Don Goulding - Blog

Hunger

IMG 0714Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9) (NETFull)

“What are those children doing in the harvested fields?” I said.

“They’re the youngest of their families.” Our host navigated her Jeep down a dusty African road. “In times of starvation, the older members eat first. Those little ones are trying to club mice for food.”

I could hear pain in the reply coming from a missionary who gave her life to help orphans, and saw no end to the need.

The children in their rags stared at the dry billows behind our car. We had what they wanted.

I’m hungry, too, but mine is soul hunger. My table is meditation, my fare is Scripture, prayer, and God’s voice. I indulge in dessert of inspirational music. 

In spite of this intake, I’m never satisfied. I chew a promise, it spikes a rush of joy, is digested and gone. I’m still hungry, craving more.

Jesus has his eye on the children of the field. Still, many of them will depart this earth with their hunger.

I’ll depart this earth with my hunger. Together with the children, we’ll ask God to fill us. We’ll appear before the King to feast and drink aged wines. We’ll break into song, dance around the throne, and absorb God-love. Filled in every way, we’ll fall into a laughing tangle and bellow through our hysterics, “No more pain, emptiness, or hunger.” 

Then we might get up and revel again—not because we’re hungry, but because of the overabundance from the Lamb, who promised, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.”

Prayer: Jesus, fill me and the children at your banqueting table.

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Over-Churched

As he said this, he called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” (Luke 8:8)AsleepAtMass

Woe to the over-churched. That was me. God saw me sitting in the pew, wrote a razor-sharp message, and handed it to the Spirit. The Spirit breathed into my pastor’s sermon and it flew from the pulpit. The words arced through the air, hit my eardrum, and bounced onto the floor.

I’d been practicing A.S.D. (Auditory Selective Dullness) for years. Raised in the pews, the effervescent words of life were poured over me before they had meaning. Jesus is the blah, and the blah, blah, blah. It’s a malady I fight today.

As I got older, I determined God was for retirees and recluses, and I reached for the highest numbers on the fun-o-meter. But such living never brought joy. My truest desires weren’t greeted at the door, let alone invited in to satisfaction.

Behind the temporal games I hid a longing to touch the Progenitor of life. I wondered if the enormous life in Christ lay in grasping the true meaning behind all those churchy phrases—washed in the blood, dead to sin, sanctified by grace. They were so much white noise in a preoccupied head.

One morning I woke and there beside me lay the instruments needed to open the tired phrases—a Bible, prayer, and a desperate heart. With the tools, I pried the trampled walnuts until they burst open to reveal emeralds of hope, fire-blue sapphires of love, and diamonds of truth. ‘Christ in me’ was no longer a ho-hum by-line, it was my oxygen. The words were the same, but the power exploding out of them woke me from the stupor I’d called life.

From time to time I still feel over-churched, but I attend so I can squeeze the old terminology for all the brilliant reality it will yield.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, dynamite my crusty heart with fresh understanding.

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Symbiotic Grace

1d527dc481af86d00cb1e3c0cf1f8749Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that Godʼs kindness leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4) NET

“They’re called ‘cleaning stations,’” A friend who SCUBA dives said. “They are locations on the reef where cleaner shrimp live. Fish stop, open their mouths, and the shrimp hops inside to clean the teeth.

“I tried it, too. I removed my regulator and opened my mouth. The little guy jumped in and worked on my teeth with a feathery touch. When I exhaled bubbles, he jumped back to his rock.”

This is another of nature’s symbiotic relationships where two creatures help each other. The shrimp gets meals delivered to his doorstep, and the guest gets free dental hygiene.

There is also a symbiotic relationship between grace and repentance. Grace inspires us to repent from rebellion. At the same time, repentance opens our hearts wide to receive the cleansing of grace.

Jesus didn’t die for our sins so he could merely sneak us into heaven. He cleansed us so he can inhabit our hearts and change us from the inside out—grace and repentance working together.

While they are symbiotically connected, there’s a vital distinction between grace and repentance. Grace is a cause while repentance is an effect. God’s grace initiates our reconciliation, then we respond to his kindness with repentance. 

Grace takes hold of the hand of repentance and they walk together, because wherever you witness saving grace, repentance is not far behind.

Prayer: Lord God, I celebrate the union of your grace and my repentance.

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