of the masses. Jesus entering the temple complex, finally recognized for Who He is and finally allowing the masses to proclaim Him. As we read the Gospels, we wait for this moment. He was born King, the Son of the Highest, One of the Three-in-One, but for three years, He squelched those who knew Him because this moment had to be right. The right time had to be there. If it had happened before, something would not have been fulfilled in God’s plan, but NOW…
And while the masses acknowledged, the Pharisees and scribes had to find a way to get this uneducated carpenter out of the way before He destroyed all they had built.
The last week began. The week that would see the full rejection of the cornerstone, the casting aside of the very key all of Israel had to real life and hope, and not the traditions of their fathers; a week that would lead to the brutal killing of an innocent man, but Who was never murdered in the traditional sense. He gave His life in order to find it for Himself and for those He could not live without (… keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.—Heb. 12:2). In spite of the plotting of man, God’s Cornerstone was set into place. This was never in man’s hands.
I rejected a little boy. I felt guilty, but I felt I was doing the best I could for the team. Maybe I was wrong. One of the little girls on the team even came to me after their loss and said, “Mrs. Reid, I think we needed Evan.” I agreed, and I said, “But I thought you might do him bodily harm if I put him in.” She pondered a moment. “Well…yeah.” That little girl regretted losing, but nothing major happened in the universe because we lost. Losing happens.
I am becoming more and more aware of those who reject the Cornerstone of God because there is something major attached to that. I see them rejecting Him for similar reasons the nation of Israel did: He is weak; He hasn’t overthrown the tyrants; pain, illness, and loss still exist; He wants us to love whom?; He expects too much, and gives too little; I am fine going to church every Sunday and putting in my offering and judging those who do not follow the way of the Scriptures.
I pray that in my broken life, He can shine through. I pray for many in my company who may do all the right things, but do not have the Cornerstone as a foundation for what they do. I pray for those who are frustrated and fearful because God didn’t live up to their expectations—that they see that that is because their expectations are far too low, no matter what the hurt is from the disappointment. And my ultimate prayer for those colleagues, those kids, those parents, is that someone who knows Jesus hears from each of them a variation of what that little girl said to me when the smoke of loss cleared: “I think needJesus.”Reprinted by permission, Carolyn Reid, 2015
“There’s a hole in the world tonight
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow
There’s a hole in the world tonight
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.
Oh they tell me there’s a place over yonder,
Cool water running through the burning sand.
Until we learn to love one another
We will never reach the promised land.” Hole in The World, The Eagles
I can’t get this song out of my head tonight.I am sure the heart of God is broken over our world. I have to limit my news consumption. I take in enough, the essentials, then I pray.
Don Henley explained in the liner notes for The Very Best Of The Eagles compilation that he penned Hole in the World on the darkest day in American history: September 11, 2001. “I sat down at the piano in my home studio and started putting some chords with the phrase ‘hole in the world,'” he said.
Bear with me while I pull some themes together for you. It seems sometimes the hole is so deep that we can’t claw our way out of it. That is where the second part of my theme comes in…
“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
― Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Nazi concentration camps, beloved evangelist and writer. I’m sure many of you have read Corrie’s writings, if you haven’t had the pleasure please look her up. She was an amazing woman of God who stood strong in one of the darkest times on our planet.
Don Henley pinpointed the problem, yes, the hole. It’s in our hearts and he says the “place over yonder…the promised land” can be reached when we learn to love one another. I have to go one step further Don. Yes, we learn to love one another, but it is only when this happens:
“…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”Romans 5:5-6NASB
God answers the darkness with light. He fills in the holes in our world with the willing voices of His children! We are many, we are made strong by the blood of the Lamb.
(Tattoo courtesy of Eric Wilson, author of Fireproof and many other best selling Christian books. Thank you Eric for permission to use this.)
Ecclesiastes 9:10-11Living Bible (TLB)
“10 Whatever you do, do well, for in death, where you are going, there is no working or planning, or knowing, or understanding.11 Again I looked throughout the earth and saw that the swiftest person does not always win the race…” (Italics mine)
There is a wonderful work-out group I am honored to be part of online. Their motto is My Race, My Pace. We are all using Fitbit devices to monitor our steps each day. It is a low-pressure environment where whatever we do, we try to “do well.” I was thinking about this group today and the scripture popped into my head that “The swiftest person does not always win the race.” When I was young I was a sprinter in the game of life. I pushed myself until I was exhausted and then berated myself to do more. Whether it was volunteer activities or cleaning my house, I judged myself harshly and my efforts were never good enough. Lately I have been slowed down against my will by pain. I am forced many days to be still. In this stillness I see the value of being quiet and listening for God’s voice. I see how God in His mercy does not measure us by our list of accomplishments, but He wants us to choose “the good part.”
Luke 10:40-42 NASB
“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
The part of that scripture that wraps around me like a comforting blanket is “which shall not be taken away from her.”When I choose Him, nothing can take Him away from me, not illness, not war, not pain, not circumstance. He is the only thing that robbers cannot break in and steal, even those who would wish to take my life cannot take Him from me.
Matthew 6:19-21New American Standard Bible (NASB)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
My personal motto would really be My Race, God’s Pace.
Hebrews 1:1-3 NASB
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Don’t grow weary precious ones. Don’t lose heart. He loves you so much, He is there in the middle of everything you are going through right now, right this minute and if you listen to His voice, He will set the pace.
I am Thursday’s child on Reflections Along the Way, a devotional page on Facebook. I have the supreme enjoyment of writing for the Thursday slot on that page.Each writer was asked to post a short bio and their devotional for the day and following is my contribution this week.Thursday’s child, according to the old poem, has far to go, and I have travelled quite a way from the city of my birth, Richmond Virginia. The middle child of five, I found escape from the summer heat in the local bookmobile that parked at the end of our street each week. There I was introduced to characters that drew me in like a secret passageway to other worlds. I’d check out books and then hide away under the ballooning Forsythia bush in the corner of our yard with a quilt pulled from my bed. Escape was essential, as our father was greatly troubled by his best friend, alcohol. The two of them managed to keep our home in turmoil and it was always a relief when our father went away on a guard weekend.
I stopped running from God one Sunday in Mobile Alabama when I was 20. I was living away from home working on my clinical for college. My student loan check had been stolen from my mailbox and I was down to twenty-five cents and a quarter tank of gas. I flipped open my Bible and it fell to Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink…”
It was the first time I knew God had spoken specifically to me and I was overwhelmed by His love. He has been with me for many years now, and as my former pastor used to ask me, “Has He failed you yet?” and I can still answer no, He has never failed me.
Lately I have been writing about an exercise to ground you in tense emotional circumstances and I think it would even work in catastrophic events. It’s very simple, you can remember it by threes…
It’s called LIT-M, and is an idea re-worked. Living In The Moment.
When you are in a tense emotional situation you ask yourself:
1.First Question: Exactly where am I right this minute? (Geographically, time wise, etc)
1.First motion: Look down at your feet.
1. First response:(example, I’m in my kitchen)
This focuses you on the immediate. You are not allowed to worry about where you just came from or where you are headed, you are only allowed to focus on your current situation.
2.Second Question: Ask yourself, “What does God have to say about where I am, emotionally, etc.” If you have your Bible or an App, search some scriptures pertinent to your emotional situation. Ask God.
2.Second Motion: Look up, at the ceiling if you are inside, at the sky if you are outside.
2. Pray for a response, pray for illumination through the scriptures.
3. Third Question: “God, what do you want me to do in this moment and this circumstance?”
3.Third Motion: Look around you.
3.Third Response, you again pray, search the scriptures and listen for God’s leading.
You are not allowed to wallow in the past, or second guess yourself. You are not allowed to fret about the future, not even the next moment, it is all about living and breathing exactly in that moment, because God is there with you.
The motions are down, up, and around.
Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.Psalm 139:12
I am posting this today to stand with my fellow police wives. Most of us give up Christmas mornings so our husbands can be on their patrols. Did you know that? It’s OK, most people go about their holidays and don’t think about it. But we do. We get our children in their pajamas Christmas Eve and say a prayer that some kind guy on our husband’s shift will bow out of his day off and let our children’s daddy come home so he can see them open their presents. Most Christmases my husband stood by in full uniform, radio squawking, gun belt creaking, watching our little girls tear into packages and have the thirty minutes of his break that we could with him. Then he was off, to take care of someone’s domestic problems, or work a wreck, or a business break-in, or I always prayed not, a shooting.We don’t want your sympathy. We like it that we are married to super-heroes. That’s what drew us to them in the first place. What we do want is for you to let us live our lives. Stop the ambushes and executions. Our husbands give the same protection to someone who could turn around thirty minutes later and shoot them. That’s just the way they are. So please stop with all the “bad cop” talk. Movie portrayals of crooked cops make great drama, but have little truth.Who wants to go see a movie about a great guy who is there when your dad draws his last breath? Where is the drama in a cop who administers CPR to an already cold little body, just so the parents can be assured that every means was tried?(My husband did that, by the way.) If you want to really see what police do every day, sign up for a ride-along. Most cities have them. For the price of a signature waiver you get a front row seat to what reality is like. Then say a prayer for the police officer you are riding with. His name could be in the paper one day as another casualty of the job, and he knows it, and he goes out every day and does his job anyway. Why? Because he believes in the promise that is on the side of his patrol car.
We picked Brandy out from a litter of squirming black Lab pups, battling over a dented metal pan of dog food. Right away she was different from the others. Instead of fighting over kibble, she wandered to the enclosure to see my husband, and I knew she was the one for us. Lyrics from the song “Brandy” went through my mind.