This Day.

One Day
24 Hours
1,440 Minutes.
We are all blessed with the same.

Each morning is a blank page, waiting to be filled with

words.

memories.

encounters.

tasks.

How do you choose to fill your day?
With scheduled minutes,
or unplanned moments?

We have a choice.  To rush and hurry
chasing the second hand in dizzying circles around the clock

Or to do the same things in a progression of moments.
Choosing to value the who over the what.

How will you choose to fill this day?

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Isaac Moments, Part II

Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him
Genesis 22:2

I remember the first time I ever practiced Lectio Divina.  I was in a class and we were asked to meditate on Genesis 22, the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  It was a time of my life when I was experiencing a lot of loss, and I remember myself being furious with God.  How dare he?  How dare he constantly ask us to give up our treasures, the people that we love, our tangible proof of God’s promises?  Why?  What kind of heartless, egotistical God would constantly require such sacrifice?  Why was he constantly stripping us of things that we cherish, relationships that we need?

For a long time after this experience, I just avoided the passage.  I just told myself that this was the Old Testament God (always a convenient excuse, yes?)  And that our God is different, he doesn’t take all that we love from us.  But still, in the back of my mind, a small ember of resentment glowed orange.

It wasn’t until I had children myself, that I found a new understanding of this passage.  For, as I wrote in an earlier post, parenting is terrifying.  Every day I am confronted with a myriad of terrors, I’m always reading about newly uncovered dangers to my child’s health, well being, psyche.    It’s enough to make me want to tape him up in a suit of bubble wrap, and force him to wear a helmet 24 hours a day.  But then again, that would make him that kid, and cause harm of another kind.  When God called Abraham to lay his precious boy on the altar, he is asking him to trust.  He is asking Abraham to put GOD first in his life, and to trust that God has a plan.  One that is ultimately good.  For us.  For our precious children.  For the world.

For you see, when I was reflecting on this passage initially, I missed one important point.  God provided a sacrifice.  Abraham didn’t have to murder his son in order to please his Father.  What was placed on that altar ultimately was not Isaac, it was Abraham’s expectations for his son.  Who he thought that Isaac would be, what he thought Isaac should be.  Abraham’s expectations of control, of pride, of success.  God asked Abraham to trust in God’s good plan, and the second Abraham was faithful to this call, a sacrifice was provided.  A new way, heretofore unseen, was given.

When we unclench our fists and ask for God’s plan, not our plan, to determine our steps, the sacrifice is complete.*  God isn’t taking away the things we treasure out of spite or ego.  Instead, he is inviting us into freedom.  Asking us to trust that life isn’t about us and our plans, but about a bigger, better plan, that we can’t even see or appreciate fully.  It takes the pressure off of ourselves to get it right, and places the expectation upon God to provide. Life becomes less about fear of what could happen, and more about a breathless expectation to see what will happen.

Selah.

*Just to be clear, the sacrifice I am referring to here isn’t the Ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus’ atonement for our sins.  Instead, I am referring to the sacrifice Abraham was asked to offer- to give up control and his sense of power over his own destiny, and to trust God to provide…

psalm 46

Psalm 46

 God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Once again,  I find myself captivated by Selah.  I read this Psalm last week as part of our church’s sermon series, and it has really stuck with me.  This psalm paints such a picture of tumult, of mountains tottering, seas roaring, nations at war, chaos everywhere.  And yet, in the midst of it, God is our fortress.  When I hear the news lately, I find myself just wanting to turn it back off. There is so much hate, strife, death, upheaval, disaster and pain in our world today.  I want to find a safe place for me and my little family and just run away from it all.  But this is not the way of believers.  Instead, we are called to make our haven in the midst of the storms.  Why?  Because God is our fortress.  He is our present help in times of trouble.  He is with us wherever we go.

Each stanza in this Psalm paints a bleak picture, one of chaos, fear, insecurity.  One characterized by stress and unrest.  And yet in each stanza, God reminds us that he is present.  That he is our refuge, our source of strength.  How often in the midst of the chaos do you feel God’s presence?  For me, not much.  It is only in retrospect that I can see his sustenance, his provision for me.  In the middle of it, I am too afraid, moving too fast, too distracted to even look for God.  But even still… he is there.

I think that God put the Selahs in this Psalm in very strategic places.  Right in the midst of the teeming chaos, the frenetic pace, the sky is falling emotions, God inserts a simple selah.  Stop.  Think on this.  God is telling us he is here, that he is protecting us, but we have to stop and stand in trust in order to feel His presence. In verse 10, he even says it flat out.  BE STILL, and know that I am God.  I am in control.  Not you.  I am a fortress.  You are safe within my walls.  Be still and trust me.  Be still and remember.  Stop.  And think on my faithfulness.  Stop your striving and remember that I am the one who sustains you.  I hold your tomorrows in my hand.

When is the last time you stopped?

When were you last still?