Wrote this as a teenager, 15-17 years old probably, during my introvert days. Capitol-s “Sun” is a punny metaphor for the Son, i.e. Jesus Christ our Lord. In some ways, this almost advocates for a prayer closet/ war room years before it became popular, my favorite one then was outdoors. I always found it easier to concentrate on things like seeking the Lord in prayer outdoors, especially amongst trees. Anyway, hope this blesses you.
Tower of Refuge and Strength
There is much too haste in City life
No solace to be found, only strife’s dirge
Constantly and that of protest and lust all around
Society has forgotten the wisdom and the song in silence found
For she has cast off the Sun and built her own way
With a heavy and faint heart I ran from city strife
In search of the Sun, which not but dreams remembered
In the wooden clove I found my rest, my solace
No dirge here, my companion was but the song of silence
And reflected in the pool was the bright eye of the sun
I glanced up then, foolishly seeking the Sun’s own face
I was astounded by the brilliance of his glory
And all but blinded by his striking radiance
As the rainbow of his aura pierced with unknown peace
And filled me with such strength that I was unafraid
Many times when I am down I journey now to this quiet place
I eat of the gifts the Sun blesses within me
As I drink of the song found waiting in silence,
The joyful song spills forth from me, joining the solace
And I know, even with the ills of Society, I can remain free
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14
Sometimes we make lousy choices that lead to bad consequences and attribute the consequences of our actions (or inaction) to something God has sent upon us and willed for us rather than accepting responsibility for our own decisions and behaviors, repenting, and seeking grace to change our ways. And not just the “weak,” either; we can fancy ourselves “strong” and fall into this. I know I have, especially on the inaction side, and the Lord gently corrected me and graciously gave me the strength to act by faith on his promises and make changes I never could’ve made stick on my own.
Lately, on a certain social media website, I’m seeing signs of this attitude spreading in the Church regarding politics. To address this from strictly the spiritual side, the Lord is still on his throne, and working all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (i.e. Christians). A most comforting thought when too many in the electorate are being sucked in by a prideful, self-exalting fascist that God is bound to eventually lose patience with and cast down. As true as all this is, it is also true, as a nation, we need to humbly acknowledge our responsibility for our own wicked ways in prayer, turn from them, and seek God’s face before God will heal our land.
Let’s start by checking our egos, checking our pride, including our theological pride. We live in a democratic republic, not a monarchy or a theocracy; God didn’t handpick our candidates.If anything, we’ve let the media do that, and they’re not following God. The Lord has in his sovereignty allowed this, and God may well be turning us over to the gods America has cheated on King Jesus with. However, at the same time, we are reaping what we have sown, so let’s humble ourselves and examine ourselves honestly and prayerfully, seek God’s face, and turn from the wicked ways the Lord convicts us of. Let’s humbly intercede before the Lord and plead for forgiveness and mercy, that God might hear from Heaven and heal our land.
Lord, forgive our pride, forgive our laziness. We confess we have not always acted on your promises by faith. Help us to take responsibility for own choices, convict us of any wicked way you find in us, and strengthen us by your grace to turn from it and seek your face. We are nothing without you, going nowhere fast without you. Hear our cry. Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, on us. Heal our homes, heal our work, heal our land. We put our trust and our hope in you. We lift our hearts to you. Lead us and may we be truly open to be led by you and changed by your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” — Luke 19:10 ESV
Christ says this while passing through Jericho, on his way to Jerusalem for the Triumphal Entry that launched a week that ended with our Lord’s death on the cross for our sins. A crowd gathered, and a wee little man climbed a tree to see him. Yes, Jesus said this at the end of his response to the Good Proper Christians, er Jews, who grumbled at Jesus for going to a sinner’s house.
Tax collectors like Zacchaeus were despised as the worst of sinners, collaborators with Israel’s enemies with a reputation for earning their living by overcharging people and keeping the extra “tax.” I.E. they defrauded the people. Knowing this, inspired by Christ’s gracious invitation, in verse 8, Zacchaeus announced (at a banquet held in his home in Christ’s honor is implied) “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
“And Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”
This man, identified with Israel’s enemies, despised as a sinner hardened beyond redemption, repented when graciously showed kindness. Not when beat over the head with “you shall not steal,” etc. Not when we went out of our way to make his life harder. When the Lord graciously reached out to him, gave him a new hope. The holy spirit moved him to the act of repentance he already well knew. Why hadn’t he before? Before Christ came into his life, he likely had no hope of any way out of the life path he had chosen.
Interestingly, Christ follows this up with the parable of the Minas, a rather meaty piece. Context suggests it is a different topic raised by different concerns, but it does reaffirm that, while Christ came to save the lost, judgment day will not go well for Christ’s enemies if they continue to refuse to repent and continue to reject Christ’s reign over their lives–to walk in self-idolatry, the desire to be our own god, as it has been ever since the garden of Eden.
The fate awaiting those who don’t repent ought to inspire us, but we don’t know others’ hearts. The overflow from the mouth can be revealing, but people’s behavior can be misleading. We may not know if a soul is hardened against God and bent on being a self-defining, self-exalting determiner of what is true and right and wrong for themselves, following a dark road out of a hopeless despair of ever being able to change, or if they are being led astray by the world’s lies while actively seeking the reconciliation and peace with God, others, and ourselves that we know is truly found only in Christ.
Let’s give the lost the benefit of the doubt and graciously reach out. Let’s at least pray and be open to being asked to extend a gracious invitation to the lost on the Lord’s behalf.
Lord, open our hearts to the possibility of being used to reach your enemies. Open our eyes to opportunities to show kindness and mercy to the lost, and through this bring them hope and to show them the way into your light of truth gently and lovingly. Give us courage, wisdom, and the words that person needs to hear at that moment. Thank you for the work you are doing in our lives. Thank you for your mercy and kindness, the hope you bring. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Genesis 15:1-3 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless,” But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
Barren women actively trying to conceive often spend two weeks of every single menstrual cycle pregnant with only the hope of being with child. We love our Baby Hope and fight for that child with everything we’ve got within us. For many of us, month after month, for years on end, Aunt Flo then comes and “kills” the child we’d hoped we were carrying in our wombs. Our pain is one I hope you never know. We often have to take breaks, and some quietly throw in the towel, let our Baby Hope slowly die in our heart, too.
This is where I think Sarah/Sarai and her husband were when God came to him with such a bold, exceedingly great promise. More than a decade would pass after its giving before its fulfillment, and in that time they’d again struggle to keep the faith and to not give up on God doing it. While I’ve never sank to handling it on the Ishmael level of awful, like Sarah and her husband, I’ve tasted that sting of death, only for the Lord to come (in the spirit) and gently revive me, reminding me of his promises, and strengthening me to carry on.
God will bless us. I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but he will do it. In the meantime, we will seek to keep walking by faith.
That said, please never say “all in God’s time,” and the like to an infertile couple in response to their grief for never-were children. That attempt to comfort can come across as akin to telling a parent grieving the death of a child that did get to be born not to grieve because God perfectly timed their child’s death and they need to trust it was God’s perfect will for their child to die. (For those unaware of this, that is cruel and can sour weak believers on God.) To worsen the pain of that slap in the face for grieving for never-were children, infertile couples are also being offered no hope of a Heavenly reunion with the never-were babies infertility’s stolen.
Infertility is a disease, an effect of the fall, and no more God’s fault than it is God’s fault someone else is battling cancer. He does have the sovereign power to supernaturally override such effects of the fall in our lives. Sometimes God chooses instead to walk us through the brokenness of this world. Sometimes that is only for a season, a new season comes, and we do get our miracle.
Nonetheless, we need to grieve our losses; I learned that in another difficult season that had me on the verge of becoming an atheist. I prayed angry, heartbroken, etc. and gave God the broken pieces. He doesn’t always work things out the way we want, but he does always restore us and make something beautiful out of the broken pieces.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” — 1 Corinthians 15:55-57