Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘Psalm 139’

The Heart of the Matter

bluebirds heart of the matter

Photo Credit: Elton Harding

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.   Romans 2: 29 NIV

My thoughts turn inward at Christmastime. That may sound strange since this time of year is full of outward events: decorating, shopping, food preparation and party hosting.

My question is this: Does my inner life match my outward activity?

God sees deep within us. I think He has laser vision. What does He see when He looks at my heart?

Thankfully, He doesn’t just coldly diagnosis the heart condition; He possesses the power (and the desire) to clean, stretch, and to fill our hearts so that we are genuinely the same inside and out.

Two Christmas story favorites, A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, focus on the heart. Hear the profound epilogues of Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss:

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.” (A Christmas Carol )

And what happened then…?

Well…in Who-ville they say

That the Grinch’s small heart

Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

And he…

HE HIMSELF…!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

(How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

What is happening in our hearts this Christmas season? It matters the most to God. May we ask the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual heart therapy. He knows exactly what we need so that our hearts will truly laugh.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23, 24 NIV

 

Oh Foolish Me and the Kind Protection of Almighty God

Photo Credit:  Sam Javanrouh  Florence, Italy

Photo Credit: Sam Javanrouh, Florence, Italy

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

I am the child of hippies – of 1970s vintage – and I grew up without much supervision and structure during those tumultuous years, which is not the best environment for a child. One of the positive results, however, was how independent I became, doing things for myself, and on my own, with great courage and “chutzpah”.

Is it any wonder that I would adore the 139th psalm? It speaks of the loving care of a personal God who knows where I am and what I am doing, and guides me and holds me fast.

My parents loved me, though, and one of the special gifts my father gave me was money for trip to Europe after I graduated from college. I cherish this gift more now, but at the time, too, I was ecstatic over the opportunity to travel for eight weeks with a Eurail pass, a backpack, and money for cheese and bread and hostels.

They say Europe is small, but it’s actually dense – extremely varied with its cultures, art, history, languages, and geography, and after seven weeks, I hadn’t seen it all.

Not even close.

Particularly, I longed to visit Italy and see the canals of Venice, Michaelangelo’s David, and St. Peter’s Basilica.   My two traveling buddies had a month more than I (the lucky ducks) and they were content to stay in Austria to explore more of the countryside. I burned to make my last nine days count and see the wonders of Italy.

So I left on my own.

On my own.

At age 20.

(I am a girl by the way.)

What was I thinking? No, I wasn’t thinking, I was impulsively doing.   And the God of the universe protected me – even when I was foolish.

How about that?

I was stalked, pinched, and creeped out, but not harmed. And then, as I stood in line on the ancient cobbled sidewalk to enter the Florentine art museum that housed Michaelangelo’s exquisite sculpture, I struck up a conversation with a young woman with a shoulder bag decorated with a Canadian maple leaf. She was Spanish and traveling with her brother and sister from Madrid down through Italy in their tiny citroen.   And they invited me to go with them. I spent the rest of my precious travel days under the cheerful protection of three Spaniards, eating their food, traveling safely (though squished), in their car and sleeping at night in their tent (on the far side – away from the brother).

What a loving God to protect me when I had “gone rogue”.  What makes him love us so much, not only when we “behave”, but when we are “off the rails” in some way?

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11, 12

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