Don Goulding - Blog

Trading Places

He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
 
Jesus left the glory of heaven for the purpose that I might enter it. He went homeless on earth to give me a mansion in paradise. Refused hospitality in many towns, he ensured my permanent welcome into the New Jerusalem. And by relinquishing his rights of sonship he legalized my adoption forever.
 
Nails in Jesus’s hands and feet, thorns in his head, gasping for air as his lungs collapsed, he voluntarily endured crucifixion so I will never know those agonies in hell, which was my due for treacheries against God. He silently accepted the abuse meant for me—tied to a post, whipped with shards, spit upon and jeered. He was stripped naked and his head was beaten with a rod, and that is exactly how the demons would have treated me for eternity had Jesus not taken my place.
 
The humbling shame of Jesus when spread eagle before the public replaced the embarrassment I would have suffered when every secret is exposed on judgment day. After a lifetime of insolence and apathy my sins filled many pages in the books of heaven. Before the angels and humans from all history, the list was to be read aloud and the images replayed. But when the books are opened, my every sin will be lined out with the red blood of Jesus. My public shame is shifted to the Lamb of God while his virtue flys to me.
 
Jesus lived a sinless life, and when he was done, he laid the robe of his righteousness around my shoulders. He took up my ugly guilt and, though his nostrils burned at the stench, he pulled it over his head. He wore my filth, I wear his purity.
 
Prayer: My blessed Lord Jesus, thank you for trading places.
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Sweet Hunger

Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey! (Psalms 119:103)
 
A cooking fire smoked up the inside of the dirt floored restaurant in Nigeria. 
 
“What’s that?” I pointed at the morsels remaining in the serving bowl. 
The Africans consulted one another about how to convey the answer in English. “The goat’s … testicles.”
 
As a missionary, I’ve been served all kinds of delicacies—caterpillars, chicken feet, fish eyes. Some of it went discreetly to a neighbor and some went into my mouth.
 
I recall a long day in Fiji when we finally got to eat raw sea urchins in lime juice and coconut milk. It was marvelous, like the strong food of royalty. Proof that when I get hungry enough, anything tastes good.
 
My hunger for God’s word operates the same way. When ease fills my life, prayer and Scripture often confuse and bore me. When my life is in the grip of trials, I fall to my knees and plant my face into every word from God. These appetite extremes only level out if I admit that the ongoing pettiness in my heart means I need to ingest grace every day.
 
Jesus said he is the bread of life because we need bread anew each day. Yesterday’s portion no longer fills me. I’m famished for new grace, fresh words from him, today.
 
Ahh, the sweet word of God. When sin’s guilt gnaws in my gut, nothing is more delicious than spooning one of David’s psalms about forgiveness into my mouth. Or when I’ve felt a void of direction and God pushes just the right message from the letters of Paul or the red inked words of Jesus past my lips, nothing else satiates. Whatever hunger attacks, Father holds out the comb dripping with the amber honey of his truth spoken to me.
 
Prayer: Sustaining Jesus, may I taste your words today.
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Two Gifts

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, along with all their multitude of stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You impart life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6) 

 
Thump, thump, our cat charged across the floor after an imaginary mouse and I couldn’t repress a grin. It was a comic burst of life from an otherwise inert pet.
 
Thank you, God, for frisky cats. A lot of smiles would disappear from the earth without them.
 
“Ooh, ahh.” A friend peeled swaddling to reveal her newborn baby. The ruby mouth stretched into a yawn all of one inch across. The elixir of life was doubly concentrated in this tiny infant.
 
Hallelujah, thank you, God, for babies. We’d be so much less without them.
 
A spray of water shot from the emerald sea near our boat in Alaska—the exhale of a thirty ton humpback whale. After several breaths, her tail fluke, with a deep vee on the left side, rose then slipped under the surface. The creature returned to a forest of kelp and sardines where she thrives with her calf.
 
God, you didn’t have to create lifeforms in such wild diversity but you did and it is glorious. Thank you for whales that play beneath the waves. I can’t imagine our oceans empty of those mammal cousins.
 
On par with God’s incalculable gift of life was his second gift of reclaimed life. His initial invention was too brilliant to let it go after mankind despoiled it. It’s true that nature lies defaced but the heartbeat yet pounds and Jesus has come with a plan for renewal.
 
My participation in the gift of life doesn’t have to end here. I’m given a window of time to align myself with God’s solution. Cats, new babies, all creation will be remade, very soon. Until then, heaven and earth watch to see if I’ll worship God for his two most mind-boggling gifts—birth and rebirth.
 
Prayer: Blessed Creator, thank you for the gift of life, and for your plan to reclaim it.

 

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