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Archive for April, 2017

“Then God said,
“Take your son,
your only son, whom you love
—Isaac—
and go to the region of Moriah.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.””
Genesis 22:2

Whenever I read the story of Abraham being tested by God, my first thought is,

“I wonder how it would have gone if God had tested Sarah?”

Could a mother:

whose womb was empty beyond the age of human possibility,
who became pregnant as an old lady,
who felt her son’s movements in her womb,
who used more strength than she ever thought possible to push him into the world,
who counted his perfectly formed fingers and toes,
who nursed him at her breast,
who looked at his sleeping face willing that memory to be forever etched into her memory
who cleaned his scraped knees

… pass this test …SarahLaughed

I was reminded of the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube). Although the account of this test that God gives to Abraham in Genesis never mentions Sarah, the mini series version depicts the mother-heart of Sarah in a way that I could relate to.

In this made-for-television version, Sarah realizes that Abraham has gone, with Isaac, to make a sacrifice to God.

Now these sacrifices were not anything new! At least as far back as the time of Noah, who, upon exiting the ark that had been the floating home of he and his family for forty days, and forty nights, “built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it” (Genesis 8:20). Leviticus 17:11 says, “for the life of a creature is in the blood,and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

Blood, the source of life, for the sins of living.

So, when (in the mini series) Sarah realizes that Abraham has taken her son to the mountain, to offer a blood sacrifice, yet with no lamb to slaughter, she chases desperately after them.

I do not know if this happened.

I do believe that if she did, and if it were significant to the message that God wanted for us from this story, it would have been written there.

Perhaps, there is more value in there being no account of Sarah in this story. Perhaps, what God wanted was for those of us who are women, who are mothers, to ponder:

could we …

would we …

do we …

place God before all …

even our children?

*this is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have captivated me since I first heard it as a child.

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I am a conundrum!

I love change, live for it really. Yet, I adore the safety and security of what I already know.

There is an energy that comes from making a change in ones life. It makes the heart beat, widens our eyes and keeps us on our toes.

Yet, change can also create palpitations, fear and anxiety. It can make one yearn for monotony.

When I read verses such as, Isaiah 43:19:

“I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” 

I think to myself, but my current situation is not a wilderness or desert. I like what I know, and feel protected by the predictability around me.

But then there is Hebrews 11:8:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

He just went, without a clue as to his final destination …

Nothing written about fear or yearning for safety and security.

He just obeyed.

He just stepped forward.

 

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“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.”
Ecclesiastes 1:5

As I awake each morning in spring, I open my eyes to the discovery of how much light is pouring into my bedroom. Each day there is change, each day getting brighter, bringing with it the joy of a new day with more daylight.

After arising, my next discovery is in looking out my kitchen window, which faces East. From there I view the sunrise scene of the day. The mornings I stand there the longest are the ones when the sun’s rays are pouring through the trees, as if they cannot contain themselves any longer.

This spring has brought few sunny mornings, yet I still awaken with the same anticipation.

It has happened before, so I seek it.

That makes me think about the presence of God in our lives.

Sometimes we are so aware of his presence in our lives, it is almost tangible, it is simply undeniable. Many times, though, we do not feel his presence so keenly.

Yet, I still awaken with the same sort of anticipation.

His presence has been felt before, so I seek it.

I am also aware that on a dark day the sun is still present, just hidden by the clouds, God is still present, even when I cannot feel him.

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Sleep in Peace

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“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.

And if I should die, before I awake,
This I ask, for Jesus sake …”

This is a short prayer that sometimes plays in my head as it rests on my pillow at the end of the day.

I can close my eyes and be in my young childhood bedroom, with my mom or dad at my bed, praying this simple prayer. I am not sure if it happened every night, or sporadically, or just once, but the memory of it is clear.

Even today, in my forties, I receive a measure of peace simply by thinking it in my head, for it resides, not only in my memory, but in my heart.

The final line, is not the final line.

“This I ask, for Jesus sake …”

was followed by God bless …” and then I would list people in my life.

Though ever so simple and wrote, this nightly prayer keeps much in order.

  • it is a reminder that God is the one we should reach out to at the end of our day.
  • it is the submission of our souls to the hand of God.
  • it is the acknowledgement that the number of our days is not guaranteed nor know to us.
  • it is the delivery of others into the care of God.

Maybe it is the best of prayers for a good night sleep.

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IMG_0274If I were to say “look up, look way up,” you were probably a child, growing up in Canada, during the 1950s-1980s, who watched The Friendly Giant children’s TV program.

That favourite childhood show has had a lasting effect on me, for when I look at something that is tall, those five words instantly come to memory.

I often wish I had realized the value and power of repetition when my kids were younger. There is no way of erasing some of the things I was repeatedly exposed to in childhood. The memorization of Bible verses, nursery rhymes and songs. The little sayings my dad would repeat.

It is interesting to me, each time I “look up, look way up,” that there is such a profound lesson in those five words.

A numer of times in the Psalms, there are verses about God looking down from heaven, in search for someone who is wise.

“The LORD looks down from heaven on humans to see if anyone is wise, to see if anyone seeks God” Psalm 14:2

If he is looking down, we must need to look up (look way up). 

Perhaps, it is when we are in a position of looking up, that we are in the posture of one who is wise … or at least of one who is in search of the origin of wisdom.

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30

look up, look way up

 

 

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I-Saw-That-God

Ever caught someone doing something that they thought was done in secret?

I remember a day when I stood at the front doors of the high school I work at and I observed something that a student thought was done without anyone else seeing.

A student, with numerous, very real struggles, was waiting for his parent to pick them up, after school. Another student came along, with a bag from Tim Horten’s. As she came closer to the boy they made eye costact and they smiled at each other, then he looked down at his feet. When he diverted his eyes from hers, she looked instantly saddened, disappointed. She then stopped in front of the boy, and offered her bag, filled with some sort of sugary treat, to him. He looked up, surprised, then smiled. She smiled back, said something to him, and walked away smiling even brighter.

What she did will never win an award, a job, a good GPA.

What she did, was not to raise her profile or position.

What she did will never even be incorporated into her resume.

To her knowledge, it was simply an interaction between two individuals, and her payment was the smile on the boy’s face, which was all the payout she needed.

But, her actions were seen, and not just by my inquiring eyes.

Matthew reminds us of the value of doing things out of the eyesight, and limelight, of others :

“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself … When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either … Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”
Matthew 6:2-6 

“The focus will shift from you to God”

I love that line!

Our world notices, awards and sits on a pedestal what they see … fair enough. But God, can and does see everything … the good, the bad and the ugly. He sees us, and knows our hearts. He sees what we do in public and in private. And his reward is the presence of his grace in our lives.

God wants our hearts to be in tune with his, not for our earthly benefit, but for our eternal walk with him.

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“Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again”

The sun arose.

The dark of night was being extinguished by the light of the new day.

It was Sunday.

The Son arose.

The dark sin of death extinguished by the light of the world

In Hebrew, the name Jesus means god saves. Through his sacrifice of death and separation from his Father, then the resurrection on the third day, Jesus, the son of God, saves us even this day.

This is the day of celebration for he beat the power of death. Not just to show himself, risen, but so that we too could, through his sacrifice, overcome death.

Though we still live in a world of darkness, of sin, heartbreak and loneliness, we are never alone, and we have the power, strength and companionship of the the one who conquered sin and death.

This makes for a better eternity, it makes for a better today too.

death

You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King”

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