Are We Done Yet?

“Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me.”  – Psalm 70:1

We see these words many times in the book of Psalms.  David was in desolation when he wrote them, in hiding from wickedness and enemies, and this is a record of his faith through the struggles that he endured.  I don’t know about anyone else, but there are days when I, like David, am literally desperate for an end to the madness of this world.  It is overwhelming at times, the depravity that we constantly see and face.  The local news alone is enough to raise anxiety levels, not to mention the national and world news networks which often ignite the already smoldering embers of intolerance and anger.  It is easy to get caught up in the tornado, so-to-speak.  We get sucked into political arguments, debates about sexuality, and (of course) arguments drawn from our cultural and religious differences…and we face every single one of these controversies several times in JUST ONE DAY!  Much like a tornado, we get sucked in, thrown around and spat out in an entirely different place than we expected…and often with our thoughts and confidences obliterated.  It’s not very difficult to reach the point of saying, “Come Lord Jesus!” 

Here’s the thing though, none of this should take us by surprise.  Right?  We know that hard times are part of the plan.  The earth is groaning in labor.  A new day is being birthed. 

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24: 3-14)

All of which to say that there will many more days when we cry out for an end.  Just like a mother in labor, desperate to see the child she’s waited so long to meet, who is ready for an end to her suffering and discomfort, who (while in the emotional and physical throes of childbirth) will cry out for help and wonder when it will all be over, we too will become weary and frantic. 

But please, please, please, remember that from labor pains comes new life!  Our promise is eternal.

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3: 1-4)

So stand firm…in love.  Bear the labor pains with hope in knowing that a greater promise awaits.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as I see this world deteriorate, help me to remember Your promise.  With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I know that I can stand firm until the end.  I choose love, I choose righteousness, I choose YOU. 

“Nothing is Wasted”

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1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. 4 He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. (Isaiah 11: 1-4)

I like the idea of repurposing, recycling, and bringing new from old.  It’s why I have so many antiques, hand-me-downs, and thrifted items in my home.  I don’t look at old things as disposable…I see the beauty there, and the potential.  This is a part of me that I consider to be in the likeness of God.  He sees beyond what has been…what many would pass over and lay to rest…what is dry and withered…like an old stump.  Most people see a stump as something that needs to be completely removed…ground up and discarded.  But God…the Artisan and Creator of the universe…He reaches down and gently nudges a tenter shoot from the buried roots of that stump.  And it peeks out, green and new, as if to say, “This is not over yet!”  Maybe someone will come along and pluck that tiny sprout from the cracks of the stump, because unfortunately that happens sometimes, but it’s okay…because the roots are now teeming with life from the sun and the rain, and despite all efforts of destruction, new growth continues to force its way upward.  When God sees fit to breath life into what seems to be a lost cause, there is nothing that can sever His lifeline. 

Sometimes our families, and our lives, are like the line of David.  We go through stuff, and that stuff can become a disease to our tree…we get angry or hurt and we just lop off branches until there’s nothing left. Sometimes we recklessly go ahead and chop down the whole tree!  When a family unit, or a life, is destroyed by human actions…deemed useless and therefore discarded…we see it as finished…something to remember (or forget).  But where the roots of love and potential still lie dormant in the dirt, from it God is able to coax new life into the light. 

Your new day is coming.  When the first signs of forgiveness (of others, or even just yourself) begin to push through the cracks of your stump (whatever relationship or situation that may be), let them grow…nurture them…let God do His thing.  He sacrificed His own son so that we could and would have this promise of restoration and hope.

Everything that the prophecy of Isaiah promised that Christ would be, He was…and He is.  The Man of Sorrows, born into humanity exactly as we are, tempted in every way, fully human…yet still completely GOD to His core, who lived His life to serve God the Father as well as the people He would eventually walk headlong into misery and death for…to spare our souls…to conquer death by enduring it…bringing about a NEW DAY for the children of God, and with it our one and only hope.  On that day when He procured the ultimate victory, the earth did shake and tremble at His voice.  One breath, His last one taken in a mortal body, the breath that ushered in His death, is what destroyed the enemy.  He came to us, a tiny baby, a tender root of hope, and because of Him, nothing is wasted.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I want to give up on myself and others, remind me of the stump and the shoot.  Thank you for grace and for new life.  Amen.

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