DayBreaks for 2/13/20 – We Lepers

Image result for Father Damien

DayBreaks for 2/13/20: We Lepers

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In his book, God is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg relates the following story:

“Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao—a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

“Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

“Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

“Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

“One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

Identification.  I don’t mean your driver’s license or social security number – I mean knowing who you are – is very important.  If I find myself in a struggle with something, I go to someone who I believe can identify with my struggle so we can speak a common language into one another’s ear.  I don’t go to someone who I believe will not have any sense of what I’m talking about or going through.  To do so would be foolish, at best, and downright harmful because we may get very incorrect advice!

Jesus knew when he came that he would have to become like one of us.  Not just someone with a physical body containing 2 legs, 2 arms, 2 eyes, a nose, ears and mouth.  He knew he would have to become JUST like us in all respects.  The writer of the Hebrew letter understood this: For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18

It wouldn’t be enough to just look like us and sound like us.  He had to be made like his brothers “in every way” so that He would understand the misery and despair and desperation of the human heart.  I find verse 18 interesting: he suffered when He was tempted.  Sometimes we may have the idea that Jesus rather easily and flippantly threw off temptation.  Perhaps he did, perhaps the “suffering” described in Hebrews 2:18 was generalized suffering brought on by the very nature of the Incarnation, but I believe this goes beyond generalized suffering. 

When we are tempted, really, truly tempted, and we resist it, we suffer an emotional and spiritual torment of sorts.  We WANT what is tempting us.  And we want it BADLY.  It is painful to say “No!”  It hurts to be obedient.  But it never hurts as badly as disobedience. 

In the final analysis, Jesus went a step beyond what we experience.  We experience sin as sinners.  Jesus didn’t just experience sin, but He “became sin” (2 Cor. 5:21).  It is in all these experiences that Jesus stands before the throne of the Father, pleading the case for us, “We humans…”.

PRAYER: We will never understand all that you took on to be our Savior, Lord – the humiliation, the pain, the suffering – all because your love refused to let us go.  Thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 01/03/19: Smiley Face Stickers and the Cross

Image result for smiley face

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 11/21/18 – An Other-worldly King

Image result for king's crown

DayBreaks for 11/21/18: An Other-worldly King

Perhaps you have heard this story. It’s a great story: Many years ago, when Hitler’s forces occupied Denmark, the order came that all Jews in Denmark were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars of David. The Danes had seen the extermination of Jews in other countries and guessed that this was the first step in that process in their countries. The King did not defy the orders. He had every Jew wear the star and he himself wore the Star of David. He told his people that he expected every loyal Dane to do the same. The King said, “We are all Danes. One Danish person is the same as the next.” He wore his yellow star when going into Copenhagen every day in order to encourage his people. The King of Denmark identified with his people, even to the point of putting his own life on the line.

It’s a wonderful story with a powerful point. The only problem is it isn’t true. It’s an urban legend. It’s been around for a long time and told thousands of times over. And now with the internet we are getting a lot of these legendary stories retold. Too bad! What an image for a king, identifying with his people.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked. “Is that your idea,” Jesus said to him, “or did others talk to you about me?” That’s how these legends get started. Other people talking about what other people have said. Jesus was essentially crucified on gossip and rumor. An urban legend had developed around his ministry that he was going to lead a revolt against Rome.

In his conversation with Pilate, Jesus finally does imply that he is a king. “My kingdom,” he explains, “is not of this world.” Not of this world. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to find a King who identifies with his people. A King of heaven, a King of kings from some place other than this world.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being a King who can identify with the common man and with our common struggles. Let that thought bring us comfort this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/03/17 – Moving Into the Ward

DayBreaks for 1/03/17: Moving Into the Ward

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven’t experienced in years – somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, “Thank you.”

Christmas is now over, yet this is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was “thank you.” And Christmas is one time when we say “Thank you” to him.

But now that Christmas is over, the questions before us are these:

  1. Will I continue to be thankful throughout this new year, and:
  2. Will I emulate Christ and “move into the ward” for others if called to do so by the Lord?

PRAYER: Lord, only you know what this year will hold, but I pray that we will be thankful all year regardless of what it holds for us, and that we will be willing to live and look like you and move into the ward so we can better love those who need to know love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/21/16: He Is Part of Us

DayBreaks for 12/21/16: He Is Part of Us

When I think back about all the mistakes and bad things I’ve done in my life, I find it both amazing and strange that God has never deserted me. I frankly don’t understand that kind of grace and I certainly do not deserve his eternal presence. Nor do you. Yet, God has chosen to be forever identified with the human dilemma. There quite likely is not a single soul in the world who truly understands your feelings. God understands. All in your life may fall away. God will never fall away.

In Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation, a story is told of Mary Wilson, presently of Dallas, Texas. You would never know by looking at this modest woman that she was the recipient of the Silver Star and she bore the nickname “The Angel of Anzio.” You will recall that when the Allies got bogged down in the boot of Italy during World War II, they attempted a daring breakout by launching an amphibious landing on the Anzio Beach. Unfortunately, the Allies got pinned down at the landing site and came dangerously close to being driven back into the ocean. It looked like another Dunkirk was in the making.

Mary Wilson was the head of the fifty-one army nurses who went ashore at Anzio. Things got so bad that bullets zipped through her tent as she assisted the surgeon in surgery. When the situation continued to deteriorate arrangements were made to get all of the nurses out. But Mary Wilson would have none of it. She refused to leave at the gravest hour. As she related her story years later, she said: “How could I possibly leave them. I was a part of them.”

Our God is a good God. He does not desert us in our hour of need. He hears the cries of Israel. He hears the cries of the church. He hears the cries of His children. Christmas is about God’s eternal identification with the human dilemma.

PRAYER: Why should you be so closely linked to us, so near to us? Why should you choose to associate yourself with people such as us? It is a mystery, God, but one for which I am forever grateful! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 07/22/13 – What God Would Become

DayBreaks for 07/22/13 – What God Would Become

Type = ArtScans RGB : Gamma = 1.882From the DayBreaks archive, 7/4/2003:

Matthew 20:17-19 – “17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (NIV)

If you had lived before Christ came, what would you have expected the Messiah to be like?  While we may sometimes belittle the Jews for their rejection of the Messiah, I doubt that if we had lived before Jesus that we would have recognized and understood what he would be like, either.  After all, how could anyone really understand what God would be like when He came to earth?  As far as most people were concerned, it had never happened before – or if it did, it was through the medium of a theophany, or disguised as traveler.

In his challenging book, The Crucified God, Jurgen Moltmann captured well what God would not become, and what He would become, when he wrote: “The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father.  God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings.  God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law.  God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving.  He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the Godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.” 

God isn’t a religion, a law, or some ideal of a Pie-in-the-Sky Deliverer.  There were those who expected him to come in those ways.  He didn’t.  When He came, He was so lowly, so humble and humiliated that no one recognized Him.  And it remains that way today.  The humiliation of God in Christ was and is beyond all comprehension.  No one would have guessed that the Creator would have stooped so low.  Yet He did – for one reason: so that we could communicate with Him in the deepest and darkest experiences of the human night and He would understand.

PRAYER: As we journey through this life, Lord, at times we want you to be many things to us and for us.  Try as we might, we cannot comprehend the immensity of what you did for us on the cross.  All we can do is thank you!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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