DayBreaks for 7/10/19 – Awake During Open Heart Surgery

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DayBreaks for 07/10/19: Awake During Open Heart Surgery

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

How much pain can one person carry?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that I’ve had very little pain in my life compared to millions and probably billions of other humans who have lived on this blue marble.  I can hardly imagine anyone, though, who perhaps bore so much pain as the ancient hero, Job.  His suffering was emotional, financial, mental, physical and spiritual.  I don’t know anyone else who has lost as much as Job did (especially his children!)  The pain of losing just one child would be unbearable…but try to imagine losing all 10 at once.  And for a time, Job, we are told, said and did nothing amiss.  Then, he finally seems to break.  But it wasn’t the loss of the flocks, herds, buildings.  It had nothing to do with his financial empire.  He didn’t even rail against God when his children died.  I’m sure that wasn’t because he didn’t love them – he surely cared a great deal about them.  No, Job seemed to “lose” it when he felt God has slipped away and left him alone.  It was then that Job began to struggle.  It was then that Job came face to face with a darker side of his nature than he’d probably realized existed. 

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason wrote: “Being a believer in God necessarily implies grappling with the dark side of one’s nature.  Many of us, however, seem to be so afraid of our dark side that far from dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it.  If we do so chronically, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures.  Perhaps we have never frankly come to grips with the fact that we ourselves are evil.  If we have not, then we are ill prepared for those times when believing in god is like being away during open heart surgery. For our Creator is not yet finished with us; He is still creating us, still making us, just as He has been all along from the beginning of the universe.   But for the short span of our life here on earth we have the strange privilege of actually being wide awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts…the only anesthetic is trust…trust is not a passive, soporific thing.  When there is stabbing pain, trust cries out.  It is only mistrust, fear and suspicion that keep silent.”

Your life has had some level of pain.  I am frequently asked “Why?  Why is there so much pain involved with being a Christian?  You’d think that a loving God would do everything possible to spare His children pain!”  There is a certain rationale to that argument.  But I think it misses the point that Mike Mason makes: God is doing open heart surgery on us – our hearts MUST be changed if we are to live forever.  If they are not changed, we will die of our fatal condition.  No one does open heart surgery just for practice or for the fun of it.  It is only done when it is necessary to save or extend a life.  We are awake during the process.  

If God doesn’t do His surgery on our heart, we will most certainly die.  There will be pain.  But would any father not allow the pain in order to spare the life of the child?  Certainly, a good father would agree to have the child operated on so that the child could live.  The pain is part of the process of healing and being made well. 

What makes the surgery on our hearts bearable at all?  Trust.  Trust that God is reliable and doing what is not only good for us, but necessary for us if we are to live with Him in His home.  Belief that God knows precisely what is needed in your heart and mine – and that He will complete the work that is necessary.

PRAYER: Though this surgery is painful, Lord, we open our hearts to You and invite you to do what is necessary to make us fit to be Your children and to live in Your Presence throughout all eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/21/19 – The Certain Reality of Love

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DayBreaks for 06/21/09: The Certain Reality of Love

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

They say that only death and taxes are certain.  Well, there is some truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth.  There are other things that are certain, too, whether everyone wants to admit them or not: God’s Word is sure and certain, Judgment Day is real and will certainly happen, God’s promises are certain.  I’m sure that there are other things that are certain (they all have to do with God in some way or form – except for taxes, that is!)  What has struck me recently (probably given the episode with Casper that I described in yesterday’s DayBreaks) is the certainty that if you love something, love will break your heart.

As I held Casper and watched him go limp in my arms and his eyes dilate, my heart was breaking.  Why?  This was only a dog, after all.  But I love this scamp of a dog with all my heart.  And it hurt to think I was going to hold him as he died and that he would be gone.  I pleaded with him to come back, to not go away.  Perhaps the reason he came back wasn’t because of my CPR, but because God heard my desperate plea not to take Casper away while he’s still such a young dog.

If you love another human, you better believe there will be hurt and pain and heartbreak.  Vast loads of it.  Cascading mountains of it.  Not because we set out to hurt those we love – we just do it anyway through our thoughtlessness, our selfishness, our busted human nature.  On the day I promised Laurel that I would love, honor and cherish her until death do us part, do you think for one moment that I ever intended to cause her so much pain in the years we’ve been married?  Never!  But the truth remains that I’ve caused her pain, my children pain, my friends pain, my co-workers pain…and my God pain.

I have sometimes wondered why God created love knowing it would be so painful.  Eventually I came to the point of view that God didn’t actually create love because love existed before He created anything.  It existed in His very own nature, and in the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  So God didn’t have to create love – it always has been because He always has been.  Perhaps that is also true of faith and hope, given the fact that Paul said that long after tongues and other things have passed away, three things will remain: faith, hope and love – with love being the greatest.  All of those things, I believe, are as eternal as God Himself because they find their Source in Him.  He is faithful, He hopes for His creation (including us), and He loves all He has made. 

Nonetheless, as I contemplated the certainty of a broken heart because of love, I was drawn once more to the cross and the broken heart of God over our waywardness.  If we feel pain so much over the possible loss of a dog, how much more does God feel pain as a result of things we, the objects of His love, do?  Perhaps His pain over our sin is as infinite as His love.

Prayer: Lord, I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused You – the One who loves me more than anyone or anything else could possibly love me.  Forgive me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 6/04/19 – In the Beginning

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DayBreaks for 6/04/19: In the Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Do you know which book of the Bible is widely considered to be the oldest?  You might be tempted to think it is Genesis, because it deals with beginnings…and next to John chapter 1, it takes us back to the oldest events that ever took place in the time and space of this world.  But that doesn’t mean it was the first of the books which was written.  Moses wrote Genesis, and Moses lived somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 B.C. 

In answer to my earlier question, most scholars (I do not count myself as such, so I’ll take their word for it!) believe that the book of Job is the oldest book we have in Scripture.  No one really knows for sure how old the book is, or when or where Job lived, although guesses on all three accounts have been ventured.  But there is generally unanimous agreement – there is no older book in Scripture. 

What’s the big deal about that?  In and of itself, nothing.  But when one considers the subject matter of the book, it becomes rich with meaning.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted: “It is fascinating to think that as we open this text we may be faced with the earliest of all written accounts of a human being’s relationship with Yahweh, the one true God.”  I would hasten to add to Mason’s comment by noting that it is intriguing that it deals with pain and suffering the believer faces in his/her relationship with God. 

In the beginning (in the sense of being the oldest book in Scripture), we see a man of like passions unto us – and we can immediately identify with him.  He’s a man who works, has a family, a home, friends – and who faces struggles and disasters on a scale that perhaps (hopefully) none of us will ever experience.  We get to watch this ancient saint wrestle with his faith, his friend’s understandings of God and causation, and even with God Himself. 

Mason also noted: “Many reject Jesus, but no one rejects Job.  Rather, the world respects Job, and not with the grudging respect accorded Christ, but with a deep affinity untinged by reserve or fear.  In the eyes of the world Job is less a saint than a comrade in arms.”

I accept Jesus as the Lord, but I struggle to understand him.  It is, in some ways, difficult to identify closely with a sinless God in human skin.  But Job?  Now that’s another story…I can identify with him much more easily.

What should we make of all this?  For me, it says that I need to live my life as an open book, revealing myself not as a prince on a white horse, but as a battered and bruised human.  When I do that, I can point others to God because they will first of all be able to identify with me.  If we as Christians portray ourselves as “holier than thou” and better than others, will people identify with us?  No.  They will resent us.  This is perhaps the greatest danger of hypocrisy – that others won’t be able to identify with us, and through hearing about what Jesus has done to remove our sin and guilt (though we are still masters at sinning!), they won’t give us the time of day. 

So the earliest book deals with pain and suffering and relationship to God.  How fascinating that the newest book in Scripture (Revelation) deals with the removal of all that suffering – but with an even deeper relationship to God, all accomplished through the blood of Jesus!

Prayer: While we thank You for Jesus and what You have revealed of Yourself through Him, I also thank You for stories of sinners like me, who find even in the midst of the greatest struggles in life, that a relationship with You is not only possible, but is the only thing that survives in the end.  Help us be open books to those around us, that people may read of Jesus in our lives and deeds.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/28/18 – God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

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DayBreaks for 11/28/18: God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Romans 8:28 (NASB) – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

My daughter can do macramé – you know, that weird bit about cutting and folding a sheet of paper so that it resembles a swan or some other animal.  I have to admit, while she’s in the process of taking the piece of paper and beginning to fold it, I can’t start to imagine what in the world she’s making.  As she folds away in a meticulous fashion, I remain confused.  It isn’t until the end of the process that I can see what she was making, but I couldn’t begin to replicate what she’s done.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had this to say (chapter 4:16-17, NIV): Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Our first reaction to verse 17 is to think that Paul has totally lost his marbles.  “Light and momentary troubles”?  Are you kidding me?  Try telling that to the mother of a special needs child who requires 24-hour care, day in and day out.  Try telling it to the young man in the wilds of the hills in Afghanistan, or to his wife who struggles to raise 3 kids without his presence.  Try telling it to the person who has once more been diagnosed with cancer – after having beaten it once.  “Light and momentary,” you say?  Harumph. 

But Paul nonetheless claims it is so.  How can he say that?  Well, he says that, in God’s bizarre carpentry shop, that it is those very troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs those very trouble.  The word for achieving in the Greek means, “to make possible”, “to bring to pass.”  Paul says, that somehow (and this is way beyond me!), that our troubles from this earth will make possible our eternal glory.  I think it works like this: what is earthly must be torn down and removed so what is heavenly can start to be built.  It’s like tearing up a bad street to create a new paved one – until the old is torn out and removed, the new can’t be put in place.  And the troubles we have in this world are designed to encourage us to let go of this world and its attractions so that new, eternally glorious things can be put in their place. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Paul says the troubles are “light”, from the Greek, elaphros, which means “easy to bear.”  They are easy to bear only when we keep our perspective.  What is here is light (not of much weight) and temporary (of short duration).  What we await is an eternal glory that “outweighs” them (the glory is HEAVY, but not a burden) – and eternal.  Here’s Paul’s point: not all the troubles of this world are of greater weight nor longer duration than the glory of heaven.  That’s a perspective worth keeping!

Prayer: Lord, we don’t understand how You do it, but we thank you that our earthly troubles make possible our eternal glory.  The next time we are distress and in deep trouble, may we remember Paul’s perspective, and lean hard into eternal things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/16/17 – Places You Never Knew Existed

 

DayBreaks for 6/16/17: Places You Never Knew Existed

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

On June 4, I was blessed (for the second year in a row!) to participate in a fund raiser for a nearby mission that provides shelter, training, food and spiritual guidance to many who have lost their way in life.  They do a great work, and each year they do a fundraiser that is called Extreme Golf.  On that day, those of us who have signed up to raise pledge money, go out and run around a golf course like crazy people, with the goal of playing 100 holes of golf in 8 hours or less.  What a thrill!

But now (this was written on 6/6), I have been reminded of lessons I learned last year during this event:

FIRST: Sometimes people hurt in places you never knew existed.  My body has aches and pains right now that I didn’t have on early Monday morning before the event.  It’ll continue that way for a few days, I can tell.  People all over hurt – and the greatest hurts aren’t in the physical body, but in the heart and mind of humanity.  Perhaps the greatest hurt of all is hopelessness – when people have been so beaten down that they have given up any idea of it ever getting better.  That’s when many are willing to finally accept Christ because they have learned that nothing else works.  But unless we’re on the lookout for signs of pain in people (wincing and groaning have been my signs the last few days!) we will likely pass by them not even realizing they’ve been beaten.  But heaven have mercy on us if we know they’ve been beaten and pass by anyway.

SECOND: Pain is good.  It is a reminder that we are alive and not dead.  Dead people feel no pain.  We shouldn’t give up on people who are in great pain.  They’re still alive and pain can lead to changes. 

THIRD: Pain is also a reminder that we are to become like Him in His suffering.  I don’t think that is specifically referring to physical pain, but that may be a part of it.  Paul, in Philippians 3:10 put it this way: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…  In our hurts, suffered for the cause of God, we become like Christ.  And God certainly knows how much I need more of that!!!!

There is pain all around you.  There is pain on the golf course, in your school, in your work, in your family – and yes, in your church.  The world is awash in pain.  All we have to do is open our eyes and see it.  Will you take the risk of joining Christ in his sufferings for the world?  You don’t have to travel to India or the Congo or Peru, all you have to do is open your heart and eyes, and you’ll see it.  The question is: what will we do about it?

I’m eager for this event to come around again next year.  May I be as eager to bear pain for Him all year long.

PRAYER: Father, let us become like Christ – willing to bear any burden, to carry any suffering – for the privilege of becoming like Him in His death, so that we may also attain unto His resurrection.  Help us to be sensitive to the pain of others and do all we can to point them to the One who can, and will, heal all hurts some glorious day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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