DayBreaks for 7/10/19 – Awake During Open Heart Surgery

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DayBreaks for 07/10/19: Awake During Open Heart Surgery

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

How much pain can one person carry?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that I’ve had very little pain in my life compared to millions and probably billions of other humans who have lived on this blue marble.  I can hardly imagine anyone, though, who perhaps bore so much pain as the ancient hero, Job.  His suffering was emotional, financial, mental, physical and spiritual.  I don’t know anyone else who has lost as much as Job did (especially his children!)  The pain of losing just one child would be unbearable…but try to imagine losing all 10 at once.  And for a time, Job, we are told, said and did nothing amiss.  Then, he finally seems to break.  But it wasn’t the loss of the flocks, herds, buildings.  It had nothing to do with his financial empire.  He didn’t even rail against God when his children died.  I’m sure that wasn’t because he didn’t love them – he surely cared a great deal about them.  No, Job seemed to “lose” it when he felt God has slipped away and left him alone.  It was then that Job began to struggle.  It was then that Job came face to face with a darker side of his nature than he’d probably realized existed. 

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason wrote: “Being a believer in God necessarily implies grappling with the dark side of one’s nature.  Many of us, however, seem to be so afraid of our dark side that far from dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it.  If we do so chronically, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures.  Perhaps we have never frankly come to grips with the fact that we ourselves are evil.  If we have not, then we are ill prepared for those times when believing in god is like being away during open heart surgery. For our Creator is not yet finished with us; He is still creating us, still making us, just as He has been all along from the beginning of the universe.   But for the short span of our life here on earth we have the strange privilege of actually being wide awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts…the only anesthetic is trust…trust is not a passive, soporific thing.  When there is stabbing pain, trust cries out.  It is only mistrust, fear and suspicion that keep silent.”

Your life has had some level of pain.  I am frequently asked “Why?  Why is there so much pain involved with being a Christian?  You’d think that a loving God would do everything possible to spare His children pain!”  There is a certain rationale to that argument.  But I think it misses the point that Mike Mason makes: God is doing open heart surgery on us – our hearts MUST be changed if we are to live forever.  If they are not changed, we will die of our fatal condition.  No one does open heart surgery just for practice or for the fun of it.  It is only done when it is necessary to save or extend a life.  We are awake during the process.  

If God doesn’t do His surgery on our heart, we will most certainly die.  There will be pain.  But would any father not allow the pain in order to spare the life of the child?  Certainly, a good father would agree to have the child operated on so that the child could live.  The pain is part of the process of healing and being made well. 

What makes the surgery on our hearts bearable at all?  Trust.  Trust that God is reliable and doing what is not only good for us, but necessary for us if we are to live with Him in His home.  Belief that God knows precisely what is needed in your heart and mine – and that He will complete the work that is necessary.

PRAYER: Though this surgery is painful, Lord, we open our hearts to You and invite you to do what is necessary to make us fit to be Your children and to live in Your Presence throughout all eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 6/26/19 – Unfulfilled Expectations

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DayBreaks for 06/26/09: Unfulfilled Expectations

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

The boy was 10 years old. He was known as Phineas. His grandfather, in his will, had left him an island – Ivy Island. Phineas had never seen the island, but dreamt of it often. He pictured how he’d build a house, raise cattle and grow prosperous. But he’d never seen it. All that was about to change. After several requests and years of asking, his father finally agreed to take him to see the island. The father, young boy and a hired hand climbed into the wagon and slowly made their way toward the coast of Connecticut. Finally, as they crested a hill, the father told Phineas that if he ran to the tree line and looked toward the sea, that he’d see his island. The young boy leaped down from the wagon, ran though the trees and caught his first glimpse of Ivy Island – the place of his dreams. However, what he saw wasn’t what he expected. Instead of a beautiful, green island surrounded by the beautiful blue sea, he saw 5 acres of swampy marshland.

Phineas grew bitter and it affected the rest of his life. In fact, later on, Phineas (who was to become known as P.T.), coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You know him as P.T. Barnum, the circus huckster who lured people with promises of freaks and absurdities.

There is something about bitterness that is ugly. Scripture talks about bitterness in this way from Heb 12:15: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Brain tumors are sometimes very difficult to remove because they grow “roots” that intertwine with the brain stem and other parts of the brain. These roots are very difficult, if not impossible, to extract. Bitterness has the same potential to get into our heads and grow into all the little, dark places where it settles in and makes itself at home.

When it seems like life lets you down, we can become bitter. The promise of a raise wasn’t kept, the recognition that was earned wasn’t delivered, the marriage that was supposed to last forever doesn’t. These are facts of life. They do happen and they happen in some way or form to everyone.

What do you do about it? First, in the Hebrews passage, part of the solution seems to be to not overlook God’s grace – rather than meditating on the wrong has been done to us, focus on how much we have received from God that we had no right to expect. Second, realize you can’t stay in a protective shell – you have to move on. You could choose to shelter your heart if your love has been betrayed, but what a horrible life that would be! Love again – take the risk. Let Jesus bring you healing. Don’t give bitterness a place to grow in your heart. It was meant to hold God’s love, not bitterness.

PRAYER: Give us hearts that hold no bitterness.  Give us eyes to see that we deserve nothing from You.  Give us hope in Your eternal love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/04/19 – In the Beginning

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DayBreaks for 6/04/19: In the Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Do you know which book of the Bible is widely considered to be the oldest?  You might be tempted to think it is Genesis, because it deals with beginnings…and next to John chapter 1, it takes us back to the oldest events that ever took place in the time and space of this world.  But that doesn’t mean it was the first of the books which was written.  Moses wrote Genesis, and Moses lived somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 B.C. 

In answer to my earlier question, most scholars (I do not count myself as such, so I’ll take their word for it!) believe that the book of Job is the oldest book we have in Scripture.  No one really knows for sure how old the book is, or when or where Job lived, although guesses on all three accounts have been ventured.  But there is generally unanimous agreement – there is no older book in Scripture. 

What’s the big deal about that?  In and of itself, nothing.  But when one considers the subject matter of the book, it becomes rich with meaning.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted: “It is fascinating to think that as we open this text we may be faced with the earliest of all written accounts of a human being’s relationship with Yahweh, the one true God.”  I would hasten to add to Mason’s comment by noting that it is intriguing that it deals with pain and suffering the believer faces in his/her relationship with God. 

In the beginning (in the sense of being the oldest book in Scripture), we see a man of like passions unto us – and we can immediately identify with him.  He’s a man who works, has a family, a home, friends – and who faces struggles and disasters on a scale that perhaps (hopefully) none of us will ever experience.  We get to watch this ancient saint wrestle with his faith, his friend’s understandings of God and causation, and even with God Himself. 

Mason also noted: “Many reject Jesus, but no one rejects Job.  Rather, the world respects Job, and not with the grudging respect accorded Christ, but with a deep affinity untinged by reserve or fear.  In the eyes of the world Job is less a saint than a comrade in arms.”

I accept Jesus as the Lord, but I struggle to understand him.  It is, in some ways, difficult to identify closely with a sinless God in human skin.  But Job?  Now that’s another story…I can identify with him much more easily.

What should we make of all this?  For me, it says that I need to live my life as an open book, revealing myself not as a prince on a white horse, but as a battered and bruised human.  When I do that, I can point others to God because they will first of all be able to identify with me.  If we as Christians portray ourselves as “holier than thou” and better than others, will people identify with us?  No.  They will resent us.  This is perhaps the greatest danger of hypocrisy – that others won’t be able to identify with us, and through hearing about what Jesus has done to remove our sin and guilt (though we are still masters at sinning!), they won’t give us the time of day. 

So the earliest book deals with pain and suffering and relationship to God.  How fascinating that the newest book in Scripture (Revelation) deals with the removal of all that suffering – but with an even deeper relationship to God, all accomplished through the blood of Jesus!

Prayer: While we thank You for Jesus and what You have revealed of Yourself through Him, I also thank You for stories of sinners like me, who find even in the midst of the greatest struggles in life, that a relationship with You is not only possible, but is the only thing that survives in the end.  Help us be open books to those around us, that people may read of Jesus in our lives and deeds.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/01/19 – Unwanted

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DayBreaks for 3/01/19: Unwanted

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

John 1:10-11 (KJV) – He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

How, I wonder, could Jesus come to his own, God’s chosen people Israel, and they not know or recognize him?  They had been prepared by God Himself throughout thousands of years for the Messiah.  They expected him to come – but tragically, they didn’t see him as anything except a carpenter from Nazareth, a child born out of wedlock, trained in a trade by Joseph.

A widow had children who left her one by one to go to the “new country” (as she called it.)  As they made their tearful farewells, she heard each of them promise her that they’d save money and that they would send for her “very soon.”  Time passed; the children married and had children of their own, but no mention ever came in a letter suggesting they were ready to send for their aging mother.  She deeply longed to see them, but thinking they lacked the means to bring her to the “new country”, she scrimped and saved up enough money to afford on her own to pay them a surprise visit.  She anticipated a joyful reunion with her children and she longed to see them and to meet her grandchildren. Upon arriving her reception was the reverse of what she had hoped and longed for.  Her children had indeed prospered, but seemed annoyed at the surprise visit, and they belittled her old-fashioned clothing and way of speaking.  They had no room for her in their hearts.  The disappointed woman returned home and took up residence in a home for the elderly, where she proved to be a blessing to all about her, pouring out the vast flood of love that her own children had rejected.  She wasn’t bitter.  “It seems to me that I knew what our Lord suffered,” she told a friend, “when He came to His own dear people and they gave Him the cold shoulder.  Just think!  He came unto His own and His own received Him not!  I can understand how that wounded His loving heart.”

Perhaps the Jews failure wasn’t so much that they didn’t recognize Jesus, but that they had no room left in their hearts for this lover of their souls. 

I think we’d best not be too hard on the Jews, however.  How many times have I not found room in my heart for Him when He comes calling?  How many times have I been ashamed or afraid to let people know where I stand, and Who I stand with? 

Jesus loves us.  He came to be with us.  Will we send Him back home alone – and unwanted?

Prayer: Jesus, don’t give up on us!  Keep knocking at the doorway to our hearts.  Transform our hard hearts into hearts that rejoice to see You when You arrive!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>