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 6/04/19 – 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 3/11/19 – A Most Sobering Truth

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DayBreaks for 3/11/19: A Most Sobering Truth

On Sunday we recognized, remembered and honored the persecuted church around the world. I’m sure you know the stats: more Christians were martyred in the 1900’s than in all the other centuries combined. In fact, based on one source I consulted, 65% of all Christian martyrs ever were killed between 1901-2000. At one point at the height of communism and fascism, 330,000 annually were dying. Best guesses are that presently between 100-150,000 are being martyred each year – that’s over 410 martyrs each and every day, 365 days a year.

Yet, statistics only go so far. They tell neither the personal stories of those who suffer and die for their faith, nor the stories of their families. Putting a face to those who suffer is much more impactful than the numbers themselves.

On Sunday, we had some people with us from China and India who shared stories – and in the case of the brother from India – his own personal story of beatings and his struggle.

But, as harrowing as some of the stories are, what impacted me the most was this verse from 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…  Read that VERY CAREFULLY. It is part of inspired Scripture and is says that not just some, but ALL who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted. That brought me up short. Are you being persecuted for your faith, really? I am not. Part of that is living in America where we have some freedoms, but the verse didn’t say that only those living in countries without religious freedom would be persecuted…it says that ALL who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.

The reason I’m not being persecuted isn’t because I live in America – but this verse tells me that it is because I don’t desire to live a godly life. All my life I more or less assumed I wasn’t persecuted because I lived in a free county. And all my life I’ve been wrong.

PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for wanting a persecution free life more than I desire to live a godly life. 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 01/03/19: Smiley Face Stickers and the Cross

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DayBreaks for 01/03/2019: Smiley Face Stickers and the Cross

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/01/99, by Tim Dalrymple:

A verse that has been haunting my thoughts recently is Mark 15:34: And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ I had always found this passage extremely disturbing. Could it be? Jesus was left alone, abandoned, forsaken, precisely when he needed the Father most. In his moment of deepest pain and agony, Jesus could not feel the comforting presence and gentle embrace of his Father. Certainly, in the theological sense, Jesus was not abandoned by the Father, the Father still loved him, and didn’t cast him out of His grace. But, at the least, Jesus felt a frightening and agonizing distance from his Father when he was on the cross.

Although this passage always disturbed and even scared me, I’ve come to consider it one of the most profound in all of Scripture. It tells me that when we hear, “By his stripes we are healed”, we should remember that his “stripes” were both physical and spiritual. We do not see a tranquil, dispassionate Jesus easily enduring physical suffering. Jesus comprehends more than just my physical pain – he comprehends my loneliness and abandonment as well.

It would be easy to brush aside this passage, and like a good American, paste a smiley-face sticker on the cross. But this is very dangerous. There is definitely something beautiful in the cross, for it is a profound demonstration of the depth of God’s love for us.

There is also, however, something very terrible: the suffering and abandonment of a crucified God. We gild our crosses with gold and we wreath them with roses, but we should never forget that the cross is, in the final analysis, an extraordinarily ugly and painful thing.

To wipe away the blood from the cross, to polish away the splinters, is to divest the cross of its incredible power. We should never rob the cross of its ugliness and pain, because it is precisely through that ugliness and pain that Jesus identified with, and overcame, our ugliness and pain. We will never walk further (or even as far) down the path of suffering and abandonment than Jesus walked. There is no extent of pain, loneliness, even distance from God, that Jesus cannot understand. It is because of his excruciating suffering that he is ‘God with us’ when we are facing trials. It is because of his sense of abandonment – by the disciples and by the Father – that he is ‘God with us’ even when we are most lonely and forsaken. Jesus walked the length of the path of physical and spiritual suffering so that he could be with you every step of the way. And you’ll never walk further than he can walk with you.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we thank you for walking with us and for carrying us when we have no strength of our own, and for the amazing demonstration of love that took place on the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/13/18 – Just Wildflowers on a Log

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DayBreaks for 11/13/18: Just Wildflowers on a Log

With the recent tragedies in California (shootings, fires that have destroyed literally thousands of homes, families that have lost everything and a growing count of the dead), there are many people struggling to find hope. It’s understandable. I am not sure how I would react if I were in their place, but this I know –  without hope it is hard to continue living.

A young boy grew up in the country with his parents. When he was 15, the house caught on fire. They escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There were no close neighbors to help so he and his father walked to a distant village to get supplies. As they returned they saw something that stayed with Ruele Howe all those years after. Beside the charred remains of what had been their house, his mother had laid out lunch on a log. She had placed a tin can filled with wildflowers on the log. It was a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy.

This is the Christian faith, isn’t it? She didn’t try to cover up the disaster with flowers, but in the midst of that gloomy scene she had placed a symbol of hope.

Have you just come through a disaster? Or maybe you’re in the midst of one now. Look for tiny signs of hope to keep you going. And remember that there was no hope to be found nearly two thousand years ago as two grief-stricken women approached a tomb on a Sunday morning. But they found hope there and you can, too.

PRAYER: Thank you for the fact that as your children we are never without hope, even in the darkest of times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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