Friday, December 5, 2014

A Good Start

I start most every morning with my "quiet time." Since God saved me from my sinful self way back when I was 9 years old - since the blood of Jesus did work in my life - I've known time alone with God sometime during a day was critical. For me, it's first thing in the morning. Because I want to know and love Him more; because I want to "to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12); because I want to love people more and live well the few short years I have on this earth;  the alarm goes off a little early, and I start my day with God. I read the Bible and I pray. I may have a devotional book handy and Bible websites up and I go back and forth between all those resources.

No two mornings are exactly the same because, well, because, I'm a person and God's a person and we are communicating and communication isn't rote but real and organic. And yesterday morning, it was as real and organic as it gets. He met me in such a delightful way, and I want to share it here.

Because I'm attending a Bible Study Fellowship class, I have a daily reading schedule. Yesterday, it happened to be the day assigned to read the notes provided by BSF on a section we had just studied about the life of Moses. I jumped right into them with barely a "Help me understand this, Lord." However, not far into it,  I felt a check in my spirit. Time with God isn't something to check off a list, but a person to be with. So I stopped and picked up a small devotional book recently given to me by a friend. It's title is His Name Shall Be Called, and it's a Christmas inspirational book that focuses on the names of Jesus.
The fact that it's a beautiful book is a bonus:)

The focus I read was from Jeremiah 50:6

Now for full disclosure.

I read that and causally thought that was nice - and true. Yes, Jesus is our resting place. I even closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to try to think about it all a bit more. The thoughts expressed in what I just read were good, but they hadn't sent me soaring to new spiritual heights. But at least I had attempted a more relational moment. I didn't know it then, but God was going to use this attempt later. He's good at doing that kind of thing.

I went back to my BSF notes, which I love reading, by the way. They are not a chore at all. So with highlighter in hand and cup of coffee nearby, I began.

I came across a discussion of different levels of knowing someone.

While reading this, I thought of someone I know - one of my heroes in the faith, Elisabeth Elliot. I've only met her briefly at a couple of conferences, but I feel like I know her because I've read almost everything she's written. Because she's elderly (she'll be 88 on Dec 21st) and not in the best of health (and because I'm easily distracted sometimes), I decided to quickly check her website to see how she was doing. I stayed there long enough to see she is still being beautifully cared for by her loved ones and to thank God for her many years of speaking to me through her books and lectures.

Elisabeth check done, it was back to the notes.

It was in this next section of note reading, that I marveled at the tender care of God - the One who knows me best and still loves me most. His taking of my feeblest attempts at devotion and my note reading and my quick website check and then more note reading and weaving them all together to teach me about himself is such a gift from His great and mighty heart. At the early hour of 6:30 a.m., my tired face broke into a ready smile when I read the following:

The reference in those words to the "five young missionaries" refers to Elisabeth Elliot's first husband, Jim, and the 4 other men he worked with. I know this story well. Elisabeth told it in her book Through Gates of Splendor, and it found its way to the big screen in End of the Spear and Beyond the Gates of Splendor.

So, in my notes on The Life of Moses, God brings me back to Elisabeth Elliot and her story and strong testimony just a few minutes after I "checked" on her. If that wasn't enough, God topped it off with the words to a hymn written way back in 1895. Words echoing - reinforcing -  the concept that I had tried to grasp during my devotional time.

Jesus is my resting place.

There it was, printed in black and white. Five missionary men sang that song and rested in those facts as they faced a very uncertain future as far as this life was concerned.

We rest on Thee  -  our shield and our defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.

I was blown away at this point. I wouldn't let my Lou walk out the door until I told him about it. I'm still marveling at it. It wasn't a happy coincidence. It was God meeting me right where I was. 

He's still speaking to me through these truths. He's reminded me in the day since reading all this, that the living of life on this earth - our future - is uncertain. We don't know it. We don't know the joys ahead. We don't know the sadness ahead. 

But we know the One who does. And we can rest on Him and His sure care and love for His redeemed.

As quiet times go, this one was slightly on the dramatic side. But dramatic or not, it's still a time totally worth getting up for.  Meeting with the God of the universe always is.  It's a good start to a day. 

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