DayBreaks for 7/07/16 – What Can I Give Them?

DayBreaks for 7/07/16 – What Can I Give Them?

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Sometimes pastors find themselves in strange circumstances.  Some are just funny – like playing golf and watching how some of the guys you play with struggle to control their language after they make a bad shot.  You just know that if the pastor wasn’t there, the struggle wouldn’t probably even be attempted and the language would flow like the water that took away the golf ball!  Sometimes the words slip out anyway, and they’ll turn and look at you with a despairing face and say, “I’m sorry, pastor!” 

Sometimes, though, the struggle is inside the pastor.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of situations where we don’t have a clue what to say (and I know you’re thinking that it would be a miracle for a pastor to NOT have something to say!)  Such situations are fairly common, however.  What do you say when you are confronted by parents of a young child who is deathly ill, and one bit of bad news after another seems to pile up like the snows on Everest?  What are you supposed to say when the dreaded “Why?” question comes up at times like those? 

I recently found myself in such a situation, and I was praying inside myself to God.  “Lord, what can I say?  What do You want me to tell them?  What can I do to help them get through this?”  As He often does, His Spirit whispered to me, “Just give them Me.”  I found myself quickly reverting to my skeptical, faithless self and I replied to Him, “But God, that’s not enough.  They need more.”  And again, ever so lovingly, the Spirit sighed, “If you give them Me and that’s not enough, nothing will ever be enough.” 

I immediately realized my sin in thinking God was not enough.  Of course He’s enough.  When pastors and others find themselves in such situations, we must NOT try to give them answers to the “Why?” questions because we simply don’t have answers.  And to share Romans 8:28 (“all things work together for good…”) is like a cold slap in the face when a child lies in critical care.  That’s not an answer, either.  Not at times like that.  Only God knows the answer, and that’s part of the reason that we must give them Him and nothing else.  Encourage them to talk to Him, to rant at Him, to shake their fist in His face, to beg and plead and argue. 

But is this biblical?  I think it most certainly is.  We don’t know the answers to why.  Job’s friends tried to supply the answers to “Why” for Job, and at the end of the long discussions, God says that his friends were ignorant and didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, that they’d spoken foolishly.  May God spare me from being that kind of friend, or having that kind of friends.  Let me have friends in times of need who just give me God.

PRAYER:  There is so much in this world that we don’t understand, Lord, and which puzzles and perplexes us in the deepest levels of our souls.  Help us to realize the limitations of our wisdom and thinking, and not try to answer for You the questions that only You know the answers to.  Help us to be true friends who will share Jesus with all our acquaintances as the only answer to the world’s questions.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 10/02/15 – Guessing at the Answers

DayBreaks for 10/02/15 – Guessing at the Answers

I LOVE to speculate.  Probably to a fault.  I love to contemplate the mysteries of God, how He works, what He knows and how He thinks.  I want to know the “Why?” behind things.  I know that too much speculation is empty and useless.  I can accept that there are things that God has not told us because He didn’t want us to know, didn’t need us to know, or which, well, we’re just too dumb to be able to understand.  I don’t know if it’ll be that way in heaven, but I feel rather certain that even there we won’t be able to begin to fathom the depth of the Father’s mind.  But that only makes it all the more intriguing for me, because I love to learn, and I’m a slow enough learner that He’ll have to repeat things to me many, many times!

There are many times that people ask me questions about why God does this-or-that, and I’ve got to admit that I often don’t know.  Why did God permit something to happen instead of prevent it?  I can’t answer that question.  Nobody that I know can answer it satisfactorily.  Sometimes I speculate about why, but that’s probably not a good thing to do.  In our desire to help someone find their balance again, we grasp for answers.

Sometimes, we think that as Christians we are expected to have all the answers to anyone’s questions, and that we’re supposed to answer them in a certain way.  Consider this cute story: “A little boy went to Sunday school, where he knew the sort of answers you’re supposed to give to questions.  The teacher asked, ‘What is brown, furry, has a long tail, and stores up nuts for winter?’

“Well,” the boy muttered, “I guess the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”

Here’s the bad news: the bad news is that we are often like that kid, knowing the right answer, but not confident enough to say it.  We are suspicious that there’s something we’re overlooking, or something that we’re missing and we’re afraid we’ll look like a fool if we say what we believe.  And so we don’t say anything, letting opportunities pass us by.  And while we may be suspicious of the question – that there’s some ulterior motive for the question or that it’s a trick of some kind, Jesus doesn’t play games with us.  There are not trick questions with God, for far too much is at stake.

Here’s the good news: whenever we are in doubt, the answer IS Jesus!  Whenever someone is in pain, confusion, dealing with an addiction or relationship problem – the answer is Jesus and His Word.  With Jesus, you just can’t go wrong! 

PRAYER: Lord, when we need answers, or even when we merely seek them, forgive our impertinence and help us to know that You are the answer to all of life’s questions, even though we may not understand! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/17/14 – The Un-askable Question

DayBreaks for 7/17/14 – The Un-askable Question

Matthew 13:36 (NLT) Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”

For a moment, set aside the above verse and listen to a story about a young anthropologist named Connie who works among aboriginal people in Australia. The community where she lives has a rich tradition of storytelling as do many pre-literate cultures. Everyone gathers at night, a story is told, and then another, and another. It is not only a form of entertainment for them, but also of education, culture and informs them about the unbroken links to their ancestors and the earth.  Connie feels extraordinarily privileged when she is asked to join in this activity.

The first story told one evening was about the animal ancestor of this community and its adventures at the beginning of time. The story overflowed with detail, action, imagery.

At the end of the story, Connie was thoroughly delighted and asked, “May I ask a question? What does it mean?”

All eyes instantly turned to look at her. The elder looks at her gravely and says, “That is the one question you cannot ask.” A long time passed before she was invited to come again to hear stories. She has asked the wrong question.

“What does it mean?” was the wrong question for Connie to ask about the aboriginal myth. It may seem strange that such a question would not be welcome, but must consider, as in today’s text, whether or not it could be the wrong question for us to ask about the story of the sower, or any of the stories told by Jesus. “What does it mean?” is the wrong question if we think that by having an answer, we can somehow get a handle on this story, domesticate it, make it safe. The stories Jesus tells are not subject to our control. He tells these stories so that we can be transformed. He tells these stories, not so that we can ask questions about them, but so that the stories can ask questions of us.

Jesus wants us to learn from him and his teaching. But what one story teaches me may teach you something different.  And one parable may speak a certain lesson to me at one point in my life but in another season of time has much different, and perhaps much greater, meaning.

Instead of wanting spoon-fed answers, we need to be more content to wrestle with the Spirit and let Him instruct us!

PRAYER: How majestic and mysterious is Your Word, how rich beyond our ken! Thank You for Your Spirit that teaches us in marvelous ways! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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