Bread – Insides

September 12, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, September 12, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 29:1, 30:1-2,16-31; Acts 14:19-28; John 11:1-16; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

—————————————-

In the reading from Job today, we find him focused on how his insides feel, and how hopeless his illness and difficulties are making him feel. He begins with “And now my sould is poured out within me; …” Job 30:16. How often have we felt like our soul, our inmost self, is just leaking away somewhere inside. Instead of being poured out in worship or in good deeds or in love, we sense that our soul is just leaking away into never-never land. Enthusiasm wanes, excitement dims, the light of our soul fades … and it is all poured out within us, making us empty and poor of spirit.

Job also discusses other parts of his insides. “The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.” Job 30:17. Chronic pain in the neck, in the back, in the legs, in the arms, in muscles, sinew and bone. Chronic pain, the pain that gnaws me and takes no rest. Job describes it perfectly. And how I feel stiff in the morning, like my bones have been on a rack. Yes, Job’s insides are a mess, and I can identify with him. His insides don’t feel good; in fact they feel bad.

Job also discusses, indirectly, the problem with our insides (and our outsides) getting fat – Isn’t this the perfect description of the creeping clothes’ sizes: “With great force my garment is disfigured; it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.” Job 30:18. My insides have gotten so big my clothes just don’t fit!

And all this leads to turmoil on the inside, in our soul, our mind, and our heart. Again, hear the words of Job – “My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me. I go about darkened, but not by the sun…” Job 30:27-28a It is the insides which are messed up. It is the insides which are all mixed up. It is the insides which are dark. We are ill prepared for the external afflictions because our insides are not right.

And when our insides are in disarray and in darkness, there is not help from others. As Job points out, while he is feeling this way he notes that he is related to “jackals” (people who will pick on him to get the last morsel of life) and is a friend of “ostriches” (people who stick their head in the sand). When Job’s insides are in turmoil, his perspective of the outside world is that no one cares and no one, including God, is willing to do anything except make matters worse. We know this is not the case, but our insides have such an influence on our view of reality, when our insides are messed up we can see or hear nothing clearly.

It is the state of our insides which affect our outsides. It is the state of our insides which will determine our outsides.

In John today, Lazarus has died and been buried in the tomb for four days. In translation, this means that he was truly dead. Jesus restores him to life, saying these words which transform the world: “I [Jesus] am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26.

When Job was miserable, he was examining his insides from his perspective. When Job had hope, he was examining Jesus (“I know my Redeemer lives”) from inside out. When Job had wisdom and peace, he was living in God and looking at his insides through Jesus’ lenses.

We can remain inwardly focused and be overwhelmed with our insides, our internal afflictions. We can turn outwardly focused and see the Savior. We can “live [in Me] and believe in Me [Jesus]” and be healed of death of the soul. Our soul looks all messed up through our eyes, just as it looked messed up through Job’s. When we live in Jesus, abiding in the vine, we can look through Jesus’ eyes, past our present circumstances, and into eternal life.

How do we get from point A, where we are mired in ourselves, to point B, where we celebrate freedom from death? We must answer the question which Jesus posed – “Do you believe this?” Do you believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that, if you live and believe in Him, you will never die?” Do you believe in Jesus? If so, let His power deal with your insides while you live in Him. He can and He will.

—————————————————–

© 2012 GBF

Bread–Disabled

June 22, 2012


Readings for Friday, June 22 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Num. 13:1-3, 21-30; Rom. 2:25-3:8; Matt. 18:21-35; Psalms 88, 91, 92

—————————————-

I am shorter than many men and, at least in a football game, this can be a major disability. Apparently, Israel suffered from the same disability. In Numbers today we read “However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large … ‘We are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we are…The land through which we have gone to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height…we seemed to ourselves as grasshoppers…’” Num. 13:28, 31-33 (emphasis added).

Moses had sent twelve men, all chiefs of their tribes, into the promised land to spy it out before Israel entered it. These spies were sent out to find out if there were reasons for Israel to be worried and they came back, saying essentially “yes, there are things to be worried about.” One of the big issues these spies pointed out were that Israel suffered from a disability, being short, compared to the people in the promised land.

And, of course, if you have a disability then there are some things you can’t do. Like enter the promised land. Like enjoying the fruits of the blessings which God gives us. Right?

God told Israel that he was giving them a land. They are right on the edge of possessing it. God tells Moses to send out spies into the land but does not say what the purpose of the spies is to be. Perhaps God intended that the spies do nothing but check out the length, breadth, and height of the blessings which God has in mind for them. However, Moses does not instruct the spies to do just that. No, in the spirit of man and the world he asks the spies to also check out what problems there might be.

We are promised things by God all the time. We are promised joy, peace, rest, love. We go check it out. And we come back with a report to ourselves, not about the blessings but about the problems, the difficulties, the hurdles, the costs, the burdens, the impossibility. We look at our disabilities, at our shortness, and we say we cannot possess the land, we cannot take the blessings, we cannot participate fully in the gift.

Well folks, we all have disabilities, we are all disabled. Perhaps some can point to an obvious disability, such as a medical or psychological difficulty, economic circumstances, lack of education, etc. But we are all short of the mark, we all fall short, we are all sinful. Isn’t our sin, self-centered nature, our desire to be a god the real disability?

Yes, the people “over there,” outside our circumstances, are stronger, faster, smarter, better, taller, wealthier, and better off than we are. But we make a bad comparison when we compare ourselves to them.

The reason it is a bad comparison is that our God, Jesus Christ, does battle for us. It is He who has won the victory, not us. We just get to share in it.

See, the comparison is not us versus them, it is them versus God. And who wins that fight?

In spite of the negative report, Caleb, one of the spies, said to Israel “Let us go up at once and occupy it [the promised land], for we are well able to overcome it.” Num. 13:30.

God has set before us today the riches of His kingdom to possess – these are not riches of gold but riches of life. Are we going to sit and nurse our disabilities, or are we going to “go up” and get out and possess the good land which God has given to us?

Christ died for us so that our disability would be transformed through His ability into eternal life. Because of what He has done and, through the Holy Spirit, will do as we abide in Him, we are indeed “well able.” Seize the day.

—————————————————–

%d bloggers like this: