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.

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18 – There Was No One There

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18: There Was No One There

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Have you ever felt absolutely and totally alone?  I am not the kind of person who minds being alone – in fact, I rather enjoy it…most of the time.  But when I worked in high tech, I traveled a lot and there were many times when I’d go to a strange city (or even a strange country) and loneliness would settle over my soul like a shroud.  There are many places where loneliness raises its head and comes to sit next to you.  Once it arrives, it tends to stay.

Some of the loneliest places I’ve been read like a list of places most folks would like to visit: Ireland, Sao Paulo, London, and in America, Mississippi and Alabama.  I don’t know why I felt so alone here in the US, but when you’re in a foreign country (even one like Ireland or England that speaks my native tongue) you can feel desperately alone.  Without my family, my wife, my dogs or friends, loneliness haunts like a spectre.  The more foreign, the greater the haunting.

The story of Gethsemane is one of the most painful stories for me to read in the entire collection of Scripture, and having been there, is even more painful to me.  It appears to be the time of Jesus’ greatest loneliness, with perhaps the exception of the cry of dereliction from the cross itself.  Anticipation of agony is oft times worse than the pain we anticipate.  I wonder if it was that way for Jesus.

In his novel, More Like Not Running Away, Paul Shepherd wrote: “I’d always known, in one place in my throat, how Jesus must have cried in the garden—crying not to die, because there was no fear of death, and not to leave his friends, because he walked alone, and not to suffer, because the blood and bruises and thorns were part of his perfection—but crying because he could not find his Father’s face, because when he would suffer all that he could bear, the pain of every person, living and dead, in that dark moment, there was really nobody there.”

Jesus truly had no peers to swap celestial stories with.  He had no one on the planet who understood what he faced just in a matter of hours.  There was no one else who truly understood the weight of the world’s sin as it came and settled on him like a hot blanket on that Palestinian night.  If ever anyone was in a foreign land, it was Jesus.  If ever anyone found “there was really no one there,” surely it was He.  “We esteemed him smitten by God…” 

For all who have ever felt loneliness, for all who have ever felt that there was “no one there,” take heart in knowing that Jesus has been to that desolate place before you.  And no matter how alone he felt at the moment he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he soon proclaimed with great confidence: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit!”  In the midst of his massively heavy aloneness, He still had confidence in the Father He knew and loved, and was supremely confident that the Father saw and loved Him and would not ultimately let His Holy One be abandoned. 

Dare we hope for the same assurance?  Absolutely, for His Father is our Father and is unchanging.

PRAYER: Fill our loneliness with the confidence of Jesus that we may, in childlike trust and faith, abandon ourselves into Your hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/12/18 – The Message of the Torn Veil

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DayBreaks for 3/12/18: The Message of the Torn Veil

As I write this, a couple that is very dear to me is traveling in Israel, visiting the “holy” sites and seeing with their own eyes where the incredible stories from the bible took place. I am so excited for them – after having been there twice myself, I am dying to go back – and would do so again and again and again. There is something about being there that truly makes it “alive”. You sense more than ever the price that was paid for your sin, the gratitude for what happened in that holy city reaches a fever pitch. It changes you.

Recently I was reflecting on this passage: Luke 23:44-46 (ESV) – It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Having been in Jerusalem, I can picture the sky darkening in mid-day (notice it doesn’t say that clouds were the issue – it says that the “sun’s light faded” – that’s a miraculous occurrence). I have been on top of the temple mount and tried to picture what happened there when the veil was ripped into two (and we are told elsewhere it happened from top to bottom, indicating it wasn’t of human doing).

I have thought before of the significance of that tearing. Because the veil was there to separate the Presence from the people (it covered the entrance to the Most Holy Place where only the high priest was allowed once a year) I always assumed it simply indicated that that which separated God from man, the sin blots on our souls, had been opened so we could have access to God. And I do believe that is true, and certainly part of the meaning. But I think there was more to it, too.

A sign of deep grief for the ancient middle east (and even in some places in the modern age) is the rending, or tearing of one’s garments as a display of the anguish of heart and soul of the one grieving. It’s one thing to see the holy city and imagine the darkness. It’s another thing to see God’s heart being torn in two because of what was happening on the cross – his beloved son dying an unworthy death and of the price being paid for our forgiveness. We often think that grown men don’t cry because they are big and tough. Well, there’s nothing and no one bigger and tougher than God, and yet I think that the tearing of the veil not only represented the opening of access to God through the blood being spilled on Calvary, but also the tearing of God’s heart. The fact that it was torn from top to bottom mimics the way ancients tore their clothes in grief – and in this case, it very clearly means that God was the One who was doing the tearing. 

We don’t often think about the anguish of God. But doesn’t it make sense that if we are anguished by the brokenness in the world and by the death of our beloved friends and relatives, that God was anguished even more than we? He is perfect – in wisdom, knowledge, justice – but he certainly must also be perfect in his emotions like love, compassion, mercy – and even perfect in his grief.

We will never know the pain in the Father’s heart. We could never fathom its depths. Could it be that the sky darkened as the pain multiplied exponentially with every sin laid on the sinless one, until finally God could bear it no longer and the veil torn because of the anguish of God?

PRAYER: We often think of the anguish of Jesus on the cross, Father, but I fear we seldom think of Your anguish as You beheld that scene. May we rend our clothes in anguish over our sin that caused You such pain and turn to You in sackcloth and ashes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/12/18 – The Spirit and the Wind

DayBreaks for 2/12/18: The Spirit and the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

John 3:8 (NIV) – The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Without a doubt, the aspect of the Trinity that we know the least about would be the Spirit.  Even His name, “Spirit”, seems strange and mysterious to us compared to Father or Son.  We long to lay our eyes upon the Father and upon the Son, but how often have you heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until I see the Spirit!”

As you probably know, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma.  It’s translated as breath, wind, spirit.  In John 3:8, it is the word that Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit.  That just makes it all the more mysterious, don’t you think?  You cannot see the wind itself, but you can see its effects.  So it is with the Spirit.  Jesus says the wind blows where it decides to go, and so does the Spirit.  The wind can be gentle or powerful, so it is with the Spirit.  It is interesting to me, that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is introduced, and as the KJV puts it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” – just like the wind that moves over land and sea. 

I have been focusing a lot lately in my life on trying to see and perceive God more clearly though the things that He has created.  Sometimes my eyes are covered and I struggle to see Him in things, but at others, I wonder if I sometimes go a bit too far with my perceptions.  We live in a time when we have a scientific explanation for everything, where even the human genome has been fully mapped, where earthquakes are no longer believed to be an act of God (or the gods to the pagans), where eclipses are understood to be naturally occurring celestial events rather than a sign of displeasure from on high.  Solomon said that “to everything there is a season” but modern man in all our supposed wisdom, says “To everything there is an explanation.”  Something great has been lost, I fear.  Mystery has been subsumed by the mundane and de-mystified.

Here’s my point: what if, just for sake of conjecture, we were to think of the breeze, the wind as being the Spirit passing by instead of being caused by competing areas of high and low pressure in the atmosphere?  After all, the wind and Spirit are used interchangeably in some Biblical texts.  Maybe it isn’t just the movement of air molecules that brushes your face when you step outside today – maybe it’s the breath of the Spirit, or the caress of His hand as the Spirit moves around you. 

Would that not be a better way for us who are believers to think of the wind?  While I’m not possessed of enough wisdom and insight to know whether or not it is true, Scripture says that the Lord will never leave us – and where the Lord is, the Spirit is.  And if we were to start to think of the wind as the Spirit every time we sense the breeze, if we let it draw our thoughts to God would we not be better off than explaining it away as just the difference in atmospheric pressure?

PRAYER: Sometimes, Lord, we listen too much to science and not nearly enough to Your Spirit, that we confess is mysterious indeed to us.  Teach us through the things that You’ve created, capture our imaginations and hearts anew with the awe and wonder we once knew as little children, and direct our thoughts toward You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/09/18 – The Promise of a Father

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DayBreaks for 2/09/18: The Promise of a Father

Sometimes just re-reading a verse opens a new universe of thought. In my quiet time, I’m trying to not force any issue or hear a specific message, I’m just trying to hear what Jesus was saying – and beyond that, to the meaning of what he was saying.

Just Thursday morning as I was reading in John 14, I ran across this verse: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:18 (ESV)

Wow. Did you catch the import of that verse? Let me share with you that my dad passed on to glory a bit over 20 years ago. I suppose that one could say that as far as an earthly father is concerned, I am now an orphan – and how I wish that were not so! It’s not that I think my dad wanted to leave me, but he did. His heart would not allow him to live here indefinitely and it finally gave out. But his absence, my “orphanhood” if you will, it is the reality of my daily life. My dad was amazing – not sinless, but a man of extraordinary character and integrity. But, he’s no longer here. It is an uncomfortable thing to feel like an orphan. Jesus says that I am not an orphan.

Some are orphans because of the death of parents, others are orphans because they were unwanted – their parents abandoned them. That must be even more painful than being an orphan by death. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be “unwanted” as a human.

Jesus wants us to know that being unwanted will never be the case with us, either. We will not be orphans in either sense, for he will come to us.

One simple verse…but Jesus wants us to really “get” this. We are not orphans. We will never be orphans. We have a Father who loves us and will never abandon us. Now – with that thought in mind, go have a great weekend!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for being our forever Father, for this promise that we will never be orphans in this universe! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 10/6/17 – Come Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 10/06/17: Come Sit With Me

From PreachingToday.com:

In his book The Pressure’s Off, psychologist Larry Crabb uses a story from his childhood to illustrate our need to delight in God through adversity:

“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.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I don’t know about you, but I know that I need to spend more time sitting on the floor next to God and listening to Him, letting Him delight me with His Presence.  That last thing I need to do is run out and play some more.  Time grows short – and the mind turns from games to more important matters.  If you have been praying for God to do something for you and He hasn’t, in His wisdom, done it…try sitting on the floor with Him for a while.  I don’t think we’ll regret it if we do.

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to slow down and stop scurrying all over in a frantic search for entertainment.  Help us to see when You’re trying to tell us to just sit quietly with You.  Give us the patience to stop running away from You to play all of the time!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.