What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be Ruth of the Bible”

ruth-001

“What now?” clawed at her throat, but the words refused to be uttered from her mouth.  Disbelief that her husband was deadlocked those words in her tortured mind.  Numbness over the reality of it all would have made her swoon if it were not for the look on her mother-in-law’s face.

“Not now,” Ruth thought as she tried to hold on to her composure despite the sadness that gripped her own heart.  “Noami needs me to be strong,” she silently willed within herself.  “First, Elimelech, and now this.  How much more can she bear?”

“Daughters,” Naomi spoke up, “it is time,” feeling greatly resolved at the decision that had to be made.

“What?” both women, Ruth and Orpah, spoke in unison.

“It is time for me to return home.  Oh, girls, Moab has been good to my family and me these last years.  But, Moab is not home.”  Looking at their pleading eyes Naomi continued, “It has recently come to my attention that the famine we fled from is now over.  God has blessed my people once again with His favor.  There is now bread in Bethlehem.  I have no more reason to stay here.  It is time for me to go back.”

“But, what of your life here,” asked one of the women?

“I no longer have a life here, dear,” Naomi cried with sobs breaking through her words.  “In this land, I have had to say goodbye to the people I treasure most in this world.  This land has taken my heart; it has taken my family.  I’ve watched my husband die and now I am forced to let go of my sons.  What is there left for me here?”

“Naomi, you have us,” Ruth spoke confidently.

“No, my daughter.  It is best if you two return to your homes as I must return to mine.  I am old.  I have nothing left to offer you.”

“Mother,” Ruth lovingly and gently spoke to her.  “We can do this together.  You don’t have to return to Bethlehem and we don’t have to leave your side.  Somehow, some way we can make this work.”

Sighing, with the prayerful hope for understanding, Naomi turned to the face that bore the sadness of her own.  “Child, I love you both, and I would that for all the world to have things as they once were.  But, it is not so.  Things will never be the same for me again.  Not here anyway.  Now, I must return to my own people where I belong to seek solace for this old, broken heart.”

“Then, permit us to go with you,” Ruth said with Orpah nodding in agreement.

“Mahlon and Chilion were my only sons.  I have no more.  I am now too old to remarry.  It’s as I told you, I have nothing left offer you.  It would be selfish of me to ask you to give up the possibility of a better future in your parent’s homes to follow me.  Go, return now to your own people.  Perhaps God will be gracious to you and you can remarry there and start over again someday.”

“You don’t mean that do you,” Ruth questioned as she looked into the eyes of the woman whom she has come to love?  Sobbing by her side, Orpah could not speak.  Their world had been shaken, but Naomi is right, she thought within herself.

There was a decision that had to be made that day.  Both Ruth and Orpah would have to choose what path in life they would follow.

What would it have been like to stand there that day and to make that decision?  Those times were not favorable toward women who were all alone.  Should they stay or should they go?

Walking into the unknown toward Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth chose to go.  Orpah chose to return back home to her people.  There she would hope to find some semblance of normalcy and stability.  Ruth, as the Bible says, clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from this woman who has meant so much to her.

That day Ruth walked away from everything familiar with no promise for better.  Ruth turned her back on her own family to love and support this woman who is not even of her own flesh and blood.  Ruth chose a path most would not want to travel.  Hers was a path of self-sacrifice.  Lest one take her story too lightly, they should consider her life in comparison with ours today.

Before I go anywhere I plan ahead in great detail to be sure I lack nothing when I arrive.  Ruth had no such pleasure.  Not only was she not guaranteed any provisions of life, but would they even accept her in Bethlehem.  Surely by now, they knew that Naomi’s sons married Moabite women.  How would she be treated?  People would rejoice at the return of Naomi, but what of her?  In that place, are there those who would take advantage of her?  If any of those questions ever arose they were not spoken for fear of thwarting the opportunity to follow Naomi.  Her only concern was for that very woman, not herself.

In every part of her journey, Ruth stepped into the unknown.  In her travels with Naomi, in her arrival in Bethlehem, her work at gleaning the fields to try and support Naomi, and in her marriage to Boaz.  Everything was new to her and everything was strange.  But, everything she did, she did for the love and care of Naomi.

What would it have been like to give up so much; to show so much love to make such a decision?  If we knew all the particulars of a woman in her situation in that day we would see that hers was a decision of pure love.

She knew everything she was leaving behind.  She didn’t know anything about where she was headed.  But, declaring God as her own, her mind was made up and her heart was fixed.  Onward she walked the journey where life would lead her because of that decision made that day.

In the end, God greatly blessed her life and the sacrifices she made on behalf of another.  So much so, that she ended up giving birth to Obed who is the grandfather of King David, the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It started out with a decision.  Not knowing what we were stepping into, would we have been able to make that decision?  What would it have been like to be Ruth of the Bible?

Ruth teaches us our decisions matter!

Advertisements

What Would It Have Been Like? | “In the Garden with God”

One of my favorite times of the day is waking up.  Not the actual waking up part (sometimes that’s a little hard 😉 ), but when I finally get up, I get to draw back the curtains and see the new day.  It’s untouched.  It’s filled with hope and promise.  Whatever happened yesterday is not here for this is today.  It’s that freshness that draws me in and gets my soul stirred for the possibilities ahead.

When we go on vacation one of the places we stay at is a condo in the mountains.  It’s so peaceful.  With coffee in hand in the morning, I head out onto the balcony and sit to admire the new day.  The only thing I hear is the birds singing their song.  The deer as they break twigs and rustle leaves when they walk.  Sometimes you see the groundhogs and other animals eating their meals for the day.  You get this sense about you that this is the way it was meant to be.

And it makes me wonder about a time when all days were meant to be like this.  When there was a time when all days started in innocence and nothing was yet corrupted.  When there was a time that man walked freely in the Garden with God.

I love gardens and I declare one day I will have a nice one.  We were meant to live the garden lifestyle.  We were designed to reign in innocence and peace.  The world we live in today contradicts the fellowship we were created to have with God.  We were to have an up close relationship with Him, “And they heard to sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…,” (Gen. 3:8, NKJV).

Let your mind go back, not to the sin but to the experience of being with God in the garden.  Adam and Eve experienced God on a level that no other being will have the privilege to.  Surely this was not the first time God had paid them a visit for they knew what it sounded like when they heard Him walking.  They had a realistic divine view of the Almighty here on earth.

What would it have been like to have the Sovereign of the universe, day by day to come and see about me?  What would it have been like to see the mouth that spoke things into existence speaking to me?  What would it have been like to hear those footsteps with my own ears and know it was the Lord?  What would it have been like to see the hands that fashioned me from nothing standing there, willing to clothe me, Gen. 3:21.  What would it have been like?

There, before the Fall, fellowship with God was uninterrupted by evil.  There the beauty of all God is could be seen by those He created.  There, peace was the predominate feeling because the shaker of peace had not come on the scene.  There, God spoke to man face to face unhindered by fleshly desires.  There, it’s hard to imagine, but life was nothing but good because man knew nothing but God.

Imagine the best backyard barbeque.  We sit around laughing and enjoying the company of others.  In the garden with God, can we even imagine Adam and God chit-chatting about the day, about the animals or about life in general?  Can we imagine the way Adam’s heart must have felt assured every time He heard the voice of God speak to him?  Can we imagine that when Eve was presented to her husband there was no fear, only love, because that’s all they ever received was love on the earth?  Can we really imagine?

It may be hard for our mind to fathom such an age of innocence and honesty.  It’s hard for us to see what this must have been like because now our view has been corrupted by sin.  But I imagine it was glorious.  It was nothing like we’ll ever know here on earth.  In that garden, during that time, beauty is all that was seen with our eyes and with our hearts.  God was all that was known.  Oh, imagine.

It’s hard to put into words when everyone was right before God.  It’s hard to describe from one’s soul a place of longing but never viewing.  It’s hard to capture the essence of what being with God was like there, and yet my heart still yearns to know what would it have been like?

What do you think it would have been like to see the world at its best?  What do think it would have been like to fellowship with God at your best?  Where we live in the mid-Atlantic region we are expected to have rain most of the day.  Even in this dreariest of settings, I’m looking at the trees swaying outside my window and imagining the beauty of that time.  I guess that’s what it would have been like, beautiful because everything was in harmony with God.  Beautiful represents their relationship with God and it represents the surrounding that God created for them.

One day we will experience that garden lifestyle again, that age of beautiful unbroken relationship with Him when we meet Him in our heavenly home.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be the Philippian Jailer”

“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus; no not one, no not one!” the one that Paul and Silas sang?  No!  But, we can be assured the praises and melodies they were singing before the Lord was just as spiritually moving.

That’s one of the dramatic things about this night.  After being beaten with rods and receiving many stripes these songs of praises could not be silenced. Some of it fell on deaf ears yet, some were listening.  If it were just Paul and Silas, then they could have quietly worshipped and kept it to themselves.  But, they were not alone in this prison, on this night.  Other inmates needed to believe that there is still a reason to rejoice in the midst of these darkest times.

Not everyone was attentive.  The melodious tune was not picked up by all as a listening pleasure.  The jailer, whom earlier was given the charge to keep the prisoners locked up securely (Acts 16:23), was fast asleep.  So deep was his slumber it took the earth to begin to quake to rouse him from his midnight dreams.

Once awakened, the dreams dissipated and the reality of all that appears to have transpired sets in.  The prison doors are not only unlocked, but they are fully opened giving free course of exit to any who wished to leave.  After all, it is a prison and who would rightly want to stay beholden by chains.

The jailer knew the vehement attitude the multitudes had against the two who were bound in the inner prison.  The charge to contain them at all cost was serious.  So serious, the jailer thought, “Since I have fallen asleep on my duty and have given the opportunity of freedom to them that were bound, I must now seal my failure with my own death.  For surely, when the magistrates come and find out my fault, I shall pay with my life anyway.”

Determined not to let this go any further, the jailer drew his sword to perform the unthinkable.  When out of the dark, a voice arose above his desperation and called out, pleading with him to spare his own life.

What would it have been like?  What would it have been like to walk in the Philippian jailer’s shoes on that night?  One moment, he is captured by failure and facing death to sighing audibly a cry of relief at the voice of deliverance.

The law was the law and had he not heard that calling voice, he would surely be dead by now.

Unbelief demands evidence.  Grabbing the closest light, he runs back into the depths of the prison walls and comes face to face with the convicted.  “But, what’s this?  Why didn’t they flee?  The shackles are loosed; the doors are opened, and yet, they remain?”  He thought, “Why?”

The jailer found out that though these men were convicted and sentenced by law, they carried a deeper conviction in their souls.  Beaten, yet they sit.  “Surely, this can’t be possible?” his mind racing, trying to grasp everything at once and take it all in.

Then, as if a new page was turned in a book, a new chapter began in his life.  “Whatever faith and conviction these men have is superior to that which we have learned under Roman rule.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

What would it have been like to be the Philippian jailer, you ask?  Though we are not guards during the ancient rule, any of us can associate with the lost state of the jailer on that night.  He was condemned physically because of his failure.  He was condemned spiritually because, as David said, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” (Psalm 51:5, KJV).  The reality for the need of this salvation these men possessed pressed on the jailer as it did on us.

At one point or another, we have all had to run to the proverbial “altar” seeking, “What must I do to be saved?” as the jailer did.  Therefore, though much time has passed between him and us, the same cry of heart gets the attention of the same God.

How many times had he kept guard of the convicted?  How many times had he led the bound to their deaths?  We don’t know.  But, we do know that it only took one time for him to come face to face with his own mortality to realize there has to be a change in his life.

“Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.  And immediately he and all his family were baptized,” (Acts 16:32-33, NKJV).  The humbleness of all that happened in those few short hours promoted an attitude of service and repentance.  He was ready to be cleansed and made whole from the inside out.  “Who knows what tomorrow would bring, but tonight, I have to get right with God,” he must have thought as he contemplated it all.  And, the Bible tells us that he was baptized!

You ask, what would it have been like?  My response, “Don’t you know already?”  To be surrounded by death every day, and as quickly as one comes up out of the water, they have crossed the threshold into the newness of life.

That’s the epitome of salvation for the jailer and for us.  “Having believed in God,” (Acts 16:34, NKJV), and have our whole lives turned around.  The jailer may have been the guard on duty that night, but he was the one set free!  For that’s what salvation does for all that come to Him.

What would it have been like?  I think we already know.  The circumstances may be different but the salvation is the same.

In the end, it all worked out.  The jailer may have wondered what tomorrow would bring.  After all, he wouldn’t feel right about locking these men back up, would he?  At the same time, their freedom still meant his death.  The Bible tells us, “When it was day, the magistrates sent officers, saying, ‘Let those men go,’” (Acts 16:35, NKJV).

Could it be that God allowed Paul and Silas to go through all of that to save one soul, one household?  Using pure speculation here, I’d say, “Could be!”  To the reader it would appear so for the Bible doesn’t talk about anyone else making a life changing conversion on that dramatic night.

The jailer may have sighed with relief when hearing the voice call out in the night, but now he really experiences what it feels like to be free.  God spared his life physically (again) and spiritually (forever).

The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened after the jailer received new life.  Does he stay on working as a guard?  Did he give it all up to spread his testimony of what God had done in his life?  We don’t know.  But, what we do know is that like us, his life was never the same again.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be Ruth of the Bible”

My Project 466-001

“What now?” clawed at her throat, but the words refused to be uttered from her mouth.  Disbelief that her husband was dead locked those words in her tortured mind.  Numbness over the reality of it all would have made her swoon if it were not for the look on her mother-in-law’s face.

“Not now,” Ruth thought as she tried to hold on to her composure despite the sadness that gripped her own heart.  “Noami needs me to be strong,” she silently willed within herself.  “First, Elimelech, and now this.  How much more can she bear?”

“Daughters,” Naomi spoke up, “it is time,” feeling greatly resolved at the decision that had to be made.

“What?” both women, Ruth and Orpah, spoke in unison.

“It is time for me to return home.  Oh, girls, Moab has been good to my family and me these last years.  But, Moab is not home.”  Looking at their pleading eyes Naomi continued, “It has recently come to my attention that the famine we fled from is now over.  God has blessed my people once again with His favor.  There is now bread in Bethlehem.  I have no more reason to stay here.  It is time for me to go back.”

“But, what of your life here,” asked one of the women?

“I no longer have a life here, dear,” Naomi cried with sobs breaking through her words.  “In this land I have had to say good-bye to the people I treasure most in this world.  This land has taken my heart; it has taken my family.  I’ve watched my husband die and now I am forced to let go of my sons.  What is there left for me here?”

“Naomi, you have us,” Ruth spoke confidently.

“No, my daughter.  It is best if you two return to your homes as I must return to mine.  I am old.  I have nothing left to offer you.”

“Mother,” Ruth lovingly and gently spoke to her.  “We can do this together.  You don’t have to return to Bethlehem and we don’t have to leave your side.  Somehow, some way we can make this work.”

Sighing and hoping for understanding, Naomi turned to the face that bore the sadness of her own.  “Child, I love you both, and I would that for all the world to have things as they once were.  But, it is not so.  Things will never be the same for me again.  Not here anyway.  Now, I must return to my own people where I belong to seek solace for this old, broken heart.”

“Then, permit us to go with you,” Ruth said with Orpah nodding in agreement.

“Mahlon and Chilion were my only sons.  I have no more.  I am now too old to remarry.  It’s as I told you, I have nothing left offer you.  It would be selfish of me to ask you to give up the possibility of a better future in your parent’s homes to follow me.  Go, return now to your own people.  Perhaps God will be gracious to you and you can remarry there and start over again someday.”

“You don’t mean that, do you,” Ruth questioned as she looked into the eyes of the woman whom she has come to love?  Sobbing by her side, Orpah could not speak.  Their world had been shaken, but Naomi is right, she thought within herself.

There was a decision that had to be made that day.  Both Ruth and Orpah would have to choose what path in life they would follow.

What would it have been like to stand there that day and to make that decision?  Those times were not favorable toward women who were all alone.  Should they stay or should they go?

Walking into the unknown toward Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth chose to go.  Orpah chose to return back home to her people.  There she would hope to find some semblance of normalcy and stability.  Ruth, as the Bible says, clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from this woman who has meant so much to her.

That day Ruth walked away from everything familiar with no promise for better.  Ruth turned her back on her own family to love and support this woman who is not even of her own flesh and blood.  Ruth chose a path most would not want to travel.  Hers was a path of self-sacrifice.  Lest, one take her story too lightly, they should consider her life in comparison with ours today.

Before I go anywhere I plan ahead in great detail to be sure I lack nothing when I arrive.  Ruth had no such pleasure.  Not only was she not guaranteed any provisions of life, but would they even accept her in Bethlehem.  Surely by now they knew that Naomi’s sons married Moabite women.  How would she be treated?  People would rejoice at the return of Naomi, but what of her?  In that place, are there those who would take advantage of her?  If any of those questions ever arose they were not spoken for fear of thwarting the opportunity to follow Naomi.  Her only concern was for that very woman, not herself.

In every part of her journey Ruth stepped into the unknown.  In her travels with Naomi, in her arrival in Bethlehem, her work at gleaning the fields to try and support Naomi, and in her marriage to Boaz.  Everything was new to her and everything was strange.  But, everything she did, she did for the love and care of Naomi.

What would it have been like to give up so much; to show so much love to make such a decision?  If we knew all the particulars of a woman in her situation in that day we would see that hers was a decision of pure love.

She knew everything she was leaving behind.  She didn’t know anything about where she was headed.  But, declaring God as her own, her mind was made up and her heart was fixed.  Onward she walked the journey where life would lead her because of that decision made that day.

In the end, God greatly blessed her life and the sacrifices she made on behalf of another.  So much so, that she ended up giving birth to Obed who is the grandfather of King David, the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It started out with a decision.  Not knowing what we were stepping into, would we have been able to make that decision?  What would it have been like to be Ruth of the Bible?

Ruth teaches us our decisions matter!

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To See Dead Bones Live!”

ezekiel 37 3-001

“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army,” Ezekiel 37:10, NKJV

If looking at a valley of dead bones isn’t enough to shake you, then what follows would have blown my mind!  God does some pretty amazing things in the Bible and this by far has to be one of my favorite stories that display His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to hear of people being brought back from the dead and it’s quite another to see the process with the naked eye.  Think about it, what would it have been like?

Can you imagine being there with God and Him turning to you to ask what is supposedly a simple but not so simple question?  “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV).  “What?  Did I hear Him right?” is what Ezekiel must have thought.  “Can these bones live?” the question just rolled through his mind dumbfounding him.  Awestruck, his response was as I believe mine would have been, “O Lord GOD, You know,” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV), while shrugging my shoulders all kinds of ways.  At that point I believe Ezekiel was starting to realize in a whole new way the magnitude of God.  Looking out over the valley and seeing the waste of what was once life and trying to imagine them alive, his response was to appeal to the sovereignty of God – “You know!”

God does know but he wants us to know that He knows.  Right?  It sounds like some teenage gibberish but God puts these questions out there to see where our belief lies.  To see if we really see Him as being in control of everything including those things that appear dead.

I don’t know personally how it must have looked but I can imagine the scene in my head.  Sitting on the edge of a cliff and looking down and then out to see nothing but human remains.  Sitting stock still in horror, I would have started pondering all the “what’s, who’s, why’s and how’s” this all came to pass.  What battle took place?  Who was involved?  Why did it have to come to this?  How is it that there were none left to bury the dead?  There, just a mass of unanswered questions covering a sea of death.

What would have been like?  The appearance of body upon body stacked and scattered throughout would have been too much for me.  It reminds me of the scene in The Lion King where a young Simba goes to the Elephant Graveyard.  Nothing existed there.  Just death and shadows; coldness and loneliness.  Nothing to cheer about, nothing to hope for if it were not for that question that came from the Lord.  “Can these bones live?”

Death in reverse is what God was stating.  Taking an impossible act of nature and reenacting the process on rewind.  If the question wasn’t enough, how about the command.  “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!'”(Ez. 37:5, NKJV).  Standing reverently but in utter stupefaction, Ezekiel knew that he was at a point of no return in his ministry.  God was drawing him into the process.  “I don’t know about this,” would have been what most were thinking as they did as He commanded.    “I’m still reeling from the sight and I am not sure I am quite ready for the process. “

But that’s the real question God was asking him.  Not if they can live but is he ready to be a part of the process.  Surely, by now Ezekiel had known the answer of what God can do, but was he sure of what God can do through him?  Are you sure of what God can do through you?

What would it have been like?  At the spoken command to hear before you see an unsettling sound.  A noise permeated the air.  Rattling overshadowed the quiet of the valley.  In a place that knew only demise and decay was now going to be re-identified as something miraculous.  The rattle was with purpose.  It meant things were moving into their proper place.  It meant brokenness was being made whole.  It was the start of a brand new life where there was none before.  This was incredible to not only witness but to be a part of!

After the re-attachment of limbs and other skeletal remains.  After heads rolled back to the top of their owners then the real stuff transpired.  It’s one thing for bones to find their host bodies and reattached themselves.  It’s quite another to witness those very bones, the nothingness that was left, begin to take on a new life.  Sinews and flesh began recover the bleached parched surfaces (Eww!).  All the while, Ezekiel just watches.  What would you do?  Like a train wreck, as horrible as it may seem you can’t tear your eyes away from it.  Under the ribs organs began to reform and the life supply of veins maneuvered their way throughout, spreading the possibility for more.  My personal opinion is that the flesh and sinews had to cover them first because all that underneath stuff was just too vomitrocious to witness – I’m just saying!

Did I say stupefaction?  Yes, I did because at this point my mind would have been utterly blown away by all that transpired thus far.  But God was not done.  He was truly reversing the life process.  The bodies were now formed and covered “but there was no breath in them,” (Ez. 37:8, NKJV).  God gave him a new command, ‘Prophesy to the breath . . . Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain that they may live,” (Ez. 37:9, NKJV).  Ezekiel had no problem doing as was commanded of him, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army,” (Ez. 37:10, NKJV).  Before they stood did they gasp at the feel of air entering their lungs once again?  When they stood, did they turn to each other recognizing the “what was” and processing the “what is now?”

What would their future look like now?  Or, is this just all a vision?

To see dead bones live in this fashion would have been an awesome and beautiful thing to see.  Think about it.  God took an impossible situation and did a complete 360.  It’s as if He had His finger on the hands of some big cosmic spiritual clock and purposefully began to rotate it backwards.  Spinning it and spinning it until all of death had to let go and life came to the forefront once again.  What would it have been like to witness this?

Don’t you know?  We may have not been bones but what remained of us of what the world stripped away was given a new command in the valley.  The valley, our lowest point of life, was shaken and rattled until it stood at the command of God.  Our lifelessness was renewed when His spirit breathed in us freshness untold.  Before He had a vision of us we were surrounded by spiritual death but then there arose potential out of nothingness.  Captured by grace and loved on by His mercy we received in us His gift of a second chance.

There’s a lot of things in that particular valley that would have left me unsettled but I only had to turn to the One who was commanding the change in me and see the love in His eyes for me.  I only had to look and believe as He did that there is something alive here, there is something that can be raised up for me.  We have been in that valley.  Vision or no, we have been to the place of impossibility just to see Him make it possible.

To see those bones rise to new life and live would have been amazingly awesome but to see what He has done in me is far better.  I don’t know what it would have been like there but I know what it is like here.  “Therefore we were buried with Him through  baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness if life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:5-6, NKJV).  Because of Christ I got a chance to experience life outside of the valley.  What about you?  God can do amazing things through you, too.  Get ready for the process to see dead bones live!

“What would it have been like in the Garden with God?”

One of my favorite times of the day is waking up.  Not the actual waking up part (sometimes that’s a little hard 😉 ), but when I finally get up, I get to draw back the curtains and see the new day.  It’s untouched.  It’s filled with hope and promise.  Whatever happened yesterday is not here for this is today.  It’s that freshness that draws me in and gets my soul stirred for the possibilities ahead.

021When we go on vacation one of the places we stay at is a condo in the mountains.  It’s so peaceful.  With coffee in hand in the morning, I head out onto the balcony and sit to admire the new day.  The only thing I hear is the birds singing their song.  I hear the deer as they break twigs and rustle leaves when they walk.  Sometimes you see the groundhogs and other animals eating.  You get this sense about you that this is the way it was meant to be.  022

And it makes me wonder about a time when all days were meant to be like this.  When there was a time when all days started in innocence and nothing was yet corrupted.  When there was a time that man walked freely in the Garden with God.

I love gardens and I declare one day I will have a nice one.  We were meant to live the garden lifestyle (see Made For Green).  We were designed to reign in innocence and peace.  The world we live in today contradicts the fellowship we were created to have with God.  We were to have an up close relationship with Him, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day . . .,” (Gen. 3:8, NKJV).

Let your mind go back, not to the sin but to the experience of being with God in the garden.  Adam and Eve experienced God on a level that no other being will have privilege to.  Surely this was not the first time God had paid them a visit for they knew what it sounded like when they heard Him walking.  They had a realistic divine view of the Almighty here on earth.

What would it have been like to have the Sovereign of the universe, day by day to come and see about me?  What would it have been like to see the mouth that spoke things into existence speaking to me?  What would it have been like to hear those footsteps with my own ears and know it was the Lord?  What would it have been like to see the hands that fashioned me from nothing standing there, willing to clothe me, (Gen. 3:21)?  What would it have been like?

There, before the Fall, fellowship with God was uninterrupted by evil.  There, the beauty of all God is could be seen by those He created.  There, peace was the predominate feeling because the shaker of peace had not come on the scene.  There, God spoke to man face to face unhindered by fleshly desires.  There, it’s hard to imagine, but life was nothing but good because man knew nothing but God.

Imagine the best backyard barbeque.  We sit around laughing and enjoying the company of others.  In the garden with God, can we even imagine Adam and God chit-chatting about the day, about the animals or about life in general?  Can we imagine the way Adam’s heart must have felt assured every time He heard the voice of God speak to him?  Can we imagine that when Eve was presented to her husband there was no fear, only love, because that’s all they ever received was love on the earth?  Can we really imagine?

It may be hard for our mind to fathom such an age of innocence and honesty.  It’s hard for us to see what this must have been like because now our view has been corrupted by sin.  But, I imagine it was glorious.  It was nothing like we’ll ever know here on earth.  In that garden, during that time, beauty is all that was seen with our eyes and with our hearts.  God was all that was known.  Oh, imagine.

It’s hard to put into words when everyone was right before God.  It’s hard to describe from one’s soul a place of longing but never viewing.  It’s hard to capture the essence of what being with God was like there, and yet my heart still yearns to know what would it have been like?

What do you think it would have been like to see the world at its best?  What do think it would have been like to fellowship with God at your best?  Even in the dreariest of weather, I can look at the trees swaying outside my window and imagine the beauty of that time.  I guess that’s what it would have been like: Beautiful, because everything was in harmony with God.  Beautiful represents their relationship with God and it represents the surroundings that God created for them.

I am reading in the book of Genesis lately and this is where my wandering mind has taken me today to ask, “What would it have been like in the Garden with God?”

“Broken, but I can still FLY!”

10258705_516661508433958_5180777458435155685_o

“Merry Christmas Everyone!”

My Project 81-001

Just want to take some time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  God has used each one of you to bless me in one way or another this year.  You guys are awesome and I pray His very best for you now and into the next year. 

Also, unless I become deeply inspired 🙂 (we all know how that is), I will be taking the week off from writing.  There will be no new posts or Sunday School lessons until January. 

Be blessed.  Enjoy your Savior, your family, your friends, your holiday!

 

 

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be the Philippian Jailer”

Philippian Jailer-001

This one is dedicated to and inspired by my wonderful husband!

“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus; no not one, no not one!” the one that Paul and Silas sang?  No!  But, we can be assured the praises and melodies they were singing before the Lord were just as spiritually moving.

That’s one of the dramatic things about this night.  After being beaten with rods and receiving many stripes these songs of praises could not be silenced. Some of it fell on deaf ears yet, some were listening.  If it were just Paul and Silas, then they could have quietly worshiped and kept it to themselves.  But, they were not alone in this prison, on this night.  Other inmates needed to believe that there is still a reason to rejoice in the midst of these darkest times.

Not everyone was attentive.  The melodious tune was not picked up by all as a listening pleasure.  The jailer, whom earlier was given the charge to keep the prisoners locked up securely (Acts 16:23), was fast asleep.  So deep was his slumber it took the earth to begin to quake to rouse him from his midnight dreams.

Once awakened, the dreams dissipated and the reality of all that appears to have transpired sets in.  The prison doors are not only unlocked, but they are fully opened giving fee course of exit to any who wished to leave.  After all, it is a prison and who would rightly want to stay beholden by chains.

The jailer knew the vehement attitude the multitudes had against the two who were bound in the inner prison.  The charge to contain them at all cost was serious.  So serious, the jailer thought, “Since I have fallen asleep on my duty and have given opportunity of freedom to them that were bound, I must now seal my failure with my own death.  For surely, when the magistrates come and find out my fault, I shall pay with my life anyway.”

Determined not to let this go any further, the jailer drew his sword to perform the unthinkable.  When out of the dark, a voice arose above his desperation and called out, pleading with him to spare his own life.

What would it have been like?  What would it have been like to walk in the Philippian jailer’s shoes on that night?  One moment, he is captured by failure and facing death to sighing audibly a cry of relief at the voice of deliverance.

The law was the law and had he not heard that calling voice, he would surely be dead by now.

Unbelief demands evidence.  Grabbing the closest light, he runs back into the depths of the prison walls and comes face to face with the convicted.  “But, what’s this?  Why didn’t they flee?  The shackles are loosed; the doors are opened, and yet, they remain?”  He thought, “Why?”

The jailer found out that though these men were convicted and sentenced by law, they carried a deeper conviction in their souls.  Beaten, yet they sit.  “Surely, this can’t be possible?” his mind racing, trying to grasp everything at once and take it all in.

Then, as if a new page was turned in a book, a new chapter began in his life.  “Whatever faith and conviction these men have is superior to that which we have learned under Roman rule.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

What would it have been like to be the Philippian jailer, you ask?  Though we are not guards during the ancient rule, any of us can associate with the lost state of the jailer on that night.  He was condemned physically because of his failure.  He was condemned spiritually because, as David said, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” (Psalm 51:5, KJV).  The reality for the need of this salvation these men possessed pressed on the jailer as it did on us.

At one point or another we have all had to run to the proverbial “altar” seeking, “What must I do to be saved?” as the jailer did.  Therefore, though much time has passed between him and us, the same cry of heart gets the attention of the same God.

How many times had he kept guard of the convicted?  How many times had he led the bound to their deaths?  We don’t know.  But, we do know that it only took one time for him to come face to face with his own mortality to realize there has to be a change in his life.

“Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.  And immediately he and all his family were baptized,” (Acts 16:32-33, NKJV).  The humbleness of all that happened in those few short hours promoted an attitude of service and repentance.  He was ready to be cleansed and made whole from the inside out.  “Who knows what tomorrow would bring, but tonight, I have to get right with God,” he must have thought as he contemplated it all.  And, the Bible tells us that he was baptized!

You ask, what would it have been like?  My response, “Don’t you know already?”  To be surrounded by death every day, and as quickly as one comes up out of the water, they have crossed the threshold into the newness of life.

That’s the epitome of salvation for the jailer and for us.  “Having believed in God,” (Acts 16:34, NKJV), and have our whole lives turned around.  The jailer may have been the guard on duty that night, but he was the one set free!  For that’s what salvation does for all that come to Him.

What would it have been like?  I think we already know.  The circumstances may be different but the salvation is the same.

In the end it all worked out.  The jailer may have wondered what tomorrow would bring.  After all, he wouldn’t feel right about locking these men back up, would he?  At the same time, their freedom still meant his death.  The Bible tells us, “When it was day, the magistrates sent officers, saying, ‘Let those men go,’” (Acts 16:35, NKJV).

Could it be that God allowed Paul and Silas to go through all of that to save one soul, one household?  Using pure speculation here, I’d say, “Could be!”  To the reader it would appear so for the Bible doesn’t talk of anyone else making a life changing conversion on that dramatic night.

The jailer may have sighed with relief when hearing the voice call out in the night, but now he really experiences what it feels like to be free.  God spared his life physically (again) and spiritually (forever).

The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened after the jailer received new life.  Does he stay on working as a guard?  Did he give it all up to spread his testimony of what God had done in his life?  We don’t know.  But, what we do know is that like us, his life was never the same again.

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To See Dead Bones Live!”

ezekiel 37 3-001

“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army,” Ezekiel 37:10, NKJV

If looking at a valley of dead bones isn’t enough to shake you, then what follows would have blown my mind!  God does some pretty amazing things in the Bible and this by far has to be one of my favorite stories that display His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to hear of people being brought back from the dead and it’s quite another to see the process with the naked eye.  Think about it, what would it have been like?

Can you imagine being there with God and Him turning to you to ask what is supposedly a simple but not so simple question?  “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV).  “What?  Did I hear Him right?” is what Ezekiel must have thought.  “Can these bones live?” the question just rolled through his mind dumbfounding him.  Awestruck, his response was as I believe mine would have been, “O Lord GOD, You know,” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV), while shrugging my shoulders all kinds of ways.  At that point I believe Ezekiel was starting to realize in a whole new way the magnitude of God.  Looking out over the valley and seeing the waste of what was once life and trying to imagine them alive, his response was to appeal to the sovereignty of God – “You know!”

God does know but he wants us to know that He knows.  Right?  It sounds like some teenage gibberish but God puts these questions out there to see where our belief lies.  To see if we really see Him as being in control of everything including those things that appear dead.

I don’t know personally how it must have looked but I can imagine the scene in my head.  Sitting on the edge of a cliff and looking down and then out to see nothing but human remains.  Sitting stock still in horror, I would have started pondering all the “what’s, who’s, why’s and how’s” this all came to pass.  What battle took place?  Who was involved?  Why did it have to come to this?  How is it that there were none left to bury the dead?  There, just a mass of unanswered questions covering a sea of death.

What would have been like?  The appearance of body upon body stacked and scattered throughout would have been too much for me.  It reminds me of the scene in The Lion King where a young Simba goes to the Elephant Graveyard.  Nothing existed there.  Just death and shadows; coldness and loneliness.  Nothing to cheer about, nothing to hope for if it were not for that question that came from the Lord.  “Can these bones live?”

Death in reverse is what God was stating.  Taking an impossible act of nature and reenacting the process on rewind.  If the question wasn’t enough, how about the command.  “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!'”(Ez. 37:5, NKJV).  Standing reverently but in utter stupefaction, Ezekiel knew that he was at a point of no return in his ministry.  God was drawing him into the process.  “I don’t know about this,” would have been what most were thinking as they did as He commanded.    “I’m still reeling from the sight and I am not sure I am quite ready for the process. “

But that’s the real question God was asking him.  Not if they can live but is he ready to be a part of the process.  Surely, by now Ezekiel had known the answer of what God can do, but was he sure of what God can do through him?  Are you sure of what God can do through you?

What would it have been like?  At the spoken command to hear before you see an unsettling sound.  A noise permeated the air.  Rattling overshadowed the quiet of the valley.  In a place that knew only demise and decay was now going to be re-identified as something miraculous.  The rattle was with purpose.  It meant things were moving into their proper place.  It meant brokenness was being made whole.  It was the start of a brand new life where there was none before.  This was incredible to not only witness but to be a part of!

After the re-attachment of limbs and other skeletal remains.  After heads rolled back to the top of their owners then the real stuff transpired.  It’s one thing for bones to find their host bodies and reattached themselves.  It’s quite another to witness those very bones, the nothingness that was left, begin to take on a new life.  Sinews and flesh began recover the bleached parched surfaces (Eww!).  All the while, Ezekiel just watches.  What would you do?  Like a train wreck, as horrible as it may seem you can’t tear your eyes away from it.  Under the ribs organs began to reform and the life supply of veins maneuvered their way throughout, spreading the possibility for more.  My personal opinion is that the flesh and sinews had to cover them first because all that underneath stuff was just too vomitrocious to witness – I’m just saying!

Did I say stupefaction?  Yes, I did because at this point my mind would have been utterly blown away by all that transpired thus far.  But God was not done.  He was truly reversing the life process.  The bodies were now formed and covered “but there was no breath in them,” (Ez. 37:8, NKJV).  God gave him a new command, ‘Prophesy to the breath . . . Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain that they may live,” (Ez. 37:9, NKJV).  Ezekiel had no problem doing as was commanded of him, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army,” (Ez. 37:10, NKJV).  Before they stood did they gasp at the feel of air entering their lungs once again?  When they stood, did they turn to each other recognizing the “what was” and processing the “what is now?”

What would their future look like now?  Or, is this just all a vision?

To see dead bones live in this fashion would have been an awesome and beautiful thing to see.  Think about it.  God took an impossible situation and did a complete 360.  It’s as if He had His finger on the hands of some big cosmic spiritual clock and purposefully began to rotate it backwards.  Spinning it and spinning it until all of death had to let go and life came to the forefront once again.  What would it have been like to witness this?

Don’t you know?  We may have not been bones but what remained of us of what the world stripped away was given a new command in the valley.  The valley, our lowest point of life, was shaken and rattled until it stood at the command of God.  Our lifelessness was renewed when His spirit breathed in us freshness untold.  Before He had a vision of us we were surrounded by spiritual death but then there arose potential out of nothingness.  Captured by grace and loved on by His mercy we received in us His gift of a second chance.

There’s a lot of things in that particular valley that would have left me unsettled but I only had to turn to the One who was commanding the change in me and see the love in His eyes for me.  I only had to look and believe as He did that there is something alive here, there is something that can be raised up for me.  We have been in that valley.  Vision or no, we have been to the place of impossibility just to see Him make it possible.

To see those bones rise to new life and live would have been amazingly awesome but to see what He has done in me is far better.  I don’t know what it would have been like there but I know what it is like here.  “Therefore we were buried with Him through  baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness if life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:5-6, NKJV).  Because of Christ I got a chance to experience life outside of the valley.  What about you?  God can do amazing things through you, too.  Get ready for the process to see dead bones live!