Don Goulding - Blog

Bow Wake

Yet Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

We drove our car onto the public ferry and sailed across the Strait of Juan de Fuca toward Canada. Leaning over the rail, my son and I spotted a half dozen otherworldly creatures. Black and white Dall’s porpoises took turns riding the bow wake. Their torpedo shaped bodies exploited the bulge of glassy current displaced by the ship’s prow. They’d found a magic spot that launched them forward, just ahead of the massive crushing hull. This went beyond survival instincts into the realm of animal fun.

Jesus rode the bow wake. Like the Dall’s porpoises, he knew a sweet spot that reenergized and launched him forward. It was time spent in prayer in the wilderness—that was his bow wake. He stilled his mind, reached out his soul, and surfed with the heart of God. He went there frequently.

Now it’s my turn to navigate this life. Jesus and the porpoises have shown me where to find joy and power. God’s unstoppable sovereignty churns toward his chosen destination. Out in front of that glorious might is a bubble where I may jump in and find safety. Only in this sacred place do I know the exhilaration of Jehovah’s irresistible power and find rest from mans’ tiresome effort. The name of this secret place is prayer. It’s crazy to think that little, insignificant me can plant myself in God’s path so he’ll notice me. How preposterous to believe I can change his direction and ride his might without toil on my part. And yet, there it is, this glassy, surging bubble called prayer.

I’m invited to plunge in headlong and discover the thrill. This wild place is not work, it’s not an onerous burden I must drone out. And it’s not a mere survival tactic reserved for disasters. It’s fun, an awesome privilege and a joyous thrill I find in no other place.

Prayer: Father above, let me ride the bow wake often.

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Undone

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5) (NIV)

 
For the first time in the history of their midsized city, Chinese Christians from the underground church gathered by the hundreds to fast and worship through the night. Cell groups that had never met took turns leading the prayers. For the first hour, a group led us to pray for the ten million inhabitants of the city. Another house church took over the second hour and we prayed for the province. As the night progressed, cells led intercession for the country of China and finally over all the nations of the world.
 
In spite of our secret location, the risk of arrest was high with so many people converging at one time. Consequently there were no lukewarm Christians present, only those who valued this historic unified worship more than freedom.
 
God honored the devotion of his Asian children and his Spirit filled the large room. Some laid face down, some wept, nearly everybody raised their arms to heaven. As the only Westerner, I couldn’t understand the urgent prayers but the words didn’t matter. Nothing mattered accept Jesus. I was undone. We were all undone.
 
My wife knits. One time she used the angora yarn from one of her completed projects for something different. Row by row, she pulled the fuzzy yellow threads out of a sweater that had taken dozens of hours to make. In the underground gathering, I felt like that sweater. The presence of Jesus pulled my life apart, row by row. My past fell open, my accomplishments unraveled, my place in society lost relevance.
 
Confirmation bias is the thought process wherein we only accept affirmations of our previous beliefs and refuse to hear facts that might dispute our conclusions. It leads us to build our lives on suppositions rather than on the truth of God.
 
The cure for confirmation bias is a thorough undoing by the majesty of Jesus. More than a one-off encounter, I must learn to live undone, now, before it happens at the judgment seat. What I’ve accomplished, my culture, the popularity I seek—I need these to unravel so the Lord can make me into something new.
 
Prayer: King of Kings, help me to live undone before you.

 

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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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