About 30 years ago I made a grandfather’s clock out of walnut wood. I bought a solid brass clock movement and installed it. It had the swinging pendulum that kept the clock regulated, and the three brass weights that operated the clock and the chimes. That movement lasted about 15 years until it no longer kept accurate time. I replaced it with another brass movement that worked for about ten years or so. Not wanting the expense of a third, I replaced it with an electronic clock movement. It continues to keep perfect time, chimes electronically on the quarter hour and hour, doesn’t need the weekly winding, but only a battery replacement about once a year. But something is missing. The chimes sound good but not the same as the striking bell. The brass weights are still there, but only as decoration, no longer moving or indicating the day of the week by their fall. The pendulum still moves, but has no real function. We have efficiency, but no longer the beauty that was once there. The advances in our modern world are important. I don’t mean to give them all up, but we do need to take care in considering what we may lose in the change. Sometimes the less efficient, the slower, the more expensive gives us a beauty, a bit of time to think, a deeper personal satisfaction, than provided by our modern means. And maybe even a deeper way to see our Lord’s hand in the midst of life.
This is election season in the U.S., mid-terms for national offices, and many state and local offices as well. In our county there are campaign signs everywhere. People are seeking various positions and declaring that they are the best candidate. In the town where I grew up there was a business man who had made money in construction and now wanted a public office. It didn’t seem to matter what office it was he had his name in. He marched in every Fourth of July parade, and shook every hand possible. Fortunately, the people never saw fit to elect him for anything, but that never slowed him down. Our elections have become so much centered in self promotion, amounts of money raised, and convincing people that they alone can give them the good things they want. It seems to me that the founders of our republic desired leaders based on their character and wisdom that had been displayed in trials. In Romans 5 Paul speaks of those whose foundation is in faith in Christ, and who have displayed perseverance in trial resulting in a proven character. In other words, God’s training in the individuals life. Maybe we should look for more of these characteristics before listening to all the campaign promises.
It is interesting sitting in a crowded airport or other location where lots of people are passing by. They come in such a variety, white, black Asian, middle eastern, tall, short, well dressed, sloppy, groomed hair and not so groomed, and on and on. We tend to look at people and make snap judgments about whether we would be comfortable talking with them or would rather avoid them. Maybe I should be honest and say I have made such snap judgments. The last time I was in such a crowd the Lord caught me up short, really with a mild rebuke. The thought came to mind, “These are all Mine, and I love each one of them. There is something a lot deeper in them than you see on the outside.” Well, I knew that! I preach it often enough. It is just that in my flesh, on a personal encounter, I’d rather people be of “my kind”. Maybe that rebuke needed to be not so mild! At any rate, I did take it to heart, and began to look at people differently. Not that I would ever be unkind to anyone, but I think my heart was changed a bit. I’m looking beyond the outside trapping with a desire and prayer that the love of God would touch each heart, and if I can be of some help in that, I will. It really does take a while for the Lord to get some lessons through my stubbornness.
We have a lot of squirrels around our neighborhood. The Lord has built into them instincts that guide their behavior. Squirrels do what squirrels are supposed to do. It is not so with us. When God breathed into man the breath of life He gave them a spirit making them different from all others of the animal kingdom. Our spirit can only be satisfied when it is in communion with God’s Spirit. That makes us different and higher than all other created beings. It also gives us the responsibility of seeking God, of desiring to grow closer to this One who created us. Though, as Paul said “he is not far from any of us.”(Acts 17:27) We seek to do, to acquire, to achieve all kinds of other earthly things. Like the squirrels we often find ourselves running from here to their, when what is truly satisfying is near at hand in quietness, trust, and a growing life in Jesus Christ.
Paul writing to the Roman church says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,… (Romans 8:16-17) We certainly like that statement of assurance that in Christ Jesus we are children of God. But the three dots following “Co-heirs with Christ” mean that Paul’s statement doesn’t end there. He follows that by saying “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” That part we don’t like very much. Our suffering adds nothing to our salvation. That is already complete in Christ, but it does recognize that we are in a sinful world and have a responsibility of helping to share the burdens this world places on others. Christ’s command was to love one another as He has loved us. Loving as He loved is painful at times. We are not in this life just to get everything we can and have the easiest life possible. As Christians we are called to walk beside those who are hurting, supporting them as best God give us the grace to do.
I’m learning a lot of lessons again from our three year old grandson. After all it has been quite a while since our five were that age and running around the house. This young one has a lot of energy and is always on the go. Which sometimes makes it hard to get his attention when you want him to do something. Our daughter has started telling him to “Stop, look at my eyes. Do you hear my words?” It takes a few tries, but usually works. It strikes me that our Lord says the same thing to us at times. We fret or worry. We get busy and caught up in a project. We are intent on doing this or that. Just like an active three year old. The problem is that we may be going in a wrong direction and can’t hear God’s correction. “Stop, look into the eyes of my heart, hear my words of the good way I have for you.” The picture comes to mind of “Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”(Luke 10:39) Our little grandson will grow and become more attentive, but it would be helpful if we were all to learn his lesson, slow down, look, and listen.
When we send an e-mail we can add an attachment. It is usually something that is interesting or helpful. It’s easy to do. A few clicks of the mouse and a document or a picture is added to the e-mail. Our problems in life come when we treat God as an attachment. Many see God as interesting or helpful in certain situations, but otherwise off to the side and relatively unimportant to the task of getting along in life. But our God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ, must not be treated that way. Scripture, both Old and New Testaments picture man’s relationship with God as that of the bride to the bridegroom. No bridegroom, no spouse, ever wants to be treated as an attachment. Our God calls us to be His bride. He knows us deeply, and has declared that He will never leave of forsake us. Our God cares about every situation, every choice, every action of life – of our lives, as one spouse cares for another. He will not be just an attachment. The more we understand God in the depth of the relationship He calls us to, the more we want to be a part of Him, and have Him a part of all we are and all we do.
There is an article on the internet this morning about a gender neutral kindergarten in Island. Boys are taught traditional girl things, and girls taught traditional boy things. Everything they play with is gender neutral. It is very true that we have messed up many things dealing with human gender and its roles. The answer is not in denying it or trying to get rid of it, but going back to God’s Word and seeking to understand the gift God gave us in being male and female. In God’s order both are equally valuable. Both are necessary and complementary. Each needs the gifts and help of the other to be complete. And even further both are created in the image of God, and both are necessary to have some understanding of the nature of God, Himself. We put aside all thinking of greater or lesser, stronger or weaker, giving thanks to God for His wisdom and beauty in our creation, and use our unique gifts to His glory.
For time saving devices they sure take up a lot of time. I was on the computer. I had a phone call on the land line, and was handling a text message at the same time. Which takes priority? Which do I do first? True, I’m not going to give up any of the devices, but juggling one’s life around them and the other demands of life can be a challenge. Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”(John 14:27) Sometimes we wonder where is that peace? But it really is there. There is a Bible song we often sing called “Jesus is the rock of my salvation”. A simple song but a real truth. Jesus is the rock, our solid rock, in the midst of life. Things in life are not likely to get any less complicated, but we do have a solid rock on which to hold. Jesus is our peace.
At the beginning of Revelation chapter two the Lord commended the church of Ephesus for a number of things, but said that He had one things against them, they had “forsaken their first love”, or “the love they had at first”. This didn’t mean that they weren’t holding to the true faith, or weren’t caring for people. They were doing both. What had grown dull was their pure love for Jesus, and their desire to know Him deeply and have Him physically present with them. Above all of our right doctrines and sincere loving service to others is our desire to know and be with our Lord. Jesus is our Bridegroom. Our only natural and fulfilling place is with Him. As time had gone on in the first Christian century and Jesus had not returned the longing for Him had grown dull. I’m afraid it has also with many of us. We continue to teach, share His truth, and serve in His name as God gives us the strength and grace to do, but our desire, our longing, is for His presence alone. All else flows from this.