DayBreaks for 8/7/20 – A Modern Lament

See the source image

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2010:

If you’ve read the Psalms at all, you’ve encountered songs of lament.  Lamentations is essentially a long lament.  Michael Card has written a book recently titled The Language of Lament, and it shows that “lamenting” can be a very valuable, and indeed, Biblical, activity.  At times I’m not sure where the dividing line between lamenting and complaining are, but there seem to be some very clear distinctives to me:

  1. Audience: we complain to other people, David and Jeremiah lamented to God;
  2. Purpose: in our complaining, often we simply want to just go on complaining, but in lamenting, one seems to be seeking understanding and wisdom;
  3. Objective: complaining is generally done to elicit sympathy from people – lamenting’s purpose is to plead one’s case to God and seek relief.

I recently ran across what I thought was an excellent modern day lament and wanted to share it with you.

On June 22, 2007, a hit-and-run incident left Daniel McConchie paralyzed from the waist down. Daniel says that since that traumatic day, “God has not healed my affliction, but he has taught me the power of lamenting to him about it.” He adds: “To our detriment, one of the most overlooked portions of Scripture in modern-day America are the psalms of lament. However, David repeatedly demonstrated that laments make obvious our intense faith in God, that he can and will intervene in our time of need. They demonstrate just how deep our relationship with the Father really is. After all, we don’t communicate our grief and mourning to strangers. We save that for those we truly know and love.”

With these words in mind, here is a lament Daniel wrote nearly a year after the accident, on April 9, 2008:

Oh Lord, my God! Why do you wait to show up?
I cried out to you when trouble struck.
I asked for your restoration.
I know that you heard me. I know that you answered.

Yet nothing—nothing of meaning happens again today.
Infinitesimal changes dog my days.
I am hounded by the prayers of the fickle
Looking to me to prove their faith.

Wearily I drag on
Tiring of the waste, hating the horror,
The pain, the suffering, the never-ending trial.
The endless story drags on, and on, and on.

When will the clouds break?
When will the night cease?
When will the tunnel end?
When will you smile again?

What a two-edged sword your voice is!
You speak. And then wait?
You give hope. And then vanish into the mist?
Have you forgotten me? Have more important things arrested your attention?

Hope turns black. This evil I have seen.
Nightly my dreams show me restored,
And in the morning I am broken again
Cursed to relive the horror of suffering’s first day.

Please slay me! Blot my name from the ranks of the living!
For in the grave can I finally rest.
My wife can have her dreams again;
My children a father who can provide as I should.

I wasted my youth. I dismissed the joys I should have embraced.
Now I am a mere spectator
Pretending to be consequential while others take my place.
A position I threw away one fateful day.

How long? How long must I wait here in the middle?
Between healing and hell,
Between heaven and horror,
I am unable to move … unable to see … lost in eternal confusion.

My demons torment me
Batting me about like a toy, I spin and crash in endless cycle.
I no longer know which way is up,
Which way is right, which way to go.

Which way is the path to life?
Is it up an un-climbable mountain?
Or on a path tread by all but me
And the others who are broken like I?

Surely it is impossible for me alone to find
And impossible for me to transverse.
Alone I am finished,
Dust left for the broom.

Who am I that God should remember me?
My only salvation is that he should not forget his image,
Or let his word be broken.
He is faithful to us because he is faithful to himself.

There is nothing I can do,
In no way can I help.
I sit in the ruins and wait,
And take comfort in those who lie in the ashes with me.

But one day, by his promise, I will stand;
Restored as his message of hope is fulfilled.
The Lord will turn this horror into a fading dream,
And I will honor his name forever.

Previously, I’ve suggested you write your own Psalms to God.  Perhaps today you need to write a lament.

PRAYER: Thank You that we can be honest with You and find comfort in Your Presence!  Heal those who hurt this day, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/6/20 – When Good People Quit Being Good

See the source image

It was around 1870 when New York City witnessed one of the most fiercely contested mayoral races in its history.  The incumbent was John Tweed – “Boss Tweed” he was called.  The Boss Tweed machine represented politics at its very worst and it was an administration that was rotten to the very core.  A goodly number of dedicated people were fed up with Boss Tweed’s kind of politics and so those good people of the city took on the Boss Tweed machine.  At the start, they seemed to be making good headway.  But as time passed and the campaign drug on, they began to feel the pressures of fighting against Tweed’s political machine.  Many of those good people began to drop out for one reason or another.  When the election was finally held and the results counted, to many people’s disappointment, Boss Tweed had been reelected.  The next day the New York Times ran an editorial and analyzed what had happened.  It said: “The good people quit being good before the bad people quit being bad.”

Isn’t that so often our dilemma.  We are not tenacious.  We throw up our hands in disgust.  In our witnessing if we don’t have instant affirmation then we throw in the towel.  The same thing is true with prayer, with ministries, with good deeds – even those done for the most noble and best causes.  We get tired for the constant struggle and fight – we get worn down and just plain tired.  And every time we lower our head and relax, our enemy pounces like the roaring lion that Scripture pictures him to be.  And he maims and kills – all because good people stopped doing good before the bad people stopped being bad. 

It happens in the work place, schools, politics, families and churches.  It can happen in our own inward heart-struggle, too…we get weary of the constant whisper of temptation and let down the guard and we get clawed and chewed by the enemy. 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. – Galatians 6:9

There is too much that is of such great value for us to stop “being good”.  Are you willing to pick up your weapons of spiritual warfare and rejoin the fray?  It’s not too late…not yet.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… – Ephesians 6:13-18a

PRAYER: We are such frail creatures, Lord, and we tire so easily after a continual struggle.  We desperately need the strength of Your Spirit that never grows tired, never loses strength, never loses a battle – to re-energize us for the daily grind in this warfare against Satan.  Pour Your strength into us, Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/5/20 – The Thirsty God

Western shore of the Sea of Galilee from atop Mt. Arbel, January 2016, by Galen Dalrymple

I love the stories in the bible of creation, of the flood, of the plagues on Egypt, the preservation in the wilderness, the miracles of the taking of the Promised Land, of Daniel in the lion’s den, the three Israelite boys in the fiery furnace, the virgin birth, the raising of Lazarus and the raising of Jesus. Why do we love those and other stories like them? Because they remind us of how incredibly powerful and awesome God is!

We should also be indebted, however, to the gospel writers who recorded Jesus’ weariness after teaching all day. How he got tired after traveling with the disciples and he stopped at a well in Samaria while the disciples went in search of food. And then there’s being so bone-weary tired that he was sleeping through a raging sea in a tossing boat and only was awakened not by the noise of the sea or wind, but by the terrified cries of the disciples.

And then we come to the messages spoken from the cross. They are messages of compassion: “Forgive them”, “Today you’ll be with me in Paradise”, “Mother, behold your son”, and the powerful “It is finished! Into your hands I commit my spirit!”. Then there’s one that just doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the other proclamations: I’m thirsty.

Why did they record “I’m thirsty”? I suspect that the Spirit knew that in all our adoration of Jesus that we needed to be reminded that not only was he God, but he was very, very human. 100% human, in fact, “fully human and fully God”.

It helps me to know he understands the boredom and dullness that can come from being house-bound on a very ordinary day, or of working your fingers to the bone, of dealing with unhappy customers, of complaining neighbors. We need to remember that his divinity didn’t protect him from any of those things or any of the other things that pierce us day after day. He knows. He experienced it. He understands. And that is comforting.

One misty, cool morning in January 2016, I sat on top of Mt. Arbel overlooking the sea of Galilee’s western shore. I saw where Magdala was, Capernaum and other towns from Scripture. And as I sat there, I tried to make out a human form walking on the beach. It struck me that had I sat there perhaps 2000 years earlier, I might have seen Jesus walking on that beach and thought he was just another human instead of God walking there. And I’d have been right – he was human – and all too many missed him because he didn’t appear to be God in the flesh. It was only his actions and words that revealed the God inside of him. I would have dismissed him as just another human walking on the beach. Maybe that’s how he prefers to show himself to us – as the son of man – so we’d know he knows. It is only then that we can also appreciate him as the Son of God.

PRAYER: Jesus, visit us in our afflictions. Comfort us with your knowledge of human life. And let us see you as the Son of God as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/04/20 – Two Great Days in a Life

See the source image

What were the best days of your life?  If you take a few seconds right now and let your mind scan its memory banks, what are maybe the top 5 days you can remember?  We might think about our being awarded a degree or license that entitled you to practice your profession.  You might think of the day you met your spouse, or the day you were married.  For some it will be when the stork delivered the kids and you held them for the very first time.  It might be when you went sky-diving or summitted Mt. Everest or Denali.  I feel fairly sure that Neil Armstrong would say one of the best days of his life was when he hopped off the lunar lander’s ladder and set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. 

More often than not, we associate our “great days” with some event that we either participated in or witnessed.  I suppose that’s understandable and it shouldn’t surprise us.  But aren’t there things much more significant than being handed a diploma or even being handed a child by the delivery room nurse?

William Barclay made a wise observation: “There are two great days in a person’s life — the day we are born and the day we discover why.”  When we consider that we spend our entire lives doing something – discovering the answer of why we were born is what gives our lives meaning and our sense of purpose. 

At the highest level, why were we born?  Was it not to bring glory to God?  Was it not that we were “created for good works in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10)?  We were assigned our purpose before the world even began: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. – Ephesians 1:4

Do you know why you were born?  Perhaps you’ve been seeking the wrong kind of answers: “Was I born to be a baseball player?”  “Was I born to work in a career?”  “Was I born to be a stay-at-home mom?”  “Was I born to be a (fill in the blanks)?”  I don’t know the answer to those things, and at some level they are all questions of secondary importance until we have come to terms with the truth that we were created to glorify the Father by loving as He does.

PRAYER: Help us to not ask questions that are foolish and to search for answers to items of secondary importance until we have FIRST come to terms with why we were created in the first place!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/03/20 – Run, Goat, Run!

See the source image

Matthew 27:26 – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Lonely. Even the word sounds haunting. Loneliness. Being alone. Left alone. Unwanted, uncared for, unloved. Many hearts scream out their loneliness day after day, moment by  moment, begging for someone to care for and love them.

Judith Bucknell was killed at 38 years of age on June 9, 1980. She was lonely and captured her emptiness in her diary. She was beautiful, talented, smart and successful – but had found no one who wanted her for more than her body and she longed for love. “Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?” she wrote. I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever…I’m alone and I want to share something with somebody.”

On the cross Jesus screamed: My God, my God, why did you abandon me!  As lonely as Judith was, no one was ever as lonely as Jesus at that moment in time. And it harkens back to an Old Testament scene that occurred annually.

The noisy crowd of Israelites would quieten as the priest too the pure, unspotted goat. He then would place his hands on the goat and would proclaim: “The sins of the people be upon you!” With that, the innocent animal received the sins of the nation. The lust, greed, pride, anger, adulteries, theft, murders, unforgiveness and all the evil of the people were transferred from the people to the animal.

The animal was then taken to the edge of the wilderness and released. It was banished as a reminder that sin must be dealt with. The goat was abandoned: “Run, goat, run!”

The people were relieved and according to Scripture, God was appeased and the goat, the sin-bearer, was alone.

But on Calvary, suspended between heaven and earth, the sin-bearer is again alone. Every sin, not just of Israel, but of humanity, was on his shredded shoulders. He is sin, and the one who had always been one with the Father is now two. As Max Lucado put it: “Jesus who had been with God for eternity is now alone. The Christ, who was an expression of God is abandoned. The Trinity is dismantled.

“It is more than Jesus can take. He withstood the beatings and remained strong at the mock trials. He watched in silence as those he loved ran away. He did not retaliate when the insults were hurled nor did he scream when the nails pierced his wrists.

Why did God abandon the sin-bearer? I know the theological answers, but when you are lonely and abandoned, they don’t help much at all. So, what does help? Lucado put it like this: “I keen thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the heavens and cry, “Why”?

“And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I picture his eyes misting and a pierced hand brushing away a tear. And although he may offer no answer, although he may solve no dilemma, although the question may freeze painfully in midair, he who also was once alone, understands.”

PRAYER: Comfort your people, O God, who are lonely and abandoned! Thank you that you gave us a sin-bearer so that we would not be alone forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/31/20 – A Sign in the Subway

See the source image

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

A while back on a subway platform in one of our Eastern states was a large, printed sign proclaiming boldly: “God Answers Prayer.”  Right below that message, some experienced person had scrawled these words: “Sometimes the answer is NO!”  This is one of the challenges that we have to deal with in any discussion of prayer.

If you have talked with any skeptic, or even some Christians, you have undoubtedly heard someone say something like this: “I felt the need of God.  I prayed for something to happen, for Him to give me a sign, or just to answer me, and it didn’t happen.  Prayer failed.” 

Is that really a fair statement to make?  I don’t think so.  As Carveth Mitchell said: “I suggest that you did not want God – you wanted God to do something, and that’s different.”

Far too often I think we think of prayer primarily when we want something from God.  We want someone to be made well, we want more money, we want a child or a job or a house.  And so we pray for those things – asking Him for what we want.  And we tend to pray for what we want, but seldom do we pray for what God wants.  It is very possible that we have missed the primary purpose of prayer: to be in harmony with God, to be keenly aware of His hovering and indwelling Presence, to feel the assurance that God is aware of, encompassing and is far greater than any circumstance we may be encountering, and that no matter what else happens, that we will still belong to Him and that underneath us are the everlasting arms of God that never quiver or are weary. 

Mitchell also observed: “Prayer is not a trading post, but a line of communication.”  Let’s be more aware of the purpose of our praying and not treat it like a bartering session with a Father that loves us.  He is eager to give good gifts…but only what is good, never what is harmful.

PRAYER: In our prayers, Lord, may we want You more than anything else!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/30/20 – The God of Good-byes

See the source image

Mt. 19:29 – And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

There are many hard sayings in the bible and this is one of the hardest. It’s relatively easy to accept that one could live a life of poverty for the sake of the gospel ministry or even of public humiliation. But this verse (the part about leaving loved ones – not the part about fields) seems beyond the pale to me. Yet, Jesus said it and I can’t just throw it out. Leaving those I love would be the hardest sacrifice of all.

With a little bit of imagination we can see Jesus come in from the shop one hot Galilean night and Mary tells him, “John is baptizing in the desert.” With those words, Jesus takes off his tool belt and hangs them up, gathers a few meager belongings and turning to Mary says, “Goodbye, mother.” He walks out the door to embark on his ministry. Jesus, and Mary, knew it would never be the same as it had been. I suspect that both of their hearts were broken.

There are many in the bible who said their farewells when beckoned: Joseph, Jonah, Hannah, Daniel, Nehemiah, Abraham, Paul…and the list goes on.

Missionaries know good-byes all too well as do those laboring in difficult and dangerous places to feed the hungry, dig wells for water and treat illnesses.

So, what kind of God would call people into such agony and heartbreak – giving you a family and loved ones only to then call you to leave them?

Max Lucado asked that question in No Wonder They Call Him Savior and this is what he came up with:

FIRST: A God who knows that the deepest love is built not on passion and romance but on a common mission and sacrifice.

SECOND: A God who knows that we are only pilgrims and that eternity is so close that to say “Good-bye” is in reality only a “See you tomorrow.”

THIRD: A God who did it himself.

Shortly before he died, Jesus looked down at the tear streaked face of Mary again and saw John beside her and said: Woman, behold your son. He wasn’t referring to himself, but to John. John must have held her a bit tighter at that moment. “Jesus was asking him to be the son that a mother needs and that in some ways he never was. Jesus looked at Mary. His ache was from a pain far greater than that of the nails and thorns. In their silent glance they against shared a secret. And he said good-bye.”

Yes, God is a God who calls us into “good-byes” but he is also the God who is giving us an eternal “hello”.

PRAYER: Good-byes are hard, Father. We thank you for the loved ones in our lives and pray for the courage to say “good-bye” knowing that in light of eternity it is no more than “See you tomorrow!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/29/20 – He Got the Cookies

See the source image

The inimitable, late Paul Harvey told a story about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother.  Before they entered the store, she gave the little fellow some very specific instructions: “You’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even bother to ask for them.”

She then picked him up and put him in the child’s seat in the shopping cart, and they took off through the aisles.  The boy did just great until they came to the dessert and cookie section. Seeing the chocolate chip cookies he just couldn’t seem to help himself, so he said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.”

They continued on their journey up and down the aisles, but she forgot something and had to back track and they found themselves once more, of all places, in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” he begged.  Stern faced, she replied: “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down and be quiet.”

Finally, their search for items concluded, they arrived at the checkout.  The little boy seemed to sense that the end was in sight and that this might be his last chance to get cookies.  He stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?”  Everyone in the checkout lanes laughed and applauded. 

Do you think the little boy got his cookies?  You bet!  The other shoppers moved by his daring pooled their resources, and that little boy and his mother left the store with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. –  Luke 11:5-8

Jesus used the term “shameless persistence.”  Sometimes I think we are embarrassed to keep asking God for something over and over again.  Maybe the reason we don’t get it is because we have the idea that persistence is shameful and that God is sick and tired of hearing the same request out of our mouths over and over again.  I don’t think that’s the case.  It appears that Jesus didn’t think so, either.

PRAYER: We know, Father, that You will only give us what is good for us.  Help us to be bold in our asking, full of confidence in Your hearing and full of peace to rest in Your decision!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/28/20 – The End of Hope

Hope. To some it means everything yet to others its one of those four-letter words. I firmly believe that as long as people have hope they can endure almost anything. Sometimes, it is those who give up hope who often are the most desperate, while for others it is utter desperation that drives them to dope.

The Bible talks a lot about hope and rightfully so. When we get our arms around the reality that the Bible teaches us about our utter sinfulness and how we are dead in our sins – well, that’s when we have no option but to cast ourselves on the promises of God and our hope springs anew and eternal.

In times like we live in this very day – surrounded by people who might infect us with a teeny, tiny virus that could snuff us out in a matter of days – we cling to hope. We hope for herd immunity, we hope for a workable and safe vaccine that has lasting efficacy, we hope for jobs and schools to rebound.

What do we do? We huddle at home, work virtually, educate virtually and wonder how long we can keep this up. We pray. We hope. And we have company.

In Revelation 6, we see another group huddling in heaven: the martyrs of the faith wondering how long they will have to wait. At least for now, waiting seems endemic to the human condition.

It is intriguing that one of the books of the Bible that never mentions hope even one single time is the book of Revelation, the book that gives us the greatest insight into how this whole creation and God’s plan works out. Why is hope not mentioned?  Because once things have been fulfilled there is no longer anything to hope for – it will all have come to pass in perfect completeness.

Until then, hope is the anchor of our souls.

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV) – We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

PRAYER: Jesus, we hope for many things yet long for the day when hope, like sin and death, is no more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/27/20 – The Tale of the Crucified Crook

Luke 23:42 (NLT2) – Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

Have you ever thought about how outlandish this request was? Here was a violent man who by his own admission was receiving his just reward of crucifixion. He didn’t deny his guilt. Perhaps the only thing that is more shocking than his request was the fact that his “death bed” request was granted. But why? What are we to learn from this?

Some time ago someone broke into a department store. What was interesting was that they didn’t steal a single thing. All they did was spend their time inside switching price tags. An outboard motor was marked at $5 while stationary was priced at hundreds. And then they escaped.

The next morning it took four hours before anyone noticed there was a problem. In the meantime, some folks got great deals! But the pricing had nothing to do with the value of the item itself.

You see, we are living in a day and age when the value system is totally bonkers. We’ve raised the value of cheap thrills and degraded the value of human beings to nothing more than a pile of cells composed of a few minerals and water.

Jesus’ incredible granting of the thief’s request shows us that even the greatest of losers are valuable. Jesus was showing us by his response (Luke 23:43 – I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise) reveals what Jesus thinks of the value of the human race.

And get this: what could the thief do for Jesus? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. He would never be able to do a single thing for the cause of Jesus. But he didn’t have to in order for his value to be recognized. The love of the Lord doesn’t depend on what we do for him or could do if given the chance. You have value just because you exist!

Try to hold onto that thought the next time someone shames you, attacks you, or steamrolls you into the dirt. When someone tries to mark down your value, just smile because you know the truth about yourself. If you’d been the thief on the cross and made that request of Jesus you would have heard the same words spoken back to you that the thief heard.

I love what Max Lucado said in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior said: “…it makes me smile to think that there is a grinning ex-con walking the golden streets who knows more about grace than a thousand theologians. No one else would have given him a pray. But in the end, that is all that he had. And in the end, that is all it took.”   

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, have mercy on us sinners and remember us when your Kingdom comes in its fullness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>