DayBreaks for 7/18/17 – Seven Endless Miles

DayBreaks for 7/18/17: Seven Endless Miles

Luke 24:13-15 (NLT) – That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.

Michael Card (singer, songwriter, author and theologian) wrote and sings a song called Seven Endless Miles. (You can listen to it here.) It describes the walk of the dismayed, disappointed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus – and the surprise guest who eventually joined them on the road.

As they began their walk, just the two of them were there. Seven miles lay ahead of them and it would probably take at least 2-3 hours to walk that distance. There was much to discuss for much that was very troubling had happened. You can talk about a lot in 2-3 hours if your heart is in it. I’m not sure how much their heart was into the conversation other than to reiterate their disappointment and sadness.

How soon did Jesus join them? We don’t know. I would assume it was fairly close to Jerusalem since that’s where he’d been. And for something approaching seven miles they didn’t recognize him (Luke says that God concealed his identity from them).

Why did God conceal who Jesus was? Was it some sort of “discovery” process for Jesus to find out what people were thinking or saying? Was it to delve into the depths of human faith – or lack thereof? I don’t know. I look forward to asking Jesus some day.

But here’s what I find fascinating: for seven miles, nearly 2-3 hours, they didn’t recognize him regardless of the reason. And I wonder: how often has he walked beside me and I neither recognized him nor sensed his presence?

We might be tempted to think that such things have not happened in our life as it did for the Emmaus travelers. But I think that we’d be wrong. Sure, as far as I know Jesus hasn’t physically walked beside me – though it is possible (how’s that for a thought!) Then I realized that He has walked beside me in more corporeal form than you and I might imagine.

Have you ever walked alongside another believer? I’m sure you have. And if you have, you have walked alongside Jesus – because after all, He lives inside each one of His children. And that means He lives inside of YOU and ME. That is what really made me ponder: as I walk along with others, do they even begin to sense the Presence of Jesus when they walk astride me? If not, doesn’t that say that something is seriously wrong with my walk?

PRAYER: Jesus, I don’t want to live in such a way that your Presence is hidden from those who walk beside me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/29/2017 – Looking in the Mirror at 65

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DayBreaks for 6/29/17: Looking in the Mirror at 65

Well, today I celebrate another trip around the sun. I thought that it might make sense to reflect back across my life and share a few things I’ve learned – and haven’t yet learned – as I stare at my reflection in the mirror.

Lessons Learned:

Life is far shorter than you think it will be. It seems like only yesterday that I was 18 years old and thought anyone that was over 40 was really old…really old. And now, I’m 25 years past 40. Where does the time go? What have I done with my life? How much longer do I have left? How will that time be filled? There is no way to recover lost time, but you can make the best of whatever time you have left.

Lessons can be learned in either an easy way or a hard way. It seems that some things I’ve been able to learn just by listening to others. That’s the best way to learn. I’ve also discovered that the most painful lessons are usually the ones that are most important and that I really need to learn.

Purpose becomes more important as you get older. There are many who struggle at a young age with the meaning of their life – and they sometimes don’t find it with drastic consequences as a result. I think that we make life much more complicated than it needs to be – and the same is true with our search for meaning. I think Jesus summed it up perfectly when he gave us the two greatest commandments: to love God with all we’ve got, and to love others as much as we love ourselves. As we get older and things (at least some things) get clearer, those two purposes in live become more and more important. Glory with God is just around the corner when you’re 65 (at least for most of us it’s much closer than when you’re 18) and the number of opportunities when you can hold your loved ones and tell them what they mean to you are like the sand through an hourglass – and you never know how many more chances you’ve got to do that. It might make me sound sentimental, but so be it. I’m resolved to tell people more often how much they mean to me while I can. Purpose also becomes more important because you want to think that your life mattered in some way because there’s not time to make many major adjustments.

People grow more and more precious. I thought when I married my wife at the early age of 18 that I loved her – and I think I did really love her. But not like I do now. Rather than finding that the years have tempered and worn down the love I had for her, I find that I have never loved and appreciated her more than I do now. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because I can look back at my life and see all that she’s had to put up with through the years. Perhaps it’s because I know our time together is limited – unlike when we were young and you think that somehow you’ll live forever. I wish this lesson had been learned far earlier in my life and I would have been a better husband for it. And I’ve learned to love my children more, too, as I’ve watched them raise their own families.

Figure out as early as possible what really matters. It’s not money. It’s not worldly achievement. It’s not a fancy title. It’s certainly not a fancy home or cars. It’s about being a person of compassion, of mercy, of forgiveness, of mirroring as best you can the greatest of all God’s own characteristics: love, mercy, grace, gentleness and stopping to give a hand to those who need your help. I’ve learned that God has never failed me or disappointed me – and that He never will. I am still learning to walk in His oversized steps and trying to be just a bit more like Him tomorrow than I am today.

Lessons I’ve Not Learned:

I’ve not learned how to defeat some of my sin. Oh, I know the answer is through the power of the Spirit, but He hasn’t given me miraculous delivery from the sins that have nagged at me all my life. In a way, though, isn’t the problem in the statement of what I’ve not learned? It is not within ME to defeat the power of sin in my life. I can’t. I’ve proved that, if nothing else, in my 65 years. But it has taught me one very, very important lesson: that the love and grace of God are abundantly more than I need and the power of the blood of Jesus is far more than just adequate to cover every one of my sins. And he has already paid the price for them all! It took me many years to come to understand that nothing more is necessary to take away my future sins. And as hard as it is to believe, I stand before Him justified and forgiven of every…single…sin.

How to be a more generous person. This one bothers me. All my life I’ve struggled with “security” and that has led me to not be as generous as I should have been. When will I learn that my security doesn’t lie in the bank account, but in the God Who holds me, my family, and my future in His hand?

James 1:22-24 (MSG) – Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

Thank you for sharing this walk with me!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the six and one-half decades of life which you’ve blessed me with. I am thankful and blessed because of You. Help me now to not just look in the mirror of my life reflected in Your word, but to act on what your Spirit shows me that my remaining time may glorify You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – The Ways of Endurance

DayBreaks for 6/15/17: The Ways of Endurance

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my wife’s mission blog to India:

 “Oh my. I decided to work on “India Trip” stuff today (Memorial Day) and I started out making a calendar page for the dates I’ll be gone. As I looked at the finished product with only July 4th and July 20th filled in (“leave home”, “arrive home”) and all the blank (so far) places on the dates in between, I looked up to the picture part of the July page of the calendar from which I had copied my sheet. On it there was a picture of a large rock with the ocean around it. The top of the rock was filled to overflowing with plant life; trees, shrubs, undergrowth; all the way to the edges of the rock and down its sides. Between the rock and the ocean, however, you can see that the water has worn away the rock so that it is deeply indented all around. It looks like a huge, wide, roundish head full of green bushy hair sitting on a very skinny neck. Underneath the picture is the caption “ENDURANCE” in large letters. Underneath that is the quote, “Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened”.  

Hmmm.  I don’t like the fact that “endurance” is the subject for July when I’m on the trip; it’s too apropos and more than a little daunting.  I also don’t like the picture analogy.  I would think that a symbol of endurance should show something that looks very shaky, sitting on something that was very solid underneath while ocean waves pounded away.  That’s what endurance is supposed to do, isn’t it, give your soul more solidity? Thinking about it though, it is probably a better picture analogy than I would like.  God is the only rock which is solid.  I am the one who looks more stable than I really am.  Life eats away, revealing to me the truth of my fragility and dependence.  Experiences of endurance such as this trip will show it to me in a much more obvious way than my normal routine does.  Am I scared? Yep!!
“There is a large contingent of mostly younger people who are going to be working on landscape architecture and the large food garden on our team. One young woman showed us her plans and they were truly awesome and inspiring. She is planning and putting into place the landscape with the children playing and monsoon season in mind as her Senior Project in college at Davis. Quite a combination to plan for, isn’t it? The kids and the others there are going to love it! There will be elevated places for hide and seek and other natural play-encouraging landscape plans. Another person from UC Davis is in charge of setting up a huge food garden at the compound in India.  He’s lived in the Congo before and I’m sure that helps. He told us about a fruit he loves which smells horrible and tastes heavenly.  For anyone who would still like to help Little Flock and this trip in some way, this young man was discouraged to find out that he still has a lot of money to raise for his trip. Apparently some money he thought was coming isn’t coming, or something like that.  If anyone would like to help him out with a donation for his trip cost, his name is “Tim”, he’s on Team One and he’s the one in charge of the food garden project. I know he would be very, very grateful.”

Galen’s thoughts: endurance is a trait we admire, but not many of us long for it, for endurance can only be developed by having to “endure.”  Sometimes, it’s enduring suffering or hardship, sometimes it’s waiting…as in the case of “Tim” – waiting for God to provide all that we need.  And Laurel’s right – we deceive ourselves into thinking we are stable, strong, unmovable, and all the time life is chewing away at us until we learn that we’re actually very fragile and delicate and easily destroyed.  There is only on thing that never wears down or wears out or lacks for anything: Almighty God.  It is a lesson we need to learn, and learn well.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all who answer the call to “Go!”  Thank You for the lessons in endurance.  Help us to learn them well – and as quickly as possible!  Please bless this team that goes to show and share Your love with orphans and widows and provide for every need both before they go and while they are gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/14/17 – The Magnificent and the Mundane

DayBreaks for 6/14/17: The Magnificent and the Mundane

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my wife’s India mission trip:

“It always feels so strange when I go to an India Trip meeting, when I first get home and then when I’ve been home a while.  When I’m at the meeting, the trip is everything around which life revolves.  I’m reminded of all the things I still have to get done, the little items I have to buy and how much time I have left to get ready.  When I come home I’m gung-ho and more than happy spending all my time on “India” related things. Then I get distracted with day to day/week to week chores, things at church or in the community that are going on.

“I do, after all, have to do my job; the stuff I’m obligated to do whether I’m paid for it or not.  I don’t want to, it feels like a distraction from what’s “really important”.  But I do it, of course.  The Relay for Life is this coming Saturday and a week and a few days after that is Vacation Bible Camp, and I have to have the music, words and hand motions ready for it.  The music for Sundays and the Chorus has to be practiced and planned.  Youth Group, Bible study, all the admin stuff I don’t really care for has to be attended or planned or taken care of it’s own way, not to mention housework, selling the house, etc.

“So much busyness and activity. So much that is “doing” and not “being”. I fall back into the routine and the India trip seems like a dream again.  

“Life revolves around duties and roles.  The grand adventure; the “quest”; the trip in which I hope to be used by God in such a wonderful way; the high and the noble is dulled by everyday routine.  I remind myself that everything I’m looking forward to with so much excitement and trepidation is only going to last sixteen days and then I’ll be  home again.  Back to the “same ol’ same ol’ things”.

“I don’t want it to be the same.  I want to come back changed.  I know it’s not about me.  It’s about doing Jesus’ work.  It’s about blessing because God has blessed me.  

“Why, when we know that He is here with us in the mundane day to day existence does it seem so, well, mundane?  Why, when we know that everyone matters to Him, the people here in town as well as the orphans in India, does it seem like such a letdown to come home?  I think it’s a matter of distraction and simply not seeing reality clearly.  I have a feeling that when we are in India where life and death is so naked and exposed; where hunger and need is so glaringly obvious what really matters will stand out in stark contrast to what doesn’t really matter.  When Galen and I came back from working in St. Bernard’s Parish, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina and heard someone complain about something petty and meaningless, we felt so disconnected from their vision of reality.  I want to remember what really matters after I get back from India.  I don’t want to get distracted with the “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.  My prayer is that when I get back I will see clearly and never forget what is real.

Galen’s Thoughts: I remember well the bewilderment we felt coming back from Katrina.  It was unbelievable what some people complained about and the things they thought were important after seeing what we’d seen and meeting the people we met there.  Why was “home” so much of a letdown?  Because the need isn’t as visible – and certainly, the spiritual need is the same everywhere. We’d do well to remember C.S. Lewis who said that we’ve never met mere mortals.  Everyone we meet has an eternal destiny.  And each one we see, whether in Louisiana, India or Cloverdale, CA, has a spirit that needs what God alone can give.  Lewis’ said that if we could see one another as God sees us, either we’d be tempted to fall down and worship at the feet of those who are headed to glory, or to shrink back in horror at the fate of those headed toward destruction.  How desperately we need God’s vision to help us see the true needs all around us.

PRAYER: Father, I pray that You’d give us Your eyesight to see the need and the needy wherever we go.  Let us carry that cup of cold water with us and give it away freely wherever we go.  Teach us the value of the “mundane” and that there is no such thing in Your service.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/08/17 – Non-remembrance of Things Suffered

DayBreaks for 6/08/17: Non-Remembrance of Things Suffered

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

We wrestle with various problems related to forgiveness.  The willingness to forgive is the first one.  Sure, we know what Scripture says about forgiveness: that we must forgive because we’ve been forgiven, that our forgiveness is to be “70 x 7” (meaning without number).  Yet we hold our hurts close to our hearts, cooing over them, turning them first one way and then another to dissect the wound from every possible direction – while all the time letting the pain build and fester like a pus-filled wound.  We actually nurture our hurts when we do this.

But inevitably, when you get right down to it, we all know we are supposed to forgive.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had Christians say to me, “I know I have to forgive them,” (strange how that’s always still in the future tense, isn’t it?) “but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about it!”  I think they’re wrong.  Seriously wrong. 

I understand that as humans, God didn’t seem to give us the ability to literally block out a part of our brain and the memories it contains.  (Although, I’m not sure about that – repressed memory seems to be possible, indicating that it is a capability that does exists at least to some extent in the human brain.)  Scripture says that when God forgives, He forgets and will not hold those things against us any more, than He throws our sin into the deepest sea.  To the Jewish mind, that meant that they literally became invisible, for in that day and age, no one could travel to the bottom of the sea to see what lay there. 

Miroslav Volf, a brilliant Christian philosopher and theologian, was driven from his former home in Croatia (the former Yugoslavia) some time back after being arrested for being a Christian under the hostile regime that was there at the time.  He witnessed and suffered horrible things.  He is now the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He is a man who knows a lot about wrongs suffered and how to deal with them.  Here’s what he wrote in his book, The End of Memory: “But that is exactly what forgiveness does! For herein lies the essence of Christian forgiveness: On account of his divinity, Christ could and did shoulder the consequences of human sin; so the penalty for wrongdoing can be detached from wrongdoers. And since on account of his humanity Christ could and did die on behalf of sinners, they, in effect, died when he died; so guilt can be detached from wrongdoers. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we make our own God’s miracle of forgiveness. Echoing God’s unfathomable graciousness, we decouple the deed from the doer, the offense from the offender. We blot out the offense so it no longer mars the offender. That is why the non-remembrance of wrongs suffered appropriately crowns forgiveness.”

He continues with this line of thinking: “When can we forget the wrongs committed against us?  In a sense, forgetting is given to us as the gift of a healed relationship.  It’s a gift of the new world, which God gives us.  Then we can not remember.  And then our experience is like a person who is sitting in a concert hall and listening to a wonderful piece of music.  Even though just two hours ago she was experiencing hell at her job, she’s taken up into that music.  It’s not that she tried to forget so that she could be in the music; it’s that the music took her out of the remembrance of the past.  God gives us the gift of a healed self, healed relationships, and a reconstituted world, and then we can not remember.”

I pray that we will learn to let the music of the concert of God’s love and forgiveness create that new world in our hearts so that we can no longer remember that which we’ve forgiven and endured.

PRAYER: Father, cleanse our hearts from the hurts we harbor, the forgiveness we fail to extend, the pain we refuse to release.  Instead, fill them with the music of Divinity on high that echoes the very forgiveness and forgetting that characterizes Your own heart.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/01/17 – Run to the Rock!

Rafting on the American River (above).

DayBreaks for 6/01/17: Run to the Rock!

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Psalms 61:2 (NIV) – From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

On the 19th of this month, I had a new experience: I went white-water rafting with some other fellows from our church.  We were on the South Fork of the American River, above Sacramento.  It was a LOT of fun!  The water flow was high and rapid and it was a great time of fellowship and fun.

Before we began our white-water adventure, the guides went though a great deal of instruction in order to be sure we’d be as safe as possible.  We received directions about how to get someone back into the boat in case they fell out, about what to do with your feet if you fell out (keep them up, not down as they could catch between rocks and you’d be pulled under!), and what we were to do if the float raft slammed up against a rock. 

Now, it is rather counter-intuitive, but if you see your boat being swept into a large rock, what would your first reaction be?  Most people would instinctively move away from the side of the boat that will be struck by the rock.  They want to get as far away as possible from the edge that will soon be kissing granite!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  But it’s the wrong thing to do.  Instead, everyone was instructed that if it happened, the thing to remember was this: run to the rock.  With all the weight on the high side of the boat, it won’t flip over, but if everyone went to the side below the rock, it would surely tip and everyone would be overboard. 

It struck us that we should “run to the rock” because it has obvious spiritual parallels.  Jesus, we are told, is the Rock.  He is the one to whom we should run for safety.  It may not be intuitive, in fact, we may be tempted to run to things we can see, taste, hear, smell or touch instead of a God Who is a Spirit.  But in times of trouble, if we want our little boat to stay afloat and not get dumped out into the swirling waters of life, remember: “Run to the Rock!”

PRAYER: Lord, help us to remember that there is no place that is safer than to be as close to You as possible.  Give us the wisdom, and the spiritual insight, to run to the rock!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Job 38:4-7 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV) – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

From The Scrivener blog by Doug Dalrymple, 4/20/07:

“Quite literally, as it turns out – the sun is singing: snagging orchestra seats for this solar symphony would be fruitless, however, as the frequency of the sound waves is below the human hearing threshold. While humans can make out sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz, the solar sound waves are on the order of milli-hertz—a thousandth of a hertz.”

We know that whales sing and birds sing, and well, even some of us humans try to sing with varying degrees of success.  Dogs bark, cats meow, rivers roar and even the heavenly objects, so Scripture says, “sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” 

When did all this happen?  We might be tempted to think that it happened before the fall of Satan and the realization of evil in the created universe.  After all, wouldn’t it make sense that God’s glorious creation would praise him?  Should we be so arrogant to think that only humans and angels can do so?  It may be true that they sang for joy at the creation and before the fall, for we’re also told through the word that the entire creation now groans and travails in pain, awaiting deliverance that will some day surely come!

But in the meantime, if we’re quiet enough for long enough, you’ll still hear singing.  You’ll hear it with your ears as the animals, wind and sea sing, you’ll hear it with your heart as you look up at the starry canvas on a warm summer night.  And, for those who have ears to hear, we can hear it in the sub-human range of the song of the sun and other stars that sang in the very beginning. 

It’s interesting that something as huge as the sun has such a small voice.  We’d expect it to be huge – a mighty roar as the gasses combust and the flares soar.  But it is a sound too low for us to even hear!  And, as I think about it, perhaps that’s how it really should be anyway.  The voice of God on the mountain was so mighty that people feared Him and fled.  But that’s not his only voice: he also spoke in a whisper to Samuel as a young boy, and in my own personal favorite – he spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice”, that literally translated is something like the sound of falling snow.  As Doug put it: “There’s just something marvelous about big, big things with still, small voices.”

When we were little, our dads were big, but when they pulled us close in their powerful arms and we heard the song, “I love you!” come pouring from their lips, it was marvelous.  And now, with my earthly father gone some 20 years, I’m enthralled when I hear God’s voice, through Jesus, saying, “I love you, son.  I’m so proud of you.  I’ll never let you down!  You’re safe here with Me.”

Big Things with small voices, indeed!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the music of the spheres and for the song of love that You sing to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.