Published: Thursday, 25 February 2021 16:32
Written by Don Goulding
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalms 131:2) (NIV)
In the shade of a date palm, a Polynesian mother held her precious two-year-old at arm’s length. A vee shaped wrinkle spoiled the toddler's brow. He swung a fist, but the mom caught the impact in her hand, and cooed assurances.
“Sorry, precious boy. No more milk. It’s time for real food, so you can grow big and strong.”
Later, as the first stars found the sky, the pair sat side by side. The mother stroked her son’s face. They shared a new and deeper bond. The child was weaned. He chose to love the giver, and live without the gift.
There were blessings in this life I expected to receive. When they were withheld, my heart grew dark. I didn’t see that God tried to move me on to richer blessings.
Father knew that when I was done with my whys, my accusations, and my fists, I’d fall into the peace of new knowledge. I’d love the giver more than the gift. That’s the only kind of love that will carry me out of Christian infancy.
It’s distressing to realize that as a middle aged ministry professional, I still respond to losses like a two-year-old weaning from mother’s milk. My old nature refuses to focus on what I have in God, instead of what I’ve lost of the world.
God never takes something from us unless he holds out something better. But, that something is often eternal and not temporal. My little, baby, narrow self refuses to look to anything better than what I can see, taste, or touch. So God has to force the weaning, and I drag it out for painful years.
It’s time to let go of my loss, seek out God’s replacement, and grab hold of that larger blessing.
Prayer: Father, grant the peace of surrender to you.
Published: Monday, 15 February 2021 17:18
Written by Don Goulding
An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin. (Psalms 36:1-2)
In the expanse of our universe the only real estate where I’m sovereign is in the space of my mind. I may influence my world, but I don’t have the final say. Even my body is subjected to restrictions. But in my head, I’m free to do as I please. No one contradicts my private thoughts. I can fantasize in any direction I choose.
Inside my little kingdom, I’m always the hero. Ineptness and weak character are dubbed endearing personality traits. Sinful contemplations run opposite the reality around me, and I don’t police my conclusions. I’m too proud to recognize and give up the sin hidden inside my head.
Even on the rare occasions I try to clean up my brain pollution, I can’t do it. My only hope is to deed my mental real estate to Jesus. Let him remove the rubbish. With his word, he rakes my ungodly thoughts. With his role model, he readies piles for destruction. With his love, he burns what doesn’t belong. I’ll give him ownership, then move aside like the renter that I am, and watch him work.
When Jesus has made some progress with my thoughts, I’ll have no room for self-righteous judgment of others. He does all the work. I’m left with nothing to do but beg for grace for myself, and others.
The hard truth is that I’m not a king. Not even in the space between my ears. Jesus is the only Sovereign in the universe, and it’s time the tiny bit of acreage in my head stops living in rebellion.
Prayer: High King Jesus, clean up my thoughts.
Published: Monday, 08 February 2021 17:31
Written by Don Goulding
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11) (NIV)
The tornado was a prodigious exit for Elijah. I say this because, while working with an evangelistic team in the U.S. Midwest, I encountered some bizarre twister tales—live chickens plucked, horses relocated while still hitched to a post, and straws of hay driven into telephone poles. There is awesome power and irresistible mystery in a tornado. The fury of acres of storm condenses into a single column. It annihilates some homes and passes through others without disturbing a splinter. Thus, God safely took Elijah up as a way of pointing to the devastation, and protection, of his funnel of love.
There’s a hungry whirlwind zigzagging across the world today. It’s the tornado of the Holy Spirit blasting through the hearts of people. Here is a concentration of love so potent it sweeps some into the presence of God, purifies others, and destroys still more. My own response to this onslaught of one thousand mile an hour love has been … inconsistent.
Often, I run to the cellar crying, “Woe is me. I’ll be consumed. Hide me, fast.”
I hide from an encounter with the might of God. In doing so, I also miss out on the love of God.
Other times, I want only a peek at the phenomenon. Deep down, I panic at the risk of personal loss. It would be fine if it blew across my farm without changing anything. Perhaps a neat miracle or two would be okay, so I can join the conversation with chasers.
Now and then I catch sight of the truth that destruction of the old self leads to spiritual reclamation. Gentle breezes lifting layers of dust from my heart will never get the job done. I need a tornado. Like Elijah, I run into the Spirit’s vortex, spread my arms, and let him sweep me into union, heedless of the cost to my old self.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, I repent of hiding and peeking. Make me a chaser.