DayBreaks for 4/30/20 – The Truth About an Eclipse

Total solar eclipse to be visible in Central Texas in 2024

DayBreaks for 4/30/20: The Truth About an Eclipse

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2010:

I’m sure that you’ve seen an eclipse of the moon.  Probably of the sun, too.  It is interesting the way that we talk about a solar eclipse.  We often refer to it as the sun being darkened.  Of course, in reality the sun isn’t darkened at all, is it?  It only seems like it has been darkened because the moon has come between the earth and the sun thus blocking out some of the light rays from the sun and making it appear as if much of the sun’s blazing inferno has been extinguished.

I remember a fairly major eclipse of the sun a few years back.  It took place while I was at work early in the afternoon in the summer time.  While it didn’t get dark, the light certainly was different – rather eerie in fact.  It didn’t have the same intensity and it was darker and cooler.  It was very, very strange.

The prophet Joel spoke of a time when the sun and moon would be darkened in Joel 3:15-16 – The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.  But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.  In this passage, Joel describes a time of judgment – it will be a trying time for the earth and creation.  But rather than leaving His people in fear, God tells them that He will be a refuge for them.

How does this relate to us today?  We are prone to times of darkness, aren’t we?  I have NEVER met anyone who didn’t have to deal with fear, discouragement, disappointment, failure and the darkness of the pit of sin.  It is simply part of the human condition.  And when times get bad, really bad, what is our first reaction?  We wonder what has happened to God – why He hasn’t “fixed things”.  We begin to wonder (probably not consciously for we would be afraid to mouth the words out loud) if God has lost His power or His capacity to care and be moved by the plight of mere humans.  He seems distant, cold.  And we assume that “God must not love me any more.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.  We make the false assumption that the God who has demonstrated His love to us before has changed.  That His love no longer shines fully for us.  Why?  Because the world has grown cold and dark.  But we need to remember the truth about eclipses: the sun hasn’t change.  The only thing that has happened is that something has come between us and the sun, blocking it’s light and warmth.  Many times (not always, but usually) when life grows dark, we assume the Son has changed.  He hasn’t.  He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He CANNOT change – God is immutable (a theological term meaning He can’t change).  So when your world next seems dark and cold, think about the eclipse.  Look to see if there is something that has come between you and the Son.  If so, MOVE!  Get back into his Light once again and let it dispel the darkness. 

God’s love for you doesn’t change.  It burns brightly all the time – even when it seems to be dark.  If you are feeling abandoned, like your prayers aren’t reaching Him and His love isn’t reaching you, my guess is that you either haven’t been looking at things right or there is something that has come between you and Him.  Don’t let it stay that way.  The Light is much better than the darkness!

PRAYER: Fill our lives with the fire or the Light this day and encourage us in our present darkness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #24 – The Last Enemy

An Unearthly Child — The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death…

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #24 – The Last Enemy

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, “Song for Athene” by Sir John Tavener. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 26

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51–54

Meditation 24. 3,094,829 confirmed cases, 215,461 deaths globally.

In the days preceding my grandfather’s death, he was wholly unresponsive. A heart attack and a belated resuscitation had left his brain without oxygen for an extended time. Though we were told he was no longer really there, we brought him home and the family kept watch by his bedside. The silence was leavened with hymns and prayers.

Death, for my grandfather, did not come like a violent plunge. It was more like his soul was water on the shore and it slowly receded into the sand. The beating of his heart, the pulsing of his blood, the rise and fall of his chest all grew gentler until they were almost imperceptible.

Then, in the last possible moment, his eyes opened. His arms rose off the bed and extended toward the ceiling, toward the skies, toward the heavens. Stunned, the family whispered encouragement. “It’s okay to go,” they said. His arms fell. And he was gone.

Mortality is much on our minds these days. Here in the United States, we have surpassed a million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. It began on the far side of the planet and has left a ruin of death and devastation wherever it has gone. More Americans have died from the disease than from the entire Vietnam War.

Grandfathers and grandmothers. Brothers and sisters. Parents and children and grandchildren. Friends and colleagues. Countless Americans are grieving their loss, and countless more are grieving overseas. How many will lose people they love before the virus is defeated?

When we lose a loved one, our souls strain against the veil. We come to the end of ourselves and our powers to see. We may wonder whether we will ever really see them again. How confident are we, really, that we will find one another again on the far side of the veil?

We do not, if we are honest with ourselves, really know what happens to the souls of the dead. Not, at least, in the same sense we know the names of our children or the number of rooms in our home. But that does not mean we cannot be confident. Trust can be stronger than knowledge when it is rooted in the being of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

Intel Is Building the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer

DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we suggest “Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)” from the film Sunlight. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.’” – Exodus 35:30–35

Meditation 23. 3,029,452 confirmed cases, 210,374 deaths globally.

Most of the summers during my childhood in California included backpacking in Yosemite National Park with my family or with the men from my church. We found ourselves at the feet of majestic waterfalls, on peaks in Tuolumne Meadows that stole our breath, or atop Half Dome or El Capitan when shooting stars were falling from the sky. Our souls were transported and we were moved to magnify God.

We tend to think differently of the artifacts of technology. We do not hold up our mobile phones, gaze at a supercomputer, or contemplate a PET scanner and find ourselves moved to sing praises.

In this pandemic, when so much of our experience of the world is mediated through technology, perhaps we need to shift our mindset. Many of the same technologies we cursed months ago for driving us apart we now bless for holding us together. Families keep close through social media and mobile apps. Schools convene over e-learning platforms. Small-group Bible studies pray and praise over Zoom. The church that streams together stays together.

There are reasons for caution when it comes to the uses of technology. The glowing screen can so captivate our attention that we have little left for matters of the soul. The constant consumption of entertainment can dull the deeper senses and atrophy the musculature of the spirit. Technologies can serve in so many ways for trafficking sin or delivering death or impoverishing our years of the full height and depth of life.

And yet, technology is a tool, and God himself gave us the gifts to devise it. The same technology that delivers depravity can also carry the gospel. The technology that lays cities to waste also empowers the world. The technology that broadcasts hatred and ignorance can also encourage love and coordinate its actions. The church has made use of countless technologies to spread the word of God, to heal the sick, and to serve the poor. Should we not give thanks for these things?

Monastic practices filled the lives of monks and nuns with habitual reminders of the lordship and love of God. The cross above the doorway. The ringing of the bell in the chapel. The daily offices serve many times a day as a sort of rhythmic remembrance to practice the presence of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: If our hours are to be filled with these technologies, O Lord, let them carry our thoughts toward you. Let us thank you now for breathing intelligence and ingenuity into your children, giving them dreams and visions and talents, so we might use these technologies to maintain our fellowship and continue the work you give us to do. And when at last we have tests and treatments and vaccines, may we thank not only the technologists behind them but the Creator behind the technologists who filled them with such immaculate skill. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

Romantic dinner for two - prepared by you! - Mariposa Farms

DayBreaks for 4/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic from Christianity Today. Today’s installment comes from Daniel Harrell, editor in chief. For our musical pairing, we introduce you to Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel and her compilation of joy from fellow fiddlers worldwide, “Pure Dead Brilliant Livestream Finale.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thess. 4:13–14

Meditation 22. 2,761,121 confirmed cases, 193,671 deaths globally.

When you’ve lost someone you love, the grief books say to make plans for holidays and birthdays and other important dates. Be ready to be overwhelmed by emotion and memories and the throbbing pain of loss.

When it came to my first wedding anniversary after my beloved wife, Dawn, died of pancreas cancer, I wanted to mark it well. Dawn and I differed on how to do this when she was alive. I was always a “celebrate the actual date” person while she was more of a proximity celebrator: Wait for the weekend and the babysitter to do it right. At the same time, right did not necessarily mean extravagant. Dawn was both Scottish and the daughter of missionaries. Doing it right usually included doing it cheap. Not me. I liked to splurge. Fancy dinner out. A show, a trip, something new, flowers and earrings, rent a convertible, dress up, make it memorable.

Dawn was usually game and always a good sport—but deep down she longed for more than any singular moment would provide. She craved continuity, integration, connection, emotion, and internality. As I read through her journals after she died, I saw she wrote and wrote about her passions and core loves, her spiritual crests and crashes—but not one single sentence about our “memorable moments,” no mention of an anniversary, birthday, or holiday. The deeper places were where the significance lay.

I remember a sermon on the Israelites crossing the Jordan in the Book of Joshua—a moment in time with potential for either transformation or tragedy. Bewildering is how much the Promised Land on the other side of the river can look just like the desert side left behind. (This is true, I’ve seen it while in Israel. It’s desert on both sides of the Jordan.) The sermon went on about our need to move forward despite the lure to turn and go back. With death and loss, there is no going back, no matter how much you’d give for just one minute more of the way life was.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.” In contrast to dreams and ideals, Kierkegaard (as an existentialist) emphasized existence: What is real and painful is more important than any ideal.

Though disposed toward despair, Kierkegaard nevertheless saw life’s hard reality as an invitation to faith. Not faith in the positive thinking or even the doctrinally coherent, but faith as that passionate commitment to Christ in the face of uncertainty, a risk of belief that demands loss of self for love’s sake. True love aims at the actual people in your life, not imaginary conceptualizations of how you believe or might wish these people should be. True love earnestly absorbs disappointments and overcomes faults as Christ has done in his love for us.

This requires a constant discipline of forgiveness. My wife wrote, “Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the foot of the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right.” … (Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway through the Sea #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we return to Ezio Bosso for “Bitter and Sweet.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20–22

Meditation 21. 2,682,225 confirmed cases, 187,330 deaths globally.

A friend and I had arrived at the monastery in upstate New York as the sun was setting over the fields and into the rustling woods. We joined the brothers for their evening meal. A little more than five years had passed since I had broken my neck in a gymnastics accident. I was still learning how to live with chronic pain.

“Don’t say that God gave you pain,” one of the monks advised over dinner that night. “Say that God can bring something good out of it.”

I thanked him for his thoughts, but I wrestled with those words for the length of my stay. In fact, those words have led me over the decades since to ask countless questions into the dark.

Part of me wanted to agree. God doesn’t make beautiful things broken. He makes broken things beautiful. God is not the beginning of suffering but its end. We have filled the world with affliction and we stumble into it ourselves; God did not make that path, but he carves a path through suffering and from suffering into embrace with him.

Another part of me differed. Does not Job ascribe both his blessings and his sufferings to the hand of God? Of course, readers of the Book of Job are privy to the heavenly deliberations preceding the calamity that falls upon his head. We know the question of causation is more complicated, and perhaps we shouldn’t build our theology around the outcry of a broken man. But there’s something bracing in Job’s directness and courage. The Lord gives. The Lord takes. He charged God with doing. He just didn’t charge God with wrongdoing.

Also, perhaps it was wrong of me, but I wanted my pain to come from God. Then it would not merely be that a purpose could be extracted from the situation. It would be that it had a purpose in the first place. In an odd way, my thorn in the flesh had become precious to me. I wanted it to be the same all-loving God who set the stars in their places who also, at just the right time, in just the right way, set my thorn in its place, too…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: As we walk through a season of suffering, O Lord, we thank you for the example of Job. You love the seekers, the askers of questions, the men and women who stand before the whirlwind and press for answers. We know there is truth in the proposition that you do not will these sufferings, but they flow from sin and from a world broken by it. Yet we also know there is truth in the opposite. Sufferings arise in the order you ordain, the world you sustain. You willed all of time and space before it came to be.

Help us, O Lord, like Job, to sit down and mourn and lament. Help us not to shy away from seeing your hand at work in this moment. Help us to make peace with the thorns in our flesh, to weep over them, to learn from them, and always to praise your name whatever may come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/23/20: Killed by Our Own Creation

BIG bone - Picture of Dinosaur National Monument - Tripadvisor

DayBreaks for 4/23/20: Killed By Our Own Creation

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2010:

A minister recently shared a parable as part of a sermon. I liked it and wanted to share it with you:

Four brothers in Africa one day were out wandering across the plains. As they did, they began to talk and one brother claimed that he could take a bare bone and attach flesh to it. The second brother said he could attach skin to the flesh. The third brother declared that he could give four working legs to the creature. The last brother proclaimed that he could then give life to the animal.

In order to prove their capabilities to each other, they proceeded to search for a bleached bone, and sure enough, they soon found one. The first brother picked up the bone and flesh appeared. The second brother touched it and skin appeared to cover the flesh. Not to be outdone, the third brother fashioned legs and the final brother brought it to life. As it turned out, the bone they had found belonged to a lion. The lion, upon being brought to life, leapt on the brothers and killed them all.

The point of the parable is simply this: we have the capacity to create what can devour us. What do I mean? God has “gifted” us with free choice. We can choose to create good things with what God has given us, or we can create what will ultimately kill us. We can choose to keep our marriages pure, or we can build a web of deceit that will rise up and kill us and those we love. We can choose to be truthful and honest or we can create a web of lies and falsehood that will come to life and tear down our reputation and destroy our witness.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13a – If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.

You are creating something with every decision, with every action. Is it something that will be a blessing or will it devour you? You may think that some sinful thing you are building can be hidden, but listen to these words from Job 28:11 – He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.

PRAYER: Help us through our choices to choose what is good, pure and holy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple

 

DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #20 – The God of Small Things

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DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #20 – The God of Small Things

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, try Anastasiya Petryshak’s performance of Schubert’s Ave Maria.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’ – Zechariah 4:8–10

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. … See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is throw into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? – Matthew 6:25–26, 28–30

Meditation 20. 2,544,769 confirmed cases, 175,621 deaths globally.

It was midnight when I made my way into the center of the Old City of Jerusalem. The clouds were low and impenetrable. Golden light flooded the Western Wall Plaza, which was filled with Jews in all manner of dress chanting and singing in lament. It was a day of mourning, written into the Jewish calendar. Surrounded by the intensity of their cries and weeping, beneath the mount where the temple and the Holy of Holies once stood, it felt as though I stood at the beating heart of the universe.

I wonder how it felt to the Israelites when they returned from their exile and found their city and their temple in ruins. When they began to rebuild, when they set the foundation, it must have seemed so paltry and miniscule compared to the temple that was remembered in the collective consciousness of their people. Some were glad to see a beginning made, but others groaned that the beginning was too modest. Do not “despise the day of small things,” God tells the prophet Zechariah. Unless you place the first stone, you cannot place the last.

The prophet heard right. Zerubbabel restored the temple. It stood for nearly six centuries, expanded by the Hasmoneans and most famously by Herod the Great. By the time Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount in the hills over the Sea of Galilee, it was one of the most renowned structures in the entire world.

Do not be anxious over your food or over your clothing, Jesus taught upon that hillside. God cares about these things for you. He cares about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. How much more will he care about your needs, even those that seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme?

Two thousand years later, we may find ourselves wondering whether God still cares for the flowers and the birds…(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, to exercise that particular expression of faith of believing you care about even the most minute matters. They matter to you when they matter to us.  Help us also to have faith that even the small things can become great things in time. Even the most monumental works are modest at first. May we find those small beginnings now, where we can build stone upon stone until we have constructed something that will endure to your glory for generations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Until then, O Lord, may our season of solitude bear fruit in the lives of those we love, even those we cannot be with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/21/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #19 – A Time to Refrain from Embracing

5 Famous Brands Twist Up Their Logos To Encourage Social Distancing

DayBreaks for 4/21/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #19 – A Time to Refrain from Embraching

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, try the theme from The Mission by Ennio Morricone. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1–8

Meditation 19. 2,224,426 confirmed cases, 153,177 deaths globally.

Even those among us whose souls breathe in solitude find ourselves pining in this season of pandemic for the simple graces of human connection. We live in “a time to refrain from embracing.” When will it be “a time to embrace” again?

Some of us are sick and quarantined from the rest of the world. The air around us grows heavy with silence, and the door to our room or apartment or home has become the horizon of the world we inhabit. Others of us are enclosed with family or friends but cut off from our communities. It is painful. We ache to be together.

One of the more profound truths of the Christian theological tradition is that community is intrinsic to the God in whose image we are created. The doctrine of the Trinity is not an accommodation to our lesser intelligence. It is essential to the nature of God from all eternity. God in his fullness is irreducibly relational, and we image him together more fully than apart(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Until then, O Lord, may our season of solitude bear fruit in the lives of those we love, even those we cannot be with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/20/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #18 – The First Gift Ever Given

What Gifts Are You Giving This Year? – Doug Sterbenz

DayBreaks for 4/20/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #18 – The First Gift Ever Given

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, listen to Peter Gregson’s recomposition of the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” -Genesis 1:1

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Meditation 18. 2,127,873 confirmed cases, 141,454 deaths globally.

Christian doctrine refers to the creative activity out of which God brought forth the cosmos as creatio ex nihilo. The universe we inhabit has not existed forever, in other words, nor was it refashioned from preexisting matter. It was created “out of nothing” (ex nihilo) through the intention and the will, the intelligence and the love of God.

One cannot be a Christian very long without hearing the classic Latin phrase. A lesser-known phrase from the theological canon is preservatio ex nihilo. God’s will is not only creative but preservative. He both brings and sustains all things in being. The moment God no longer wills for all things to exist, they will not.

The insight is fundamentally the same, and the logic is compelling. God is the only necessary being, the only one who contains the principle of his existence within himself. All other things are contingent upon his will.

The biblical narrative begins with the beginning of the temporal order we inhabit. It does not fold back the curtain of time and show us any deliberation within the community of the Trinity or within the throne room of heaven before God chose to create the universe. What it does make evident is that God is perfect and sufficient unto himself. He was not compelled to create by any imperfection or need. It also makes clear that we serve a God who is defined by love and grace. It is “from him and through him and for him” that all things were made (Rom. 11:36).

When I was a gymnast, I built up enormous callouses on my hands until I could scarcely feel the high bar in my grip. When those callouses were ripped away, suddenly the raw skin felt every grain of the bar. Many of us feel that way now. The layers of distraction and numb routine have been ripped away, and the raw skin of our souls feels the nearness of death more keenly than ever.

Confronting the possibility of our death, however, brings a startling appreciation for the fact of our life. That we need not exist illuminates the wonder we do exist.

It is a part of God’s unchanging nature since before the beginning of time that he is a giver of good and perfect gifts. And if our existence is neither necessary nor earned, then it is a gift. The God who is love creates in love. Although he did not need to create us, evidently he desired to do so. God willed for us to be so we could be in relation to him.

Creatio ex nihilo and preservatio ex nihilo may sound like the kind of dusty Latin phrases that echoed in stone churches centuries ago. Yet they actually tell us something incredibly vital and relevant in this season. They tell us that everything is a gift. Every day and every hour and every moment we exist is because God generously wills it so. All of creation, all throughout time, is the overflow of the love of God.

We may feel vulnerable to know that our very existence is contingent in every moment upon the will of God…(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, even in the midst of this time of anxiety and mortality, to remember that every moment we are is a moment when you will us to be. We thank you for the gift of this life, this day, and this hour. May we never take for granted the good and perfect gifts you give. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 4/17/2020: The Hallway Through the Sea #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (SERPENT ON A POLE) | JESUS WAY 4 YOU

DayBreaks for 4/17/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, consider Andrea Bocelli’s “Amazing Grace” in Milan. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” – Numbers 21:8–9

Meditation 17. 2,016,020 confirmed cases, 130,528 deaths globally.

The journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan could have been short and swift. Instead, because of their own persistent disobedience, it extended over 40 long and arduous years. The people often inveighed against God. In Numbers 21, they are afflicted with serpents in the wilderness. They cry out for mercy. God tells Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole and invites them to look for this sign of his provision and healing whenever they are bitten.

It’s a puzzling story. Why a graven image? Why a snake? What message was God sending his chosen people?

Consider for a moment something simpler: the physical posture this required of the sufferer. Imagine a young woman dragging her weary body across the sun-scorched earth of Edom. The snake bites. Where does the young woman look? What would be, in that moment, the most natural thing she could possibly do? The answer, of course, is to look down. To fix her eye on the snake, or on the wound, or to look for more snakes concealed among the rocks.

In order to receive healing, the sufferer has to turn away from the object of her affliction and turn to the object of God’s provision…  (Click here to see the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: In this season, countless anxieties and agitations clamor for our attention. Help us, O Lord, to discipline our powers of attention. Help us to lift our eyes away from our passing troubles and to fix our eyes on the one who was lifted up for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.