DayBreaks for 11/12/19 – On a River that Winds on Forever

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DayBreaks for 11/12/19: On a River that Winds on Forever

This past weekend I buried my mother’s ashes next to my father in a rural cemetery in Iowa near where they both were born. As we drove to Iowa and as I lowered the container of her ashes into the dark, cold ground, I couldn’t help but think about life.

My first thought was how 90 years of life were, at least in some fashion, reduced to a box of ashes. I realize that’s not the entire picture – not by a long shot – but the mortal remains of my mother were reduced to a box 9”x10”x5”. When I die my ashes will occupy a similar space. But life is much more than the dust from which we were formed.

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron. It contains a line near the end that struck me as I drove across Illinois into the state of my birth that goes like this: “I’m on a river than winds on forever.”

The day will come when my mortal life reaches its conclusion. But just as with my mother and father, that will not be the end of ME. We think of death as being the cessation of life. If we limit our thinking to the life as we have experienced it since our birth we are not seeing life clearly. From the moment of my conception I have been on a river that winds on forever. The river won’t stop flowing when my body dies. I will not be dead. I will be truly alive for the first time. From the time I was conceived my cells started to die as well as replicate and multiply. But when this river that now carries me toward eternity flows onward and actually deposits me on that eternal shore, for the first time in my existence there will no longer be cells that mutate or die. There will be life..and only life that will wind on for the numberless eons of eternity.

Jesus claimed to be the Living Water. He is that River that carries me onward, nudging me day by day to that eternal shore.

PRAYER: For the gift of an unending life I am grateful, Lord. Let me learn to live well here so that I can live well forever. Thank You for this amazing journey! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/23/19 – Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19: Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

On our last full day in Denali National Park, we were driven to Kantishna, Alaska which is only 2.5 miles up the road from where we had been staying. It’s the end of the road…literally…92.5 miles into Denali National Park. It was strange to stand at the signpost that marked the end of the road and it made me think.

During our time in Denali we’d seen grizzlies, moose, caribou, ruffled grouse, golden eagles, ptarmigan, otters, seal lions, beluga whales, magnificent foliage, spectacular lakes and ponds left by glacial melt, looming mountains, massive glaciers, glorious sunrises and sunsets. If you have never been to Alaska you cannot possibly understand what I’m trying to describe. It is breathtaking.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all, to be swept off you feet and to forget things that should not be forgotten. The end of the road sign reminded me of that.

At the end of my road, what will my story be? In the end it isn’t about grizzlies or moose, mountains or lakes. It’s all about people – creatures far more magnificent than the mightiest grizzly or the hugest moose. They are more magnificent because they are made in God’s image, and though we hope the animals we have loved will be part of the afterlife, we don’t know for sure. But the people we have loved – and hated – do have an eternal destiny. At the end of the road, God won’t ask what I thought of the wonder of Alaska. He’ll ask if I put my faith in Jesus. He’ll ask if I fulfilled the two greatest commandments: 1) loving him with all I have within me, and 2) loving my neighbor as myself. Part of that last command is to tell them about Jesus. When I’m at the end of the road, how many will I have brought to the cross to find the love and forgiveness to be found there? That’s what will matter.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CSBBible) – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.

PRAYER: I am prone, Lord, to get too caught up in the things that surround me in life rather than the people who surround me. Give me greater boldness to introduce friends and loved ones to you so that at the end of the road I shall not be ashamed and found before you empty-handed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/24/18 – The Mayor of Waterford

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DayBreaks for 9/24/18: The Mayor of Waterford      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey tells of a visit he made in the town of Waterford, Ireland.  He went there to see the famous tomb craving on the stone marking the final resting place of Mayor Rice.  “Considered one of the finest monuments in Ireland, the stone carving portrays the devout Mayor Rice’s decomposing body being gnawed and devoured by toads, vermin, and insects.  The mayor died at a time when the shadow of the Black Death shrouded all of Europe.  ‘Whoever you are that pass by, stand, read, weep,’ says the mayor’s inscription.  ‘I am what you will be and I was what you are.’ 

“The physical world, no matter how attractive, has its limits.” 

It isn’t often that you visit a gravesite to see a picture of the person resting therein being consumed by vermin.  We would rather not think of such things – we’d rather think of the deceased as they looked when they were happy and full of life.  We would rather believe that all is well – even below the surface of the ground where our eyes cannot penetrate the murky darkness.  

But, such is not reality.  “From dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,” the Lord has decreed.  But that’s not us – it’s just the shroud we wore in life.  Still, the sentiments on the Mayor’s gravestone and the pictures carved there are a good reminder to us: we are mortal.  We are finite.  We are not destined to live in this world forever and ever, hallelujah and amen.  It will, certainly, come to an end, and we shall be like Mayor Rice.

Let us remember that, and remember that the allure of this world is a deadly siren song to divert us from the pathway to eternal life.

PRAYER: Give us perspective, Lord, that we may live wisely, redeeming the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/30/18 – An Excellent Question

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DayBreaks for 8/30/18: An Excellent Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love a good question!  Good questions (and many DayBreaks readers have posed some really good ones to me in the past 11 years!) make one think!  And thinking is good, methinks!

It turns out that Blaise Pascal, a 17th century mathematician, philosopher and theologian, had a pretty good noggin and thought some pretty deep thoughts.  And, he asked some excellent questions. 

I have noticed in my life that no matter how good things are, or how happy I may be, that there always still seems to be something missing.  Even at my most happiest moments, there is an aching inside my heart that tells me that there is an absence that hasn’t been filled.  Why is that? 

That’s one of the things that Pascal wrestled with, too (hey – I’m in good company!), but he came up with an explanation for it that is worth pondering.  In the manner of great thinkers, he posed his answer in the form of a question so that we could wrestle with it on our own.  He said (paraphrasing): Do you miss something you’ve never had?  Here’s an example: have you ever grieved the loss of being able to fly?  No – while you may wish you could fly, it’s not something you’ve ever been able to do, so you can’t grieve the loss of it.  Have you ever grieved losing your third eye, or a third leg or arm?  No.  Why?  Because you’ve never had them to start with. 

But we do grieve a loss that we feel inside, this nameless and relentless longing for something that we no longer have.  And what is it that we are missing?  I think there are probably several things that we did once have, but which we have lost:

FIRST: innocence.  We were born and formed in the womb as innocent beings, but all too soon we lost our innocence and we grieve that loss.  Shame and guilt took the place of that initial innocence – and they stick with us!

SECOND: the full image of God that we were meant to bear was lost when we sinned.  We were meant to be more like Him than we are – surely Adam and Eve knew what this image was like when they walked and talked in the garden with God – being to being, in sinlessness.  We can’t do that in the same way now that they did – at least, not until we depart this world.

THIRD: the awareness of His Presence, heaven and home.  We came from God.  I don’t know where our souls were before we were conceived, or if they were created at that moment, but this I do know: we have a longing for a better place.  Where could that longing have come from if it were not implanted into our awareness by God?  Why would He do such a thing?  As a beacon, it calls us back to our true home and our true Father. 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NIV) – I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

PRAYER:  Lord, you have put eternity in our hearts and we don’t comprehend it.  But we have a longing for Home, for our True Father.  May we follow that yearning beacon to Your (and our!) heavenly home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/29/18 – Not for Two Minutes

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DayBreaks for 8/29/18: Not for Two Minutes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I have a lot of questions that I’d like to ask God.  I know that I have no right to ask Him anything – except that He seems to welcome our questions and He seems to even encourage them.  That doesn’t mean He always tells us the answer.

One of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask God is posed when they stand over the casket of a child.  Marshall Shelley, at one time an editor for a Christian magazine (Leadership), had a baby boy named Toby who was born at 8:20 p.m. on 11/22/91.  Toby died two minutes later, at 8:22 p.m..  Here’s what Marshall had to say: “My wife Susan and I never got to see him take his first steps.  We barely got to see him take his first breath.  I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies.  We never got to wrestle, race, or read…What would have made him laugh?  Made him scared?  Made him angry?”

It turns out that Toby was born with a very rare genetic disorder.  Three months after Toby died, Marshall and Susan’s two-year-old daughter, Mandy, died.  Understandably, in their deep grief, the Shelleys wrestled with their faith and their God.  “Why,” Marshall wrote, “did God create a child to live two minutes?”

I believe that God gave Marshall the answer that he and his wife needed to hear – an answer that I would not have anticipated.  Marshall shared that answer: “He didn’t.  [And] He didn’t create Mandy to live two years.  He did not create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).  God created Toby for eternity.  He created each of us for eternity…”

It seems that whenever we lose someone we love, or even a pet, we ask “Why?  Why is life so short?”  We are so earth-bound that we can’t see (or we fail to remember) that God didn’t create any of us for just a few minutes, years or decades on this earth.  We are all created to live in eternity and that is His desire for us.  It doesn’t take away the pain of loss that we feel in our hearts, but it gives us a different perspective with which to see the things that happen to us.  And perspective is something we so often lack in this world.

God made you for eternity.  For now, you are here.  Let’s make the most of the present while preparing for forever.

 PRAYER:  We are thankful, Father, that You didn’t just create us to live and few years and then be gone like the morning mist, but that You formed each of us for eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/18/18 – Ever Increasing Glory

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DayBreaks for 7/18/18: Ever Increasing Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

There is a fascinating verse in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 3, verse 18: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  Today I want to share another thought that struck me as I meditated on this verse and my uncle Dale’s homecoming. 

First, as I wrote yesterday, Paul notes that it is our unveiled faces that reflect the Lord’s glory.  We were created and made in the image of God.  Jesus, you recall, was the exact image of the Father according to Paul’s writing to the Colossians.  As humans, our true faces, the true “us”, is veiled.  It is hidden from sight, and therefore, we struggle to reflect the Lord’s glory.  But when we, like Dale, have passed from this vale of shadows, casting aside the flesh that has veiled the Lord’s glory for our lifetimes, our faces will reflect the Lord’s glory more perfectly than ever before. 

But, Paul goes on and notes that this is an ongoing process: “we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory”.  I used to think that the process was more-or-less finished when we died.  But Paul says, “ever-increasing glory” to describe our future.  If Jesus is the perfect image of God, and God is infinite, it stands to reason that we will never reach the perfect image of His likeness, for then we would have to become infinite, too.  And so, I believe that possibly this is why Paul wrote, “ever increasing glory”.  For all eternity we will grow more and more like Jesus – reflecting his glory more perfectly with every trillion years that pass.  The end result?  “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  1 Jn. 3:2  “We shall be like him.” It doesn’t say we’ll be identical to him – but “like’ him, but our glory, unlike his, will be ever increasing. His can’t increase, for it is infinite already! 

Dale has become like him already, Dale has seen him, Dale has been held by him, Dale has joined the eternal song of the Lamb.  And he awaits us there.  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, Oregon, Iowa, California, India or Iraq, has a spirit that needs what God alone can give. Lewis’ said that if we could see one another as God sees us, we’d be tempted to fall down and worship at the feet of those who are headed to glory.  Dale has experience that glory, and I believe if we were to see him now, we’d be speechless.

PRAYER:  We can’t begin to comprehend the eternity that You have planned for us, Jesus.  How exciting it is to think that we will grow more and more into Your image throughout all eternity!  Let that process start in us now, as we await what we will become through Your tender kindness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.