Setbacks

Detour, Sign, Warning, Right, Arrow, Roadsign
Pixabay

We are facing a second spike of the Corona virus.   Just as life was beginning to look normal again, whatever that means, we have new lockdown restrictions, which impact our social activities, face to face worship, and our lives more generally. 

It is easy to get discouraged by such things.  Questions like “what now?” rise, and it seems that there is no relief in sight.

But I would like to look at a few individuals in the scripture, that their “improved” lives took backwards turns they might not have expected. 

Joseph in Genesis 37-50 is one of these.  I am not going to look at too many particular verses, but at an overview to make my point.  Joseph, while a younger son, had dreams in which there seemed to be clear prophecy that he was chosen for greatness.  These dreams suggested that he would have authority of his brothers, and in fact over his parents as well.  Things seemed rosy for Joseph.  Later he finds the favour of his father, and he is given a special garment, marking him out as the favourite.  Life was good to be Joseph, then the setback came.  His brothers in a fit of jealousy beat him and sell him into slavery. 

Does he fall into despair at this unexpected turn?  No.  He works hard and wins favour with his master.  He becomes the lead and most trusted servant.  All is good in being Joe again.

But then he comes to the attention of his master’s lustful wife, and being a man of integrity he resists.  False accusations follow and he is thrown into prison.  This time it looks like there is no way out.  Whatever happened to those dreams?  But even there he became favoured.  God remained with him, because he remained with God.  He eventually through more God-centeredness becomes all his dreams predicted, becoming second only to Pharaoh.

There is a lesson in this.  Exodus shows us the same in reverse as well.  God had rescued the Jews with a mighty hand through a series of plagues, and the parting of a sea.  But as soon as the people come up against adversity, they see only the problem, not the solution.  The spies had seen that the Promised Land was good, but all they reported back was the setbacks of walled cities and giants before them.  All except Caleb and Joshua.  They for their part experienced the promise. 

Do we look at situations, and only see what is wrong with them?  Job’s friends and wife were the same.  His blessed life took a detour as well.  But he trusted God, not curse him.  He received all he lost back and more.

The disciples were no different than the people of Exodus , or Job’s friends.   At what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem.   All was looking up. But then came betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death.  The disciples despaired.  The put themselves in a self-imposed lock-down (there’s that word again).  But it wasn’t the end of the story.

Romans 8:28 says it all – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We face the re-emergence new measures.  We see our forward progress, being set back. 

My pastor, back when I was a teenager, told a story about him in college.  He played football.  And in one game, with them trailing by only three points, he received a pass and dodged and weaved his way through the opposition.  Things were looking up, glory was on its way.  Well until he was tackled on the 3 yard line as time ran out.  He was at a Christian university, and as he returned despondent to the bench, his coach asked him a question that changed the course of his life.  He asked, “What does it mean in eternity?”

Our lives may be having setbacks right now, but remember ALL things work together for good!

Padre

Darkest (ABP 15)

Jesus, Altar, Light, Faith, Holy, Christ
Pixabay

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Things seemed hopeless

Things seemed bleak

Years of effort now crowned by defeat

Why had he left his childhood home

To as an itinerant the land to roam?

Just as all seemed filled with success

Betrayal and death left all plans a mess

But now a claim of a thing beyond belief

Made by comrades – while he suffered grief

How can their statements possibly be true?

For he saw the corpse and the burial too?

And as he said he will never believe

Jesus appeared – all his doubts to relieve

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John 20

August Bible Poems #15

I’ll Be Back (ABP 13)*

Public Domain

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Arnold said it on the silver screen

And Douglas M – too in the Philippines

Whether robot or general – the fact remains

That their returns were anticlimactic in the extreme

But there was another – a long time ago

That made that same promise

Before to heaven He did go

And when He returns in the eastern air

No other event will ever compare

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Padre

 

August Bible Poem 13

*Matthew 24

Rainbow Days

Clouds, Rainbow, Meadow, Colorful, Colourful

Our lives are full of joys and loves

Spring flowers and Summer days

Golden leaves of the Fall

And soft snowflakes among which we did play

And remember also there have been storms

As it might feel in this current malaise

But look up and remember that from storms

We find our new rainbow days


Padre

*Image – Pixabay

For H.S. Monroe’s friend

On July 4th

July Fourth – symbolic Declaration Day

In ’76  – for o’er a year – war they did wage

For at least seven more – it would yet rage

Until in Paris – finally independence was agreed

But on this day – hearts still do stir

Freedom’s claim and promise to assure

And let it so be – for all in Liberty’s Land

A bright reality on which to stand

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

Five Haikus on the Theme of Hope

Girl, Lady, Hand, Rosary, Pray, Woman

Pixabay

High Expectations

High expectations
Better things shall surely come
Come the new morning

Glimmerings 
Why do you mope so?
Glimmerings are breaking through
See the bright sunrise

Sweet Dreams

It’s not a dream state
These visions of future bliss
But hope manifest

Divine Promises

Faith that extreme hope
Of Divine promise assured
God’s reward to come

Realising Fresh Beginnings

Those fresh beginnings
We anticipate and yearn
Started yesterday

 

Padre

 

No Need To Fear

Jesus, The Good Shepherd

Pixabay

John 10: 11 states, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  In these words Jesus is speaking symbolically of His relationship with His church, and literally in a prophetic tone of what is shortly to come to pass.

Speaking of the sheep under Jesus’ stewardship, the shepherd-king David reveals five promises that the Good Shepherd makes to us.  These are found in Psalm 23.

The first of these promises is found in verse 1 and 2: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”  The Shepherd promises to provide for our needs.

The second promise is that we will be provided with rest and revival.  Verse three reads, “He restores my soul. . . .”  This leads directly into the third promise: He will guide us and lead the way.  Not only leading the way, but preparing the way.  “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (v 3).”

The fourth promise builds on this even further, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  He will accompany us in the darkest of times and provide us with emotional comfort.

The fifth promise, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” is one of overcoming.  Enemies and evil have no power over us in the presence of our Shepherd.  He, as in verse one, provides for us – our table prepared.  But there is so much more at this point.  We are anointed, and blessed to the overflowing.  Best of all, when our journey through the valleys of danger and the shadow of death is complete, we will find an even better rest than in verse 2, because “we will dwell in His house forever.”

We His sheep need to follow.  We need to stay close to Him, and maintain our relationship.  John 10 continues, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father (vs 14-15).  We need to know our Shepherd, and heed his voice.  When we do, we need to have no fears.

Padre

Based on a sermon outline prepared for me by Dianne on 21 February 2018.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

 

It is midwinter.  The days are short.  It is wet and cold.  Many are rushed about by preparations for the holidays.  Others in what is meant to be a festive season of tidings of good news and joy find being away from friends and family a cause of gloom.  Others are apprehensive of the reunions with ones that they have grown apart from.  It is in short, a “bleak mid-winter” for many.

A very dear sister in Christ wrote to me today and confided in me her depression at this season.  Before continuing, I would like to say that I am not medically trained, nor do I understand all the ins and outs of biochemical responses to situations.  Even my psychological training was limited to family counselling and low level talking therapies.  I can add to that that I am a classic type B personality, and elation and depression are low key in my own life.

That all said, even with this Christmas-tide upon us, and it being the first since Dianne’s passing, I still have no depression.  Yes, the weather and season are dark and drizzly.  Yes, I spend a lot of time physically alone.  But I still have faith in not ever being totally alone.  Jesus said, “I will be with you always,” and I find comfort in that, and my ad hoc conversations with Him are frequent.  I also trust in His promise that Dianne and I are not permanently separated, but we will be reunited in the place Jesus has gone ahead to prepare.

Christina Rossetti’s poem In the Bleak Midwinter reminds us though of the promise of the season.  Despite all of the gloom and social stresses, it is the arrival of Emmanuel which we should cling to.  He came that all concerns could be lifted from us.  He has come to bring us peace.

Some might take exception to such views.  Marx is credited with saying religion, and by implication faith, is the opiate of the masses.  If that is the case, the all I have to say is bring on the spiritual pharmaceuticals!  I want “the peace that exceeds all understanding,” and I wish you find it as well.

 

Padre

“New and Improved”

Tent, Sport, Leisure, Camping, Outdoor Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, New York, Mansion

Back on the 7th of July in the midst of a very severe health crisis, Dianne reflected on 2 Corinthians 5:1-2.  For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling.”  

She noted that “the comparison between the the earthly body, described as a tent, and the heavenly body which is referred to as a building or house.”  She concluded that, “the spiritual body is more substantial and permanent than what we have now and that it will have facets which will amaze us, beyond what we can even imagine or presently believe.”

Padre