Monday, July 28, 2014

A Pleasant Friend to Follow....

I may have said this before, but; throughout the week I attend several services and a Bible study all revolving around the same text for the assigned lectionary reading of the week. This allows me a lot of time to reflect on one specific reading.This past lesson reading was from Ruth. The reading stuck out to me as I also reflected on my last post on Hannah. Like Hannah, Ruth has a message to draw us into, and understand our Lord and His faithfulness as shown to all. 
The words that struck me were the very words my brother and his bride had chosen for the reading for their Wedding. Beginning with the words; “Where you go, I will go...” Ruth makes it known to her mother-in-law that she is ready to deny herself and all she is to take on the identity of another. When I thought about these words and how they apply to my life I found great comfort in them. With an uncertain future and a long road ahead of me, I admit that I don’t always have the conviction of faith like Ruth. I forget that the very one who holds all my tomorrows is the very One who died where I should have died. He was buried where I should have been buried, and has also in the midst of all this given me a future worth living. Recently, I have been contemplating a life very different from what I grew up to know. A life away from family and friends, and in a culture different from what I have always known. While intimidating at first, I came to realize that no matter the difference, change, distance and difficulties for lack of control or knowledge of how things will be, One thing never changes. The one constant in my life allows me to enter into a boat in the midst of a storm. The One who calls the earth into being calms the storms and holds my unseen future in his hands in a way that reminds me that there is a calm in the storm. The calm comes along side of me and says; “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go, where you lodge I will lodge.” When friendless, He is our friend, when barren he fills our arms, when lost he is our way. He proves this in the stories of our past, in the Old testament and in all of history. We need nothing more than the God of Naomi to be our God, to look to the cross and know that death cannot part us from Christ; the God of all the living.  

Ruth 1:16-17
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Manger for Hannah's Drunken Cries.

For a while I have been studying the barren Hannah of 1 Samuel 1 as if it were a story to teach me to be faithful in order to receive God’s blessing. I sometimes thought that if I could pray like Hannah, perhaps God would listen. Maybe I just need to abandon all my pride and pray shamelessly like I’m drunk, and then God will know that I mean business about the things I am praying for. Or maybe, if I promise him my firstborn child He will grant me those desires of my heart. 
Recently I found that Hannah’s story has proven to be a comfort to a dear friend who has experienced two miscarriages in a very short timeframe. This made me think that perhaps it isn’t as much about “me” and my prayers, but us, and our story. I realized that there is beauty when the same story can comfort two women in two very different positions in life. We are both drawn into the same story as we are both drawn into the same cross and as we both have the same story of Salvation. The story of Hannah began to draw more color and meaning when understood as a promise and not a formula. 

If God fills the hungry with good things, how much more strength will he and has he shown with his arm to the barren like Hannah? It may be that the barren may remain barren in this life, but God filled a manger so that the fruits of his salvation might be made known throughout all generations. We bear a promise of salvation and a common story there in. We share in the story of Hannah, Sari, Leah, Rebecca, and Mary even if our prayers for children aren’t granted. While Christ is our ultimate source of healing, life and salvation, we find comfort in these stories knowing that even with an ultimate plan, God still blessed the lives of these women. He was still mindful of them, just as He is with us. So it is in these stories of bareness where we learn to look more to Christ and less to the individual. We then live more with the perspective of drawing close to the cross of Christ and to the manger that Christ entered to fill every void in our lives.  

1 Samuel 1:12-14New King James Version (NKJV

And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.  So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!