DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – The Shadow and the Sun

DayBreaks for 9/27/17: The Shadow and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I sit here in the office that is our kitchen, I look out through a window over the world famous Alexander Valley.  World famous, you say?  Yes, any oenophile knows about it.  (In case you’re not familiar with the term, “oenophile” means “wine lover”.)  It is here in the rich soil of Sonoma County, that some of the world’s finest wines are grown.  Much of the wine that comes from grapes here, I’m told, is never sold in the United States, but is exported to other countries – like France and Italy. 

We live on a hillside overlooking part of the valley.  Today is one of those kind of days that I love: the sky is mostly blue, but there are puffy marshmallow clouds drifting in from the sea, taking a somewhat southerly bent as they cross the valley.  I look out and can watch their shadows move languidly across the green vineyards and through the forests.  It is a beautiful sight to see and it brings a calmness to my soul, which is often times troubled.

Where we live there are people who love the heat of the summer.  I’m not one of them.  Fall is my favorite time – the air cools down and imparts an energy to my body that makes me want to shout for the joy of being alive!  In the summer, we have virtually no clouds.  It doesn’t rain here in the summertime.  At best, we may get a morning fog blanket from the Pacific coast that is just a few miles over that-a-way as the crow flies.  But then the fog burns off and the heat of the sun’s rays make the grapes grow and get fat and rich with juice.

I prefer cloudy days.  Not totally cloudy, but the drifty-dreamy days of fall before the heavy rains come to quench the thirst of the parched earth. 

The shadows – the darkness.  Both are metaphors used in Scripture to describe difficulties, evil, sin, times that are not good and that bode ill for the future.  On the other hand, the sun and light are used as symbols of good and of life.  Life is filled with a mix of shadows and sun, good and hard, peacefulness and turmoil.  It seems as if some live in places in their souls where there is only shadow, or at the most, very little sunshine.  And it can lead to despair and depression when all you can see is the shadows. 

I like what Jonathan Foreman said: “The shadow proves the sunshine.”  If there is a shadow, there must be a source of light.  Otherwise, there can be no shadow. 

In the middle of our lives, on the days when the shadows are deep and long, remember this: if you can see the shadow, there is a Light!

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

PRAYER:  Father, when life’s shadows are long and our hearts are filled with despairing darkness, help us to remember that You cannot be far away or there would be no shadow!  Help us to persevere through the clouds of this day until we see the morning Light!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/5/17- Hungry for the Light

DayBreaks for 9/05/17: Hunger for the Light

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It was just Tuesday, 8/28, that I once more found myself surrounded by redwoods.  It was a week of much needed and appreciated vacation for my better 99.937% and I, and on that day we drove into the redwoods and got out of the car, wandering off from the road to stand surrounded by giants.  It is a humbling thing to stand among monstrous, ancient giants, you know. 

I’ve written of my love for redwood groves before and I’m fairly certain that you’ll hear about them again at some point in time, but this time I noticed something that I’d not really seen before.  I stood near the base of several behemoths and looked upward towards the top of the trees.  Now, bear in mind that I say “towards the top of the trees” for a reason – you can’t really see the tops.  These trees are the height of a 20-30 story building (and those are still relatively babies as redwoods go.)  As you stand at the base of the tree and look upward, there are no branches for a good 75-100 feet.  And even then, branches are few and far between.  (I feel strange calling them branches, because if they fell, they’d be the size of most trees!)  The branches congregate, in a glorious company of celebration, toward the top of the tree.

I understand why it is so – down on the floor of the woods there is not much sunlight to warm a seed to the point of germination.  And there is certainly not enough light to carry on the photosynthetic process that such a large tree needs.  And so, in His wisdom, God put the branches of such trees on top. 

As I looked upward, two things struck me:

FIRST: in its desperate rush to reach the light, the redwood shoots straight up, not bothering to grow lots of branches or to get distracted from its journey and purpose of getting to the light.  It’s as if it just can’t wait to reach the sunshine.  How true that should be of the Christian’s life!  We should be focused on getting to the Light, for in the Light is the life of men.  We shouldn’t let ourselves get diffused and too spread out – it would only distract us from growing up into the Light.  And there is no time to waste.

SECOND: when you stand at the base of the tree, you see no movement at all.  But when you look up towards the underside of the branches towards the top of the tree, you see the huge monolith swaying to and fro with the subtle nudgings of the wind.  The roots, however, are unshaken.  It doesn’t take much to move the top of a redwood, but to move the bottom, where the roots are?  Forget it.  A good root system is vital – for trees and for humans.  May we be like the tree planted by the water of Psalm 1, firmly rooted and reaching as fast and as hard as we can for the Light!

Psalms 1:1-6 (NLT) – But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.  But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

PRAYER: Almighty One, may we stretch hungrily for the Light and put roots down deep into the good soil that is the Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/19/17 – The Cave and the Sun

DayBreaks for 4/19/17: The Cave and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

“There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view.  Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there.  The cave had never seen light.  The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.

“Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit.

“When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.

“Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime because the sun had never seen darkness.

“So the day came, and the sun came down and was courteously shown into the cave.

“As the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like.  Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” – Source Unknown

I sometimes get overwhelmed with a sense of the darkness in the world.  How silly of me!  If Christ lives within me, how can I be in darkness?  John 8:12 says as much: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  All who follow Him WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE!  Wherever I go, Jesus goes, and like the sun, there can be no darkness when He is present!

John 12:46 (NLT) – I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so focused on the darkness that I forget that I am in the light and that I will never walk in darkness!  Help us this day to follow Jesus and to always be aware of the light He brings with him no matter where we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/22/17 – Searching for the Light

Image result for blazing torch

DayBreaks for 2/22/17: Searching for the Light

NOTE from Galen: Sorry about the inconsistent delivery of DayBreaks lately. We’ve been battling internet issues (still are)!

John 18:2-3 (NIV) – Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Oh, my goodness!  How many times, O Lord, have I read this passage and not seen it?  Sometimes the most amazing truths of scripture are in the most innocent and innocuous phrases and words.  The passage, of course, describes the horrible moment when Judas leads the soldiers and officials out from Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, to the garden of Gethsemane to earn his 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus.  It is not Judas alone – but an attachment of soldiers (quite a few according to the other gospel accounts.)  But that’s what I’ve always known…but notice the last sentence: “They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” 

Do you see the great irony?  Loaded with torches and lanterns, they go seeking for the One who is the Light of the World.  How many lessons are here?  I don’t know, but here’s a few thoughts:

FIRST: it is easier to see light in the darkness.  It would have been easier to find Jesus if they had put their own lights out long ago and heard the seen the message that was Jesus.  “The light shines in the darkness” John had written.  He wasn’t in hiding.  The darker the night the brighter the light shines.  On this night, the light was at its brightest, even as darkness raged in the flickering shadows.

SECOND: they carried weapons.  We know they had at least one sword among them – and almost certainly, many more than one.  But the deadliest weapons they carried that night weren’t swords and spears, but hatred, prejudice, learnedness, jealousy and envy.  Those are the weapons that take lives away from the living and leave them as walking corpses! 

THIRD: Jesus was not in hiding.  They didn’t need to search for him.  They didn’t need the lanterns and torches to find him, not really.  Lanterns and torches are merely aids to help feeble human eyes to get past the darkness, to be able to apprehend what is at the edge of our vision.  What is it that we bring when we search for Him?  Are we bringing armfuls of human creations, human reasonings as we come looking for the Light of the World?  Would we not be better to come, as the old song put it: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling”?  What we need most to bring to Jesus is not the light of human mind or thought, nor even human will, but to simply bring our darkness and the night of our blighted souls to Him to be seen and healed by the Light Himself.

PRAYER:  God, we are so evil and wicked.  And sometimes we come to Jesus armed with all sorts of human creations, even those we have made to make ourselves look or seem more presentable to You.  Help us to understand that what you wish us to bring to the Light of the world is our darkness, to leave it with Jesus and to remain in the Light all the days of our lives.  Forgive us for our foolish pretension and prideful arrogance.  May we come to you humbly in our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/3/17 – Don’t Blame the House

DayBreaks for 2/03/17: Don’t Blame the House

I sometimes wonder what is going on with our country and the world. It’s not a pretty sight, no matter where you look. Things are dark and foreboding, broken and breaking down further, it seems. It is discouraging and it seems like everyone is looking for someone – or something – to blame.

John Stott, from Great Britain and one of the leading Reformed theologians before his death in 2011, had these challenging words to say to the church today:
“You know what your own country is like. I’m a visitor, and I wouldn’t presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
“Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, “Where is the light?”
“If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, “Where is the salt?”
“If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there’s no sense in blaming society. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the church?”

Are you looking for someone or something to blame for the way the world is today? Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been looking in all the wrong places.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on us, your church, for not being salt and light and influencing the world around us for good! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/28/16 – Awaiting the Light

DayBreaks for 11/28/16: Awaiting the Light

Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent. Maybe this year it will hold special meaning for us all.

For millennia, the people of God awaited the Messiah, hinted at in the garden of Eden, prophesied about to Abram and many others in the Old Testament. None of those lived to see the Messiah (called the Light in the gospel of John) when He showed up. In fact, for almost all those thousands of years, darkness seemed to prevail and dominate. Yet the people of God never gave up their hope.

Advent is a time of hope. We are reminded of the long period of waiting from the time the concept of a Redeemer first appears in the Old Testament until the birth of the Christ child. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Hoping against hope, His people were often filled with despair and cried out to their God.

Is it all that different today? We read of atrocities in the middle east, just this weekend we heard about a shooting in New Orleans. We have many in our country who are terrified and horrified about the outcome of the election as they fear the future. Some of those are brothers and sisters in faith.

We should let this time of Advent remind us of the long period of waiting before the Light appeared – but He did appear even as it was foretold. God’s people were vindicated to have never lost their hope. We remember that at Advent.

But that’s not all that we hope for, is it? If so, we’re hoping for something that’s already happened and we don’t need to hope for it any longer.

We who are of the faith should also at Advent hope in the fact that the Light will come again. It was prophesied – as was His first appearance. The first hope was rewarded and met with its fulfillment – and our hope will be, too. We hope, in spite of all the events in the world, that this may be the day when the Light shines once more.

This next time that the Light appears, however, will be different than the first. In the first He came as a baby in a manger. In the second He will come as the victorious King of Kings. In the first He came to show us what the kingdom looks like. In the second he will bring the Kingdom in its fullness. When He came the first time, He knew He would have to leave and there would be a second coming. When He comes this next time, He will never leave again. And once He comes this next time we will never need to hope again for all wrongs will be righted, all injustice will meet with justice, all struggles and strivings will cease…forever.

This is the hope we celebrate on this first week of Advent. It hope it is your hope, too.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord Jesus for the sure hope that we have in Your coming once again! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/10/16 – A Significant Variation

DayBreaks for 11/10/06: A Significant Variation

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006: (Galen is traveling again)

Genesis 1:3-5 (NIV) And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.

I love the book of Genesis.  I’m so excited because I started teaching a new Bible study on it just last week.  So many of the great stories of the Bible, and really all of the great themes of the Bible, are found in the book: creation, light/darkness, the fall, Messianic expectation, sacrifice, compassion and grace and mercy, Lordship, faithfulness, covenant living, redemption, forgiveness, and on and on and on. 

But I recently was fascinated all over again by the creation story itself.  When we talk about a 24-hour period of time, we speak in these terms: “I’m working day and night.”  If someone asked you what constituted a day, you’d probably say “Twelve hours of daylight, 12 hours of night,” or something very similar.  Yet in chapter one as it tells the story of God’s creative genius, all six days of creation repeat the sequence: “And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.”  Do you see it?  Evening comes before the daylight, night before day.

“So?” you say.  “Big deal.”  Maybe you’re right.  But I don’t think that God put anything in His Word that isn’t intended to show us or teach us something.  The “day” in Genesis starts with night, and ends with the close of a period of light, when a new day starts again.  So what’s the point?  Day #1 started at a time when mankind couldn’t have worked or done anything if we wanted to.  It starts with darkness…a time when God alone can work.  And when we sleep.  Then, we wake up each morning and we can see what God has been doing all night.  He’s been preparing the sun to ride across the sky again, for the earth to continue spinning on its’ axis, for the plants to refresh the oxygen and break down the carbon dioxide. 

But there’s more to it than just that.  God works in the darkness of our lives, when we can’t see our way.  And perhaps that gives new meaning to the oft-quoted verse from Psalms 30:5 (NLT) – His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.  From the reading of the text of Genesis 1, it appears that God pronounces His work good once the light has shone – after the night when He’d been so busily creating. 

One more thought also occurs to me: it was dark as Jesus hung on the cross, and it was morning when He arose.  Again, we see God working in the darkness, again it was for our benefit.  And He was doing work that we could not possibly do for ourselves.

May His Light shine upon us, and when He and we see what He’s been doing in our lives, may we echo God’s words: “It is very good!”

PRAYER: Father, at times the night seems do deep and dark.  We are frightened by every little sound, every creak of the floorboard.  Help us to remember that You never sleep, You never slumber, and that You perhaps do Your greatest work in the darkness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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