Happy Friday to all. I woke to a "toasty" +2 degrees this morning, the 05:05 "dance of the "starving kitties". Never could get back to sleep, something about bare feet on a cold floor and the body's reactions to all of that. Now, yes, there have been times, too many times, in my life when 05:00 was a normal "get up" time to go to work. (Not counting the several times that this was when I was just getting home FROM work). That's no longer the case. But while I don't have to rise that early, I don't want to fall into the temptation to stay in bed until 10:00 or so, it creates some bad habits.
So I lay in bed, read the passages below, spent some time praying over them, traded some text messages and e-mails, responded to a few things on "social media". Then my phone got hijacked, again. I'm afraid of ransomware, and the like, and studiously avoid known phishing sites and such. But the next 48 hours or so will tell. This phone is one I got back in 2013 when I was still working. With our deal (as one-time cell phone dealers), I could get a newer one essentially for free , but have liked this one. We shall see.
Hot water in the bathroom sink had been frozen, finally got it flowing again. Hope the drain isn't frozen as well, that happens sometimes. I see that the schools are closed in our most recent out-of state home as there were predictions of more than an inch of snow there. That was in central Alabama. Ditto for our home previous to that, in eastern Tennessee, Anderson County. Ditto for one home previous to THAT, in western Arkansas, Sebastian County Ditto for the one previous to THAT, in eastern Tennessee, Blount County. One wonders how they would have take to what we had last night and what is out there right now, here. Oh well.
Wife seems to be a teeny bit better. A bit. Not in quite as much pain as the last few days, and perhaps a slightly lower fever.
News is full of four drug O.D. deaths in a neigboring city over the holiday weekend. One victim was over 60, another over 50. I was encountering drug addicts, junkies if you prefer, more than 40 years ago in that same city. Had hoped we would never see that again. But we do. It's not a pretty thing, trust me on that. I have found dead human bodies before. Not an enjoyable experience or memory. None were of those close to me, I can't imagine what it feels like to find your dad or brother dead on the floor with a needle in his arm. No, drug use is NOT a "victimless crime".
The reading in the Old Testament today is chapters 15, 16. and 17 of the Genesis. This is the Lord and Abram. This is where Abram, "exalted father", is renamed Abraham, "father of a multitude". And Sarai, meaning "princess" is renamed Sarah, implying "THE Princess".
Pretty fancy names for old folks with no kids. "Father"??
There is something in most of us that wants to leave a mark on the world that will outlast us. For these people, often nomads, a fixed marker was outside of their scope. The mark, the legacy, would be their children. IF, of course, they had any. The lack of children at this point in their lives, had to have weighed on Abram and Sarai, both. A mark, it might be thought, of Divine displeasure.
We often try to make marks even today. Remember the motivation for the Tower of Babel? To leave a mark. I see buildings in cities and towns with names on the fascia. So-and-so's Science Building at the University. The so-and-so Family Center at a church site. The so-and-so Boulevard. And so forth. I've been in churches with little brass plates on the ends of some of the pews, a sign of the person or family whose donations paid for that pew. The Nobel Prize, named for Mr. Nobel. The Pulitzer prize, same thing. Need more examples? Sometimes these things are done after the passing of the individual named, sometimes, particularly street names, are done as a reward to the real estate developer. Not a whole lot removed from the dog who urinates at the corners of "his" yard, leaving a "no trespassing" notice that other dogs will detect.
What kind of a legacy do we leave? After all, none of us will live in this body forever. Any of us could pass within the next 24 hours. I had a neighbor die recently, just a day after we'd talked. Gone now. His legacy is a big garage he'd just built to house his racing cars, something that his wife of less than six weeks' duration, probably has zero interest in. Some legacy! Oh, and several ex-wives and at least one child who'd not seen him in years and at least one grand-child who never met him. Legacy.
Who rates our legacy? The map maker for the town? The trustees of the church or college or library? Short-term, if so. For those unfamiliar, I recommend meditation upon a bit of poetry recalling Ozymandias.
Jesus, who should be our model, left no physical monuments, nor children of His body. His immediate disciples mostly died in bad ways, mostly without progeny or wealth. Their legacy, and His too, was obedience to the Father. The Lord took that obedience, and used it to change the world.
Abraham also was obedient, and it changed the world too. He was the father of the Jews, which would include Jesus and those disciples. With quite a bit of opposition, too. That hasn't changed.
To Abraham, that promise of the land his descendants would hold, seemed vast beyond belief. Yet, as the Scripture records, "he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.".
That grant of land, which promise is still good, extended from the Nile River to the Euphrates River. Quite a bit of land! As in, a good bit of what is now Egypt, over to Iraq and parts of Turkey. So much for the "west Bank" wails!
Now, there is nothing necessarily wrong with naming stuff after those whose efforts made those things possible. Necessarily. Yes, it can become an idol of sorts (see the descendants of Gideon for example). But our real legacy, our real legacy, is a living one. The lives we have touched, by God's grace. All of us have touched some. Sometimes for good, sometimes not. And sometimes we don't even realize it. But the Lord knows, and sometimes those we've touched know as well, and perhaps we will learn of it in Glory. Or before the White Throne.
The promises that the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah came to pass. When Isaac (meaning "he will laugh") was born, Sarah was 90 years old! Abraham was 100, as we will see in a few days. WELL beyond the point at which we would think people capable of having children. But if the Lord could create the world, and light, and gravity, with a word, nothing is beyond His reach. We do well to remember that. When all seems lost and dark and hopeless, when we are tempted to despair and lose hope, He is still there. I know.
The New Testament passage is verses 27-48 in the 5th chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. More of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus teaching, we do well to remember that. Anyone think we can carry out His commands -- for they are that, commands, not trite suggestions -- in our own power? I can't.