I’ve been really weary for a while. I’ve not strayed from devotional times in the Bible, but I have had little energy to step beyond the basics of getting through each day.
But my devotional time this morning was particularly fulfilling, and I want to share that with you.
I first read in Isaiah, chapters 34-36, and was reminded that God is in control, of the just and the unjust.
I next read Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening for this morning, and I share that here:
The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron.2 Samuel 15:23
David passed that gloomy brook when flying with his mourning company from his traitor son. The man after God’s own heart was not exempt from trouble, nay, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord’s Anointed, and the Lord’s Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow’s gates the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads, wherefore then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us?
The KING of kings himself was not favoured with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are. What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us. In all our afflictions he was afflicted. The idea of strangeness in our trials must be banished at once and for ever, for he who is the Head of all saints, knows by experience the grief which we think so peculiar. All the citizens of Zion must be free of the Honourable Company of Mourners, of which the Prince Immanuel is Head and Captain.
Notwithstanding the abasement of David, he yet returned in triumph to his city, and David’s Lord arose victorious from the grave; let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation, though now for a season we have to pass by the noxious streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so shall you.
I next read Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost His Highest:
Put God First
Jesus did not commit Himself to them…for He knew what was in man. —John 2:24-25
Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.
Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).
A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. The rallying cry today is, “We must get to work! The heathen are dying without God. We must go and tell them about Him.” But we must first make sure that God’s “needs” and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, “…tarry…until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. Once God’s “needs” in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His “needs” elsewhere.
Put God’s Son First. “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).
God came as a baby, giving and entrusting Himself to me. He expects my personal life to be a “Bethlehem.” Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.
I also subscribe to a couple “Verse of the Day” apps, and here are those two verses:
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians, 15:57
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
Beth also shared with me the devotional Jesus Calling for May 31:
Joy Each Day
May 31 – “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young
The Peace that I give you transcends your intellect. When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see thoughts spinning round and round: going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. All the while, My Peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land.
Be still in My Presence, inviting Me to control your thoughts. Let My Light soak into your mind and heart, until you are aglow with My very Being. This is the most effective way to receive My Peace.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
—2 Thessalonians 3:16
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
It was kind of cool how everything this morning seemed to flow from one aspect of my devotional time to the next, but I was particularly struck by Spurgeon’s words, and here’s what I wrote in response to “Morning and Evening.”
I needed this today! Life has objectively been difficult since around the year 2000 (Yeah, I know, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.” But still…). My parents are both gone, my bio mom died, my only sister growing up is gone as well. I am the first “orphan” I know. Both of our beautiful daughters have turned from God. We love them with all of our being, but it is wrenching to see them in this place. I found my dream job after twenty years as a city cop, but within five years I was forced into a position of having to choose between my integrity and doing a boss’s will. I chose integrity and was fired for it. I’m currently working at a job that is less than optimal, finding no fulfillment in it, little satisfaction, and no “significance,” I find each day a trial. My boss is great, and my “big” boss is awesome, especially with this past year. I have really come to love and appreciate her, but the everyday aspects of my job are difficult. My relationship with my wife is, and has been great, and I discovered that our marriage was the only thing in life with which I was content. But Beth was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer last year, and we spent the entire year of 2017 fighting that horrid and unexpected disease. Much of the time I thought I was going to lose her; this whole “C-word adventure” has proven to be extremely difficult for a number of reasons. For one thing, being a cop for nearly four decades, I pretty much got accustomed early in my career to the idea that “today may be my last shift. Today I may not come home.” But it was never even on my radar that I might lose Beth. I understood that accidents can happen, we all die, but I never had to face Beth’s “imminent departure.” God was gracious, Beth is in remission and currently in a clinical trial to push back any re-occurrence, but I have been shaken to my core. Our younger daughter has been terrific, but our elder daughter has broken all contact with us, even in the midst of this.
I am pretty much an introvert, and I find I just want to hole up in my home and have no contact with people at all.
Finally, I have recently started my journey with Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program with emphasis on Jesus. I have thrown away an addictive behavior that has plagued me for some time, so I don’t even have the sinful, guilt-ridden “pleasure” of turning to that. It takes time to re-wire one’s brain. It can be done, it is being done in me, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
So I have nothing; I AM nothing. Except for two words: “But God…”
My heroes of the Bible have, for some time, been Moses, Abraham, Joseph. All of them spent years, decades, in difficult circumstances before God used them, before it became apparent to them what God had in mind. How often, I wonder, did they cry out to God in their pain and humiliation.
Thinking about this once, I thought, “but I’m not Abraham! I’m not Joseph.” And I felt/heard/understood that God answered me and said, “No, you’re not. And yes you are.” They, too, had no clue as to God’s purpose when going through their trials, but “wholly leaned on (the promised Messiah’s) name.” And that’s my job right now. I want to understand. I want to be in a “good” place. But God is directing me otherwise. “But God…”
One time, long ago, I sincerely prayed, “God, make me like Jesus.” Looking back, I can almost hear God chuckling, and saying to me, “Ok, buckle up, son, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” I have said (mostly) in jest that I should have prayed, “Leave me the frick alone!”
But here we are.
I’m tired, I’m weary. I don’t understand, I am impatient, I am spent.
And all I have is, “But God…”
This is the Serenity Prayer in its entirety as written by Reinhold Niebuhr. Good prayer!
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is;
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”