Don Goulding - Blog

Addicted

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But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

I’m addicted, and I need my fix. Every day I sneak away for one-on-one time with the Creator of the universe. How could a frozen wanderer give up that patch of sunshine? Should I let deadlines, or travel, or guests invade our intimacy? Call me obsessive, but I’ll contrive a way to get what I crave.

It’s not that I’m disciplined—I’m desperate. When it comes to fighting temptation, I’m as weak as a trembling schoolgirl. Without a daily breath from the Lord, I’m sure to faint. So I draw near to him and inhale every morning, then I pray that puff will stay inside me all day.

Some years ago, the Lord led me to read two books by Christian role models who told how their lives changed when they had devotions at 5:00 a.m. I groaned and made a half-hearted commitment to try it. I didn’t set an alarm. The next few mornings I found myself awake at 5:00 a.m. and rose for my devotion time. Previously boring Scriptures now rang in my heart. On my face prayer emptied me of self, then filled me with the Spirit. Abba Father honored a sacrifice of time set apart while the world slept.

After several years, a new threat crept in. My mornings became disciplined for discipline’s sake, not for the Lord. Jesus wants obedience in joy, not a habit in drudgery. He knows I can’t live without our meetings, so now he sets the day’s schedule, which sometimes includes more than one quiet time.

That’s the secret compulsion I can’t shake. Inside my prayer closet, God gets on his knees, puts his mouth to my ear, and whispers his message. It’s an addiction I’ll never fight against.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for coming to me each day.

Holy Wrestling

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So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until daybreak. (Genesis 32:24)

Jacob’s opponent was an angel representing God himself. Some people wrestle with God their entire lives. I’m one of them. 

“It is not wise to resist the Almighty,” our mothers tell us. 

Bless you if you are made that way, and can run straight to submission–we must all get there. I can’t seem to do it without a fight.

As Jacob’s account continues, we learn the fight was rigged. The angel held back supernatural power until morning. In a sacred moment, he put Jacob’s hip out of joint, then spoke a blessing over him. Jacob needed to be tenderized before he would receive his anointing–so God allowed him to wrestle.

A cord passes from this Old Testament event, through the intervening pages, to a passage in the New Testament. “… continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort - for the sake of his good pleasure - is God.” (Phil. 2:12, 13).

My salvation is not a thing accomplished, from which I skip away, clapping the dust from my hands. I must labor at even the small bit of sticking to my acceptance of his gift. Yet, God is in the ring, wrestling, not against me, but for me to accomplish the salvation he desires. He is so bighearted he allows me to think I’m fighting him when, really, I’m fighting me. I’m up against my own fleshly nature, needing victory over temporal distractions.

God eggs me into this wild, holy ruckus, and I can’t resist. I jump into the fray, bloody my nose, laugh, and, once I’m fully tenderized, beg for God’s blessing. He is happy to bestow a peace over me that is sweeter for the tussle. 

God doesn’t mind that I’m a fighter.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for letting me wrestle and win in surrender to you.

Garden Friends

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And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

A wealthy father had three beautiful daughters. He named them Faith, Hope, and Love.

The winsome lady, Hope, now waits in the garden of my mind.

She calls to me, “Why cower in the shadows with the hags, Fear and Doubt? Turn your back on those weeds and be my friend. I want to bring promises to your remembrance.”

Hope’s conversation energizes weary bones. She has the bounce of youth, and I love to explore the depths of her wit. In fact, my most pleasant hours are spent in the sunshine with Hope.

It’s fun to say her name, Hope. The definition of hope is, “A desire of some good, accompanied with an expectation of obtaining it.” 

The Apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, we are Godʼs children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed, we will be like him.” To be like Jesus is surely our “desire of some good.” It’s our expectant hope.

Hope retells how Jesus came to rescue me, and how much God cares for lost ones. Her timbre rings with laughter as she recounts what will be in paradise. Her poise and grace make me realize how well their Father raised these sisters.

It’s refreshing to spend time with this effervescent friend, and if I ever get bored with Hope, she has two engaging sisters ready to talk.

It really does matter whom I choose as garden friends.

Prayer: Jesus, help me think worthy thoughts.