Posted in encouragement, hagar, love

Our tender and loving Jesus

I love to preach about Jesus’ wrath against sin. He is so holy, I enjoy pondering that attribute of His, and to think about the justice He will render in rectifying the universe when He banishes all sin from it.

But I also love to think about His love and tenderness. These are aspects of Him too. There are many tender moments in the bible where Jesus is directly involved in the lives of His people in a loving way. Here are a few.

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Jesus cares for the oppressed: Hagar

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Hagar was a slave woman, poorly used.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. (Genesis 16:1-4)

It was a common practice. That doesn’t make it any easier. The verses continue in 5-6

And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

So even worse, the situation between the women inflamed with emotion, as it is wont to do when there are too many women in the tent, and not enough men. And worst of all, Abram washed his hands of it. Essentially he said, “What-evah,” and went out. When Hagar fled, she went into the desert. The Angel of the LORD (Jesus) intervened and encouraged Hagar. First He told her to submit to her mistress. Then He promised her that her son would father a great multitudinous nation.

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Some years went by and Hagar was poorly used again. In Genesis 21, Isaac was born and Sarah was triumphant. She told Abraham to cast Hagar and the boy out. And Abraham did. He gave her a skin of water, a bit of bread, the boy Ishmael, and said “See ya.” And sent Hagar to the desert. When her water was gone, she put the boy under a bush because she could not bear to watch him die, and cried out to the LORD. The Angel of the LORD (Jesus) came again, and encouraged her, and prophesied to her.

for I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 21:18b)

What care Jesus takes for the oppressed and those who piteously cry out! He sees.

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13).

Jesus hasn’t stopped doing that. He sees. He intervenes. He cares.

Our Savior is the God who searches hearts.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, because he was THE Teacher of Israel. (John 3:10). We all know what kind of relationship the Pharisees had with Jesus, and the relationship that Jesus had with the Pharisees.

Jesus called them serpents. (Matt. 23:33). He called them dead graves (Matt. 23:27). He said they were blind guides, and fools (Matt. 23:16-17). He said they made sons of hell twice as worse as they were. (Matthew 23:15).

Yet when Pharisee Nicodemus came to Jesus, Nicodemus was not called those things. Jesus was not angry. He was patient. He listened. He knew what was in Nicodemus’ heart! He is the God who searches hearts!

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And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23b)

He led Nicodemus to the Truth, He received the man who the Father sent, and in no wise did Jesus cast him out. He is a loving God, who sees hearts.

Here is a third scene of tenderness.

Jesus loves the sinners, brokenhearted, downcast. So many people think that one must be good before you turn to Jesus. Many people think that if they make a mistake, they will be sent away from Jesus. Neither are true.

He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12).

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’” (v. 13). (Matthew 9:9–13)

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15).

When Jesus was arrested and was being hauled all around town to different trials, in three different settings, members of the crowd asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. We know what Peter did. He said “No!” three times. Peter denied even knowing Jesus, in front of many people, just as Jesus had said Peter would. (Matthew 26)

And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74)

Imagine the guilt! The self-hatred! Peter had been the spokesman for the Disciples for three years! He was fervent for the Lord in the Garden, going so far as to cut the ear off the High Priest’s servant! (John 18:10). And now he denied even knowing Jesus.

No wonder he wept bitterly.

But our tender Jesus did not leave Peter there in that state of guilt and bitter gall. He restored Peter. He met Peter in a private meeting after His resurrection, (Luke 24:34). Jesus also restored Peter publicly. (John 21:15-19). He asked Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus. He publicly restored Peter, and gave him a charge: “Feed My lambs.”

We have a tremendous God. Jesus is loving, holy, patient, kind. He searches hears, is kind, and cares for the oppressed. He is due all glory, and honor, and love. But He is also our friend, and our Father. We cry, “Abba!” and know that He is forever our holy and loving parent, caring for us intimately and personally. How deeply grateful I am, we all should be, for this gift. The gift of Jesus.

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Posted in autism, encouragement, love, patience

The positive aspects of having an Autistic/Asperger’s person in your congregation

The puzzle pieces in the autism awareness ribbon
represent the complexity of the disorder,
as well as the diversity of people
living with autism. (Wikipedia)

As an autistic person, I often wonder about God’s plan for me. I did not come to faith in Jesus until I was 43 years old. I did not learn I was autistic until I was 48 years old. I’m 53 now. As I progress in sanctification by God’s grace, sometimes I’m relieved to know what is “the matter” with me, and other times I’m frustrated because I wish I didn’t know.

All people sin all the time but most people have a particular sin that they need God’s daily help to conquer. For example, I don’t covet. I don’t care about ‘stuff’ that much. Therefore I’m not especially mired in that sin, while others covet constantly. Some people struggle with wanting alcohol, and battle a daily temptation. In these cases, it is to the obvious glory of God that we can resist, thanks to His Holy Spirit. What we cannot accomplish on our own, Jesus helps us with as our High Priest,

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

With me, it is love. Autistic people are not known for empathy, and feel and express love differently than neuro-typical people. Our brains are literally wired differently.

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-V) defines autism in part as a person having

deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, and deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships (source)

Because relationships and emotions are so difficult for us, we’re also loners. This need to be alone isnecessary survival mechanism, because we take in all stimuli and can’t screen any of it out. Neuro-typical people readily and unconsciously dispense with incoming stimuli that they don’t or won’t need. Their brains do that automatically. Ours don’t. So it all comes in.

not a lifestyle preference. It is a

Being among lots of people (and to me that means more than one) who talk at varying volumes, wear different colors, speak at different rates, and all incomprehensibly too, is just overwhelming. It’s easier to stay home and be quiet. Some Sundays, attending church is easier than others. On the tough Sundays I have to make myself go, and I come home exhausted and sleep for hours, and I’m groggy the rest of the day with what I call Aspergers residue.

Yet though I’m wired not to love in the same way as others and dislike being among people, I must love and be among people. Why? Jesus said so. It’s that simple.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:39-40, cf Galatians 5:14)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:10-11)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

So you see, it is a necessity to do the things I’m not wired to do but to do what Jesus demands anyway. Sometimes I wonder about the difficulty of being wired not to do the things that He commands us to do but then I realize that in so doing, HE gets the glory.

If I can usually not do these things on my own steam, and yet I do them, it should be obvious that it is the precious Holy Spirit sustaining me and my wonderful Savior enabling me. Romans 12:9a says,

Let love be genuine. …

The NLT says “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them….”

If an autistic person can really love a person deeply then wouldn’t it be to the glory of Jesus that He enabled me to do this?

So I focus on the positive. He made me this way so I can give Him glory by being grown in the Spirit, and I can edify the Body with the particular personality that He knit in me operating in the gifts of the Spirit. I focus on the positive rather than bemoan, “Why am I like this?” That answer is simple too, because God wants it that way.

On the plus side, an autistic person’s penchant for always telling the truth, if combined with the Spirit’s deliverance of the gift of exhortation, is literally a match made in heaven. A further plus is that we are already on the edge of the social milieu, and we don’t mind telling the truth even if it means rejection. (It hurts, but our allegiance to the truth dominates, and this becomes full-flower when Christianity enters the scene).

All autistic people have one life-dominating special interest, and mine is the bible. That means I study it relentlessly. This subject is also a relief to me, because all man-made subjects eventually are exhausted. I’ve gone through King Arthur, (teens), heraldry (20s), mollusks (30s), and journalism (40s). But I will never exhaust the bible (50s—>eternity). We have good memories, so remembering past discussions in class, a sermon from a year ago, or a bible verse comes more easily to us. In this way we can often knit a larger truth or set something in context for ourselves or in discussions.

We generally don’t care if a person is rich, poor, socially high-end, or down and out. We mostly care that a person listens when we have something to say. That’s it. We truly live out James 2:1, showing no partiality.

There are pluses for neuro-typical people to have an autistic person in the congregation and there are pluses for an autistic person to be there. Each person in the faith is gifted by the Spirit, as He wills. We function as a unit. As much as we like to be apart, it is not good for us to be so. I’m sure as much as NT people may desire want us to be apart sometimes, it is not good for them either, lol.

Make an effort to be patient if there is an autistic child in the congregation. Say hello to an autistic person in your group, bible study or congregation, (but don’t hug). A simple hello goes a long way. We do not know how to initiate social contact, and the church greeting time is especially hard. There are a great many things we learn to be patient with in church, and I would hope that the NT people would also learn to be patient with us as well. We are one body, learning to function as a unit. With the help of Jesus, we will be beautiful to Him as we grow together, one flesh, one body, one church- but each of us lovely in our own way.

This snowy landscape is beautiful in harmony of the season, but it is made of billions of individual snowflakes. That’s His church, each unique, each filling in their part in the landscape of Jesus’ heart.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)

Posted in encouragement, love, puppy

Happy Puppy

I watched this happy video of a puppy waiting for his boy to return home from school. I’d planned to put it on my other blog as a happy little pick-me-up. But it’s almost impossible for me to see anything and not make a spiritual application, lol. So here it is. First, the happy puppy:

Awww!! So cute! Here is the question I ask us all, myself included. Are we a puppy? Do we show obvious and generous and committed love to people? Do we rush to pick up their burdens? Are we excited to see them? To the point of eagerly waiting?

Just sayin’

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42).

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;” (Romans 1:11)

Posted in God, grieve the holy spirit, love, Trinity

We grieve God, yet He loves us

Man’s sorry history of grieving the entire Trinity is long and sad.

In Genesis 6:6 we read,

Adam and Eve banished, Gustave Dore

And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”

During the incarnation of Jesus, Jesus was saddened to the point of tears over death, (His friend Lazarus), and over His city.

When Jesus was told Lazarus had died, he wept. (John 11:35). Matthew Henry said,

Christ’s tender sympathy with these afflicted friends, appeared by the troubles of his spirit. In all the afflictions of believers he is afflicted. His concern for them was shown by his kind inquiry after the remains of his deceased friend. Being found in fashion as a man, he acts in the way and manner of the sons of men. It was shown by his tears. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” (Luke 19:41)

Matthew Henry again,

“The Son of God did not weep vain and causeless tears, nor for a light matter, nor for himself. He knows the value of souls, the weight of guilt, and how low it will press and sink mankind.”

The Holy Spirit grieves, too.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

Gill’s Exposition says,

And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,…. Not a believer’s own spirit, sanctified by the Holy Ghost, which is grieved by sin; nor the spirit of a good man, that hears our words and sees our actions, and is displeased and troubled at them; but the third person in the Trinity: and this is said of him by an anthropopathy, and supposes something done that is offensive to him; and he may be grieved, not only by unconverted persons, by their stubborn resistance and opposition to the Gospel and means of grace, and by their contempt of his person, office, and grace, but by believers themselves, and who are here spoken to; and which may be done both by their words, lying, angry, and corrupt ones

S. Lewis Johnson said of the Ephesians verse,

Now the New Testament has a word for believers. In Ephesians chapter 4 in verse 30, the Apostle Paul says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. Grieve not.” Now grieve is a love word. Only those who love can be grieved. … Now when we disobey God, whether it be by a sin of omission or a sin of commission, we have grieved the Holy Spirit. That’s the word that the New Testament uses of believers. They do not resist the Spirit. They grieve the Spirit according to the New Testament.

Charles Spurgeon said of grieving the Spirit, “but where is the heart so hard, that it is not moved when we know that we have caused others grief?—for grief is a sweet combination of anger and of love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense.

I feel so terrible having grieved my LORD and my God.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalm 51:1-4)

What an amazing and loving God we have, who came down to us!

A cross in a heart formed with candles taken in Camp Tejas,
Giddings, TX, USA By Wingchi Poon. Wimimedia COmmons

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:8-10).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

God our Trinitarian God, loves us so much, despite humankind’s grief against Him, despite the fact that we personally sin against Him each day. Honor Him by loving Him, resisting sin, and repenting when we fail. By reading His word to get to know Him better, and by praying in communication to Him. He loves His little children. Let us cry out ‘Abba! Father!’ Now that the Spirit is in us, let us not quench Him, resist Him or grieve Him any longer. Let us love Him with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul! He delights in our love for Him!

It’s so hard to fathom that despite the fact that we grieve each member of the Trinity at various times, He loves us so much!

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11)

————————–

Further reading:

Why God Tells Us He Delights in His Children

Three Surprising Ways to Grieve the Spirit 

Why Does God Love Us?

Posted in evil, jesus, love

The rapidity with which the world is descending into chaos is amazing

I’m dizzy. Literally dizzy- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Just in the last 24 hours there has been a terrible terrorist bombing in Boston, a meteor that swooped across Spain and was seen from the north to the south, a series of quakes at Oklahoma and a major quake at the Iran-Pakistan border.

I wrote about the meteor, and a few minutes after that I saw the quakes at OK, so I wrote about them too. Then I went to dress for work and when I checked the news again just 10 minutes later, the quake at Iran had occurred.

Is there any doubt by now that the signs are not coming year upon year, or month upon month, but minute upon minute?

When people say, ‘it isn’t the end because there have always been earthquakes and meteors and signs as described’ they are right AND they are wrong. There always have been these things, to be sure.

The only question that Christians who understand prophecy have, is how long these will be signs and not

Credit: Courtesy Dan Lampariello

judgments. Because the rapture is a sign-less event, not presaged by anything in particular. The birth pangs of Matthew 24 relate to the Tribulation. However, if we can see the solidity of the groundwork being laid for those signs, how much closer is the rapture?

The Christians are not under judgment, we are not appointed to wrath. (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The wrath upon unbelievers will begin in Revelation 6 as stated by those who are left on the earth after the rapture, in Rev 6:16-17. The seal judgments will have been opened, thus signaling the beginning of the wrath. The earth’s population cries out and mourns because of it. (Revelation 6:15-17). The Church will be gone by then.

At some point the Church Age will end, the rapture will occur and the wrath will begin.

Bystanders in Karachi Pakistan after today’s 7.8 mag quake

Until then, remember what Jesus said–

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

And this–

“and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:3-4).

Notice the tense, not that you will overcome the spirits of antichrist who hate. But that you ALREADY HAVE.

Posted in believers, holy spirit, love

Children of hell and sons of heaven, part 2

I wrote on Tuesday about the verses in Matthew 23 where Jesus pronounces woes upon the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said they shut the door of heaven in people’s faces and make sons of hell twice as bad as they are. That was part 1: Children of hell and sons of heaven, part 1

Alternately, I got to thinking about the global church. There are those outside the church and those inside the church. I already talked about the children of hell who are outside the church. Let’s talk about our brethren inside. The beauty and glory of the church of Jesus Christ, His church, His bride, is unparalleled.

We each live in a civil sphere. Part of it is private (our home) and the rest is public (work, school, hobby, recreation, local church). But often we forget that part of that sphere is not just local, but global. It is the Bride of Christ.

Often, we tend to let our mind shrink the sphere of what we see and experience as church is the local body. That is fine. We are to make a laser-point focused commitment to the lives of our brethren. And in our secondary sphere, work or school, we see and engage with believers there too. We live out the gospel by living out the commands of Jesus as we go through our daily lives. Occasionally we may know people in our third sphere, community, who are believers. The checkout lady at the grocery store, the soccer mom who sets up her chair near yours, the teller at your bank. We may love on them as brethren and see them as part of our local church or near set of believers.

Sometimes we get involved with missions or go to listen to a missionary story. Who doesn’t love a good missionary story! I am constantly humbled by their bravery and their commitment, and love to listen to their stories about what God has done in the darkest of places. In those times we briefly think of the believers in other parts of the world but then we go back to thinking about and interacting with local believers.

Should I think of the global church body more often? Yes. I don’t mean only the martyrs in the dangerous places or the people we meet on a conference. I mean the regular old people who love Jesus and go to work and go to school and go to church every day elsewhere in all the other parts of the world. They aren’t radical and they aren’t famous and they just love and worship in their spheres like we do.

Do we forget that we’re connected?

I do sometimes. But kind people remind me.

Very loving people think to send an encouraging email. Or a Christmas card. Or sometimes the Lord burdens them and they send a provision through the mail, a gift card or a check. This week someone sent me a gift they made. I was so amazed by this. I really mean it. Amazed.

4 Coasters and 2 cat toys

My ministry is piggy-backed on the gifts the Holy Spirit has delivered to me. (1 Corinthians 12:11). He gave to me the gift of prophecy, discerning of spirits and teaching. (1 Corinthians 12:10, Romans 12:7). So I write, and speak, and write, and speak. I write on the blog and also occasionally within my church. I speak at my church and occasionally at other churches or venues. I am always seeking to make sure the gifts the Spirit distributed to me are used for His glory.

I’m involved in my church and my public sphere is actually very small. Aside from church twice a week, I go to work and I go home. Once a week I go to the grocery store. That’s it. The sphere of my ministry in the local public sphere is restricted to the local body. The ministry with the blog is wide, but invisible. I don’t see you all on the other end. So though I ‘know’ there are people out there, certainly, because you comment, lol, it can become easy to forget the global body that I’m part of.

With so much falsity rising in the world that we have to acknowledge and deal with, the Lord is gracious to show that there is also much love, also. When someone sends a note or an email or a present it reminds me so vividly of the common love we share. It is a nudge that we are part of a body, connected. Because it is not just the note or the email or the present, it is the time and energy and thought behind it. Someone out there who loves Jesus spent some time developing love and enacting it. This makes the church body across the world thrum.

What?

I envision the global church as scattered across the earth but connected like the strings of string theory and each one is thrumming with love. These strings that connect us glow with a heavenly glow. The harmonic strings that connect us vibrate with a supernatural quality because it is the Holy Spirit who weaves them.

He is always at work in believers all over the globe. He indwells each believer and helps us in our weakness. He convicts of sin, brings to mind the scriptures, molds our character and produces fruit. He is doing this in every believer all over the earth and this is the church. The church is love because it is part of the body of Christ who is the head, and HE is love.

We, the church, is His bride. And it is all about love. Though the false and evil in the world is rising and attacking the church, His bride is unbesmirched. It is indwelled by Holy Spirit, growing in fruits and surrounded by love. LOVE. We can’t see each other all over the place but we are out there. We’re beautiful because Jesus imputed His beauty and goodness to us. He is the Head but it is His body.

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,” (Ephesians 1:15-17).

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” (Romans 1:8)

The faith of the saints and our love for Christ and one another is a glorious thing. We are united, tied with a scarlet thread of Christ’s blood which redeemed us. We love each other when we see each other. We love each other even though we don’t know each other. We love each other when we don’t see each other. The darker the day the brighter our love for each other grows.

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3)

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Thank you all for being my brethren May our Holy God purify us even further so that we may love Him with all our soul, strength, mind and heart, and love one another as neighbors both near and far.

Posted in ecclesiastes, love

Eternity set in our hearts

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Barnes Notes eloquently explains the verse: “God has placed in the inborn constitution of man the capability of conceiving of eternity, the struggle to apprehend the everlasting, the longing after an eternal life.”

If you notice in verse 11 two important things: we endlessly search for eternity, and the search for it outside of God will be futile.

I usually write about facts rather than emotions, and I write less about myself, but in this case I’d like to illustrate the Ecclesiastes verse by sharing something from my life. It is a true praise to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how He draws men to God. (John 6:44). Even though I am ten years post-salvation, I am still acutely aware of how I felt prior to the grace of Jesus descending on me. I remember distinctly how it felt to be searching, ever searching. I even chronicled the search.

I live for information. That is my unique quirk. I love it. I absorb it, connect it, sift it, and apply it. And as for making attempts to understand my own place in the world and my purpose, I chronicled everything I ever did. I obsessively chronicled. I jotted down notes in a calendar that had large squares. I kept scrapbooks with ticket stubs and restaurant napkins. I wrote down where I went and what I did.

Before I was saved, I thought, somehow, that if I chronicled enough information, that a pattern would emerge. I hoped that some previously undiscovered piece of information would drop into place and suddenly I’d understand the mystery, that the puzzle would be complete. What the ‘mystery’ was, I didn’t know. I was looking for understanding of a larger context, not knowledge for its own sake, but searching for the missing piece that would help me make sense of the world. Because the world most assuredly did not make sense.

I would actively think on these things, engage in meta-cognition as to why I was endlessly searching for information, knowledge, and purpose, and chronicle and make little books.

Look what I wrote in one of my little books in 2003 as I neared the moment of repentance at the cross. Mind you, I grew up outside of church and had zero church experience. My father is an atheist and my mother a bitter lapsed Catholic. They hate God. I was raised without any religious instruction and absent any Godly beauty at all. I was clueless as to the Christian terms like salvation and kingdom.

“The world is awesome in its complexity and contains all the customary codes of conduct, a myriad of occupations and vocations, behavioral nuances of every description, emotional obligations, and ethical standards. The world also contains a secret kingdom. It dwells within the common world, but is invisible to nearly all. Only some comprehend this kingdom.”

Now you tell me that He doesn’t set eternity in our hearts. My soul was longing for His kingdom and I knew it was there. I knew it. But where was it?

I had written that quote in a little booklet I’d made. The booklet was a parable of a girl’s journey toward the secret kingdom, which was a journey toward the cross, but I did not know that at the time. I pictured the journey in written form of a girl looking for something. I had written,

“So one day she gathered her belongings and put them into a handkerchief and swung it over her shoulder and went slowly toward the kingdom.”
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I was right to picture the world as a desert. Absent Jesus, the thirst will never be slaked. I had written,

“She flew and flew. She saw the world. She did not know it, but she was looking for something. With all that flying, though, she was always thirsty. She drank a lot of juice. Sometimes she thought it was strange that as much as she drank she was already thirsty again. The juice was just not satisfying.”

On and on the insatiable need for knowledge went, the endless journeying. I wrote:

“Sometimes the girl would tremble in bewilderment. Everything was so complicated! Why was she always thirsty?… She studied all the maps on how to get into the kingdom. She thought about it very hard. Her thoughts taxed her little girl brain. She knew this was necessary. No matter what, she belonged in the kingdom.”

There was only one problem.

After a journey of twenty-four months and forty-two years and three days, she came near to the kingdom. She could feel it, she was almost there! She crossed the river and flew over the hedge…and hit her head! She fell down. She peeked at the hedge again and saw a huge pane of glass. She looked all the way up to the sky and the moon and the glass went all the way up, too.

This is all still me, intuitively seeking God. The Holy Spirit had drawn me sooo close. In retrospect, the clarity with which I see the Gospel laid out in what I thought was an afternoon’s art project to lass the time is stunning. All the while I had been attempting to get into the kingdom of my own efforts. I “studied maps.” But man-made philosophy won’t tell the seeker how to get on the narrow way. I flew and flew, traveling the world. All that did was alert me to the fact that there is a God, but brought me no closer to my own repentance. The “freedom” I thought I’d had was simply my own sins piling up, trapping me like a fly in a jar. I simply could not get there on my own efforts. This was where I ended the story:

She flew round and round and soon realized that though the while time she thought she was free, she was trapped in a jar. She looked up and there was no top on the jar, but it was a long way up. She tried three times, but she could not get out. She didn’t know what to do. So she curled up on the bottom of the jar and cried.

In the little booklet I’d made, though I ended the written part of the story with being trapped in a glass jar with no lid on it, I left a good many blank pages after that last scene. I knew there was more to come. The story would continue. I refused to believe that my story ended in despair, and make no mistake, I was in total despair.

But God wasn’t done with me. He brought me to the end of myself before I could realize that He and only He could save me from this terrible despair. In the jar, there was only me and despair. I had to face it. The despair was caused by my sin. Only at the end of myself would He give me entry into the Kingdom.

Getting back to Ecclesiastes.

“I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” (Ecc 3:14).

GOD HAS DONE IT. All the information in the world would not save me. GOD HAS DONE IT so I cannot boast. He lifted me from my sins and set me into eternity, my heart finally matching with the secret reality I knew was there but could not get to on my own. Only IN eternity can I discover what God has designed: redemption glory through the Son Jesus.

I called out to Him and I was saved. And you know what? I stopped chronicling. God has done it! All the chronicles of everything from the beginning to the end is already in the finest chronicle of all: the Bible.

Salvation did come, thanks to His grace, not my works nor my efforts. His grace lifted me from the bondage of the glass jar, lifted me right out of my sins and I knew, KNEW, that nothing I could have ever done would have lifted me. As a matter of fact, the harder I tried, the lower I went. Only despair awaits even the most earnest and diligent seeker, until repentance comes. He did it.

You see, though we seek eternity, too many people want it on their own terms. Or in their own time. Or in their own way. That was me. Everything I did was futile until I understood what the Kingdom stood for: a righteousness that reflects the glory of the Son.

The Son is love, and love lifted me.