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Friday, August 14, 2015

Everything has its limits --- except one

All things continue today because God's care and watchfulness keep them in this state of continuing.  It is a little known or appreciated fact - this idea of God's breath animating the world around us, keeping the things in alignment within the universe, making the tides swell and recede.  The very watchfulness of God should give us encouragement in the dark times when we think there is nothing going as it should, or the walls of stress seem to be closing in around us. There is nothing which exists, or continues in existence (and this includes us), which doesn't do so because he has made it possible for it to exist!  

Lord, your word continues forever in heaven. You are loyal forever and ever. You made the earth, and it still stands. All things continue today because of your laws. Like slaves, they all obey you. If I had not found joy in your teachings, my suffering would have destroyed me. I will never forget your commands, because through them you gave me new life. I am yours, so save me! I have done my best to know your instructions. The wicked tried to destroy me, but your rules made me wise. Everything has its limits, except your commands. (Psalm 119:89-96 ERV)

Suffering is part of life.  We are not exempt from the troubles of life which occur by being inside a human body subject to the aging process.  We aren't going to escape the winds that blow, the waters that rise, or the fires which rage - their effect may not be immediate to us, but they will ultimately affect something in our lives.  We might attempt to navigate around traffic jams on our way to our destination, but even the best GPS cannot save us from the fact people occupy space in front of us in their vehicles, on similar journeys as we may be on, crawling along at a pace slightly faster or slower than our own.  

Everything has limits - except the power and purpose of God's Word.  His commands have no limits.  They are meant to support us when we are troubled by the things of this life, build us up when our strength is waning, and restore us when our minds are fatigued by the many pressures invading our emotional space.  Destructive forces are around us on every plane - God's Word is the one thing which will make us wise enough to avoid what can be avoided, embrace what cannot, and walk away stronger.  The truth will always be the same - God is loyal forever and ever.  Now, try as we might, we cannot define "forever and ever" because the words express a lack of beginning or ending.  It is like when we say our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west - immeasurable distance exists between us and our sin once Christ is invited into the midst of our lives.

David's remedy for life's challenges is to lean hard into God's promises and commands - to find direction, solace, and strength within the instruction laid out there for each of us.  Find joy in God's teachings and you will find the "remedy" which keeps you even when there seems to be no deliverance or end.  It is more than memory of scripture (although there is merit to hiding God's Word within our minds).  It is more than frequent time in the Word (although we cannot learn from God's Word without the sacrifice of time).  It is more than a Bible-reading plan for the year (although it might focus us a little).  It is deep, intimate, drawing close to God's heart time which gets God's Word into us in such a way it will keep us when life's challenges head our way.

As a mother, I used to enjoy those times when I would sit and read a story to my kids, them drawing up to me close and listening intently.  They'd run their toes up and down my back, twist their hair around their fingers, nuzzle their teddy, and run the tiny truck back and forth across the bed.  But...something happened in those moments of just "connecting" with each other.  We found closeness and bonds which cannot be broken because of this connection which occurred often and with regularity.  Now I continue this with my grandsons - although we may not read as much anymore, we can talk about the building block creation, the creative ideas they have, and the observance of tiny bugs they saw creeping through the garden that day.  In those moments, connection is made - connection which cannot be broken despite the pressures, pulls, and prevailing winds of time.

We don't recognize the importance of just sitting to enjoy God's presence until we haven't had it for a while.  We don't miss what we have not realized is missing until we finally "miss it".  The adage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", is indeed true.  To "miss" something, one has to have drawn close and experienced it in the first place!  Too many times we have a cursory appreciation of God's grace - but when we experience the depth and breadth of his grace fully - we don't want to ever be separated from the way that makes us feel.  God's plan is for us to experience him - so that his words get deep into our being - affecting the depths and crags of our inner being every place the world has tried so hard to affect it with the pressures it brings.  The world adds rocks, sand, and even immovable objects in our path - but even with those present, there is room for grace to invade the spaces those things cannot!  Grace has no limits - there is no space it cannot invade!  Just sayin!