DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.


DayBreaks for 2/13/15 – Just Not Very Much

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DayBreaks for 2/13/15: Just Not Very Much   From the DayBreaks archive, February 2005:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  (1 John 2:1)

John was a man of strong passions.  He is known by the nick-name of “Old Camel Knees” because he loved prayer so much that his knees were calloused and cracked from time spent on his knees.  He is also known as the apostle of love because of his tender letters and his focus on our need to love one another.  But John had another passion, and it was part of what prompted him to write his letter: that the recipients of his letter would STOP sinning.  Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that the apostle of love was so insistent about our not sinning.  Sin is sin because it is rebellion directed at a heart of Love, God’s heart. 

But while all that may be true, we’d miss the point of John’s writing if we don’t meditate on the verse quoted above.  We can argue all we want about whether or not it is possible for a Christian to not sin, but after all, we’re told that with every temptation there’s a way of escape, right?  Doesn’t that logically mean that we should be able to be without sin?  So, is the result of our sin our failure to appropriate the power of the Spirit to keep us from sinning?  Probably so.  But that’s not really what I want to focus on right now. 

Think about this: what is your goal for your own personal holiness?  Is it the same as John had for those who would read his letter: “…that you will not sin”?  In his wonderful book, the classic, The Practice of Holiness, Jerry Bridges asked himself that question and came up with this response: “…I realize that my personal life’s objective regarding holiness was less than that of John’s.  He was saying, in effect, ‘Make it your aim not to sin.’  As I thought about this, I realized that deep within my heart my real aim was not to sin very much.” 

Ouch, ouch, ouch!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got those sins that I know I need to get rid of, but they continue to plague me.  Could it be because I really don’t want to stop them?  That I cherish them just a bit too much, so they are the exceptions to personal holiness that I allow in my life?  Perhaps I, like Jerry Bridges, haven’t had the right goal: to NOT sin, rather than to not sin very much, and certainly not in a public way!

Does the goal matter?  You bet.  Bridges goes on to use an illustration of a soldier going into battle, a life or death setting.  What’s his/her goal?  To not get hit?  Or, to not get hit very much?  You see the point.  We are in a battle.  It is a life or death situation.  Jonathan Edwards, one of the great preachers of early American history, made lots of resolutions, but perhaps this one was the best: “Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”  Bridges concludes: “There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say ‘no’ to it.”

What’s your personal holiness goal?

PRAYER: God, we need to take our sin more seriously…and to also rest in Your mercy and grace for the times we do yield to our temptation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/06/11 – Looking for Loopholes

DayBreaks for 06/06/11 – Looking for Loopholes

Seems we're always looking for loopholes...

We are a persistent lot, we humans.  We hold stubbornly to our own wants and preferences.  We boldly proclaim our own innocence even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.  We see ourselves as the good guys – and those others as the bad guys.

Jesus and Scripture will have none of it.  When we start to be judgmental (and we do that by comparing ourselves to others), we quickly conclude that we’re better than they are.  Then Romans tells us that when we do that, we are condemning ourselves because we do the same things that we condemn them for.  And when we feel we are “more righteous” and holy than someone else, we should be forced to listen to these words from Scripture: There is none that is righteous, no, not one.

Perhaps the area in which we search most desperately for loopholes it to try to get around forgiving someone who has hurt us – REALLY hurt us – deeply.  Someone who has done something so unspeakable that we feel zero forgiveness in our hearts…and suspect that we may never be able to forgive.  We justify our refusal to forgive.  I’ve done it.  But the Word pulls me up short: Love your enemies.  And I am prompted to ask, even as the disciples did: “Are you serious?  Jesus, you just don’t know what that person has done.  I can’t love him/her.  Not now, not ever.”

In a recent meditation, Ann Voskamp asked the provocative questions: “Does love your enemies have any loopholes?  How are can forgiveness go?”  To answer that question, all we have to do is to ask this: how far did the love of God go?  It went from the throne of eternal glory to the cross of Calvary.  There were no loopholes, not even in the Garden when he pleaded for one.  His forgiveness can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime that anyone turns to him in faith and asks for it.

There are no loopholes to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”  We should stop looking for them and focus our efforts on obedience to that command because we won’t find any loopholes if we look from now until the end of eternity.

PRAYER: There is perhaps no harder thing you’ve asked of us than to love (and forgive) our enemies, Lord!  We can’t do it without you.  Please help us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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