Entering into the last Sunday in the month of March. Lord willing, a week from now we will be well established into April. As I've often said, I prefer the months whose names are short. April, May, June sound MUCH better to me than December, January, or Februrary, etc. "March" is somewhat "iffy", the name is short but the weather isn't nice, we had snow on the ground a week ago. I hate that stuff and always did. So we're heading in the right direction I believe.
We survived the Birthday Gala of the Season yesterday. The 10-year-old Great Nephew is well and truly launched. We went, hung around a bit -- long enough to see the presents being opened and recorded. Left early. Wife came home and we got horizontal on the recliners for a while, recovering. Honor was served, I guess. His sister, great-niece #2 has something of the sort on schedule for the summer months. Hope that we survive that one as well.
I struggled all night long with the "Song of the Day" question.
So, two versions of one, the 2nd version being the story behind the song. I STRONGLY urge listening to that story. Our faith demands not the "easy beliefism" that Dietrich Bohnoeffer, among others, rightly condemned. It demands a real transformation, a commitment, that thing that our culture hates and fears.
I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
I Have Decided with story
and, in an odd way that only makes sense to a person with a weird way of looking at the world, had a country song in mind. Amarillo By Morning. Odd, yes? Sure, odd tie-in. Admitted. But in an odd way, I've "been there". I've been, personally, out there, with NOTHING but the clothes on my back, in an unfamiliar area, bent on a course that is uncertain. Sometimes, the demands of our faith are like that. Not the "safe space" that the "snowflakes" demand, but walking away from it all, heading into uncertain territory. I hope we have a higher motive than that of the likely character in the song, but if a rodeo competitor would do this, why can't a Christian?
Our Old Testament passage today is chapters 16, 17, and 18 of Joshua.
I was walking around meditating on this during the Gala. (yes, I'm a notorious multi-tasker). And both before and after the event we attended..
Most of our readings, certainly those in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, deal with some real day-to-day struggles of God's people. War, slavery, an uncertain daily life in a very hostile terrain, and mostly surrounded by nasty people who wished them ill. All the stuff of life.
The wars, for example. This was all close-quarter hand-to-hand combat against trained and motivated foes in lands they were invading. This gets very personal, very fast.
I found myself wondering why the Lord didn't simply, using His power, transmit them in a flash from Egypt to the Promised Land, a land already cleared of hostile forces, a land with all the necessities of life already in place, a land that they would neither have to fight for, nor tame.
Why? He could, after all. He invented light and gravity, after all. This immediate transfer would have been well within His powers, and He knew it. But He didn't. Why?
It's not an unreasonable question. Most of us, certainly including me, have wondered why the Lord didn't just miraculously remove the tumor, heal the damaged relationships, fill the bank account, make things Right as we measure them. And, yes, sometimes He does things that only He can do. We are grateful I hope. But other times no.
And, sometimes, He sets us to work on the matter.
As he did here in these issues. They only answer I can come up with is that the struggles, journeys, hardships, and all the rest of it, changed them as well as their circumstances. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Thomas Paine, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods;". Those struggles that we still go through affect us. Relying upon the Lord, with our own whole-hearted commitment, changes us. Among other things, it teaches us that we can and must rely upon Him, but that we may have a part to play as well. Not in salvation of course, that is a work of the Lord. But going from bondage, whether slavery in Egypt or drug addiction or any of a number of other things, requires our involvement and effort as well. The Exodus changed the character of the children of Israel. It affects our world to this very day. An easy blink of an eye would not have done that.
Our reading from the New Testament is verses 1-16 from chapter 5 in the Gospel of Luke.
Jesus is both teaching and working wonders. And here we see Him encountering Peter, James, and John. (Remember the little song? ). He was not only addressing crowds, He was also ministering the individual needs of individuals with their own specific needs, ones not necessarily common to the community at large. I admit to wishing that I knew what became of this man after being healed of leprosy. Certainly his life was changed. An encounter with Jesus will do that. Still happens, too.
But also, pay attention to the last verse. Jesus found it necessary to go off by Himself to pray. We should follow that example, consistently.