MORE BUMBLE THEN BELIEVER, [Aging]

A Bumble with a tender heart

It’s strange to be in the position of being older.  A whirlwind of days and nights swirl from this human drama, and I think I may be starting thinking about my exit— Lord willing, stage right.

I’m supposed to be a veteran now– a mature believer.  I’m not supposed to get stressed.  However, age is a brutal teacher– and it seems we have to learn so dang fast, it’s like trying to drink from a fire hose. (Just the other day three teeth almost came out from the blast.)

Getting old is great in some ways. I only wish I could do it more gracefully.

On top of it all, it seems to me like my sin has poisoned the air that others must breathe.  I have contaminated so much. You might just say, I have ‘soured’ everyone’s milk.  “Learning to live with the  regrets” is a class that we should add to the local high school’s curriculum. It certainly would be useful.

A old friend is celebrating her birthday so I volleyed a semi serious “tongue and cheek” regret at her.  But then, I suddenly realized that there is a point when we realize that behind every older person, is someone else wondering what the hell has happened, and how did it get this way so fast? It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

As a Christian, I tentatively believe that this world I’m in, has folded open for me, and God has specified a direction.  I do contend though, unbelief is easier on a certain level, but I do not intend to take any detours.  Perhaps the real trick about reading a map in the car is that you most likely won’t get it folded back the same way ever again.  You must learn to accept this. And as a rule, maps seldom reveal the best detours.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
    until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
    I will carry you along and save you.”

Isaiah 46:4, NLT

I must admit to having a connection to “Bumble”, that crazy, loveable, abominable snowman in one of those schlocky, animated children TV classics from my youth.  I guess I identify with that ‘misfit’ yeti— someone who finally sees the light, but only when all his teeth are pulled!  Somewhere in that show he seemed almost good,  but didn’t we all wonder for a while if he would come around or not?

I  also wonder about the thief on the cross who got his ticket punched by Jesus at the last possible moment.  When we finally make it to heaven, we will find him there laughing and celebrating like everyone else, just like he belonged.  I guess grace does that to a person.

“What does it matter?  All is Grace” — Georges Bernanos.

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Help Me to Understand My Tears

bowing-before-him In 1895 Andrew Murray was in England suffering from a terribly painful back, the result of an injury he had incurred years before. He was staying with some dear friends. One morning while he was eating his breakfast in his room, his hostess told him of a woman downstairs who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice for her. Andrew Murray handed her a paper he had been writing on and said, “Just give her this advice I’m writing down for myself. It may be that she’ll find it helpful.” This is what was written:

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again.”
How, and when, He knows.”

Therefore say, “I am here,

  1. by God’s appointment,
  2. in His keeping,  
  3. under His training,
  4. for His time.”

I am convinced that suffering has a purpose. I must keep or honor this particular engagement. It is for my good that I do so.  My life has meaning while I struggle with my issues.  Nothing is really ever wasted.

And God certainly doesn’t waste our sorrows. He uses them to build our faith and work His grace, character, and eternal purposes into our lives and through our lives. God takes note of our tears and gathers them in His bottle that none be wasted. (Psalm 56:8) He rewards godly tears (Psalm 126:5; Luke 7:44; II Timothy 1:4.) One day God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelation 7:17; 21:4) Don’t waste your sorrows, but give them to Jesus.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
    This I know: God is on my side!”

Psalm 56:8-9, NLT

How Things Grow, [Work]

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A farmer slowly walks behind his plow. The ground is hard and unyielding, but the steel cuts the heavy sod like a knife. He is preparing the soil for receiving the seed. He knows that what he is doing is imperative and he shouts out to encourage the horse. Its getting late and he wants to cut another furrow before night.

Plodding behind the plow he thinks many things. He can break up the ground, till and fertilize it, sow the seed— and then wait. He is powerless it get the seed to germinate and grow. He is limited to cultivating the soil and waiting. That is all he can really do, and he accepts this powerlessness. He can do everything right, and still not have a crop. All he can do is his part.

The farmer works in partnership with God. He is dependent on Him to grow the seed. The farmer must rely on the weather to meet and engage the planted seed. There are no shortcuts here. He does all he can, and then hopes that it is enough.

Farming is a joint endeavor between man and God. The man does what he has to do. God takes what the man has done and then finishes it. The crop will grow because He wills it. The farmer plays a part for sure, but ultimately God must become involved. Afterall, He makes the seed to sprout and grow.

We can say decisively that the pursuit of holiness in a Christian’s life is a joint endeavor between a believer and God.

Each have made the effort. The Christian does what is necessary, and then the seed is finally sown. It is then up to God to make the seed become the seedling. But each must work to finish the growth.

No one can attain holiness in their life apart from the work of preparation (it’s indeed work). The man must prepare the ground through plowing and cultivating. The farmer works the ground in order to make the ground ready. On the other hand, God provides both the environment and the growth needed to grow the seedling. Both the farmer and God must do their work.

A life of holiness is not automatic. It will never come at measured pace, trickling into our souls at a mechanized rate. (It would be nice if it would). Rather it wheat-field-landscape-picture_1920x1200_79595seems to come, in fits and spurts, sputtering rather than simply flowing.

Holiness is like a steamy Amazon jungle, vibrant and full of life. It is saturated with things living and green. It is not like an arid and sterile desert. Holiness is pulsating and powerful, full of lush growing things.

Becoming a person of holiness is the grandest adventure for the human soul. It defies our tendency to be rigid and legalistic. It is quite the opposite. It is tapping into life itself, and who is up to the task? Our morbid ideas of what holiness are not worthy of what really is.

Yes, to be holy is to work. Just as the farmer must prepare the soil for the seed, we too must guide our plows. God is ready to sow, and we should be ready to be ready. That is if we want to be fruitful and productive.

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!”

 Jim Elliot

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Simply Mary, at Jesus’ Feet

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We see Mary three times in the gospels, and each time she is in the same posture — “at Jesus’ feet.” When we have our first glimpse within the Bethany home, we find Martha in her characteristic attitude– working and serving; and Mary we see sitting at the Master’s feet, sitting eagerly and listening to His words.

Our second view of Mary is when Jesus came back to Bethany after the death of Lazarus, and the sisters went out to meet Him. Again, we see her at the feet of Christ. But this time in deep sorrow, seeking comfort. And then we observe her a third time. She has come to anoint the feet of Jesus. We find her again, at Jesus’ feet, and now she is honoring her Lord.

She has this peculiar habit, and that is to be at the feet of Jesus. 

It is her natural posture. I believe that she feels entirely comfortable in this place.  I have personally seen sparrows’ nest on a sheer cliff hundreds of feet straight up, without any apprehension at all. I have been astonished at their daring and simple confidence.  And Mary has this spunk.  She has that certain easy and confident boldness.

Martha, the oldest, obviously has the theology.  We see her taking issue with Jesus, she is questioning, and confronting.  But with Mary it seems, there is a quiet contentment and a rest.  An open readiness to receive. We don’t see that too much, but Mary was a “learner.”  She had become learned in the grace of trusting simply.

The greatness of her love enabled her to kneel.  She was centered on her Master, He was the focus of her attention.  We dare not minimize this, or try to focus on something less “holy.” This is not something we can easily duplicate, because it proceeds out of a heart that is absorbed in love.  It may appear to be unseemly, and we scratch our head with nervous skepticism.  But it seems whenever Mary comes into the presence of Jesus, she works her way to the front– so she can sit with Jesus. (Interestingly, the Orthodox Church regard Mary to be the first real disciple.)

We have so much to learn from Mary.  Our Christian life can be very shallow and seem rather anemic.  We live in a culture that is racked in intellectualism and pride.  When we engage it we may end up with a bit of haughtiness and a lot of selfishness to deal with.  Mary can be our compass, and our example as we crash through these issues into authentic discipleship.  She really does deserve to be esteemed, and recognized for inspiring us to be with Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for Mary.  May I become like her and have you very close. I want to sit at your feet.  I choose you. I choose to be with you.

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ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.