“Affliction may be lasting,
but it is not everlasting;
a sting, but with a wing;
sorrow shall soon fly away.”
Hi, friends. I’ve been thinking about this laconic reminder, written for those who wonder if the storm you’re weathering is ever going to relent. From the pen of Thomas Watson (1652), it has captured my imagination — to know the Father’s providence established that any testing in the lives of His children will be bounded by time. Now and again, hearing truth we believe expressed in a fresh new way animates our hearts to trust Him through the waiting.
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
If you’ve joined previous conversations here at Readplenish, an underlying theme soon becomes apparent — our need to take the long view of life, especially while walking and working through the hard stuff. On a personal note, this truth has been transformative. Not only is it biblical and therefore good on every level, all along the way it has proven grounding, “… a hope, as an anchor for the soul.” (Heb. 6:19) And while a broad brush stroke is rarely an accurate way to paint anything, this long view can be a very pragmatic lens, effectually filtering out both cynicism and sentimentality.
That being said, the other side of the coin is also worth exploring. For lack of a better way to say this, I’ve adopted a common phrase from the world of horticulture — living seasonally. Fully inhabiting the present. Allowing the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, and the harvest of autumn to sustain us through the long cold nights of winter. The ancient poetry of Ecclesiastes can hardly be improved upon: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to grieve, a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:1,4). However, regardless of the season in life, we can know with absolute certainty: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23) Continue reading
“We mistakenly look for tokens of God’s
love in happiness. We should instead
look for them in his faithful and
persistent work to conform us to Christ.”*
How like us to often confuse what is easy with what is best; to settle for crumbs of fleeting felicity when we can instead feast at His table and, like Mary, sit at His feet choosing the “main course” (Luke 10:42, MSG), “the good part” (NASB). But choosing the good part isn’t always a smooth path and our human bent naturally pulls away from embracing discipline or obedience or trust when it comes at the price of our happiness. We are, after all, inclined to look for time saving, pain avoiding ways to do just about everything (spoken as someone who, when given the choice, is all about simplicity). But I’m learning that, while this approach serves so well to effectively expedite a myriad of temporal tasks, in the holy work of heart work, there are no shortcuts, no alternate routes. It’s a lifelong journey, and often one that uncomfortably stretches us and asks that we take the long view of things.
“And from my smitten heart
two wonders I confess;
the wonder of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.”
Sitting in church listening to the beautiful hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”, I couldn’t get past this one line. No doubt, many find this lyric to be harsh at best. “… my unworthiness”? Did the writer really mean to sound so severe? Ms. Clephane, you’re bringing us down!
RC Sproul helps us understand why this lyric presents such a disconnect in a day when fallen human nature is celebrated and our prideful disobedience placated to unimaginable lengths. He wrote: “Without God man has no reference point to define himself. 20th century philosophy manifests the chaos of man seeking to understand himself as a creature with dignity while having no reference point for that dignity.” And so, the language of this old hymn seems jarring to contemporary sensibilities and twenty-first century self-awareness and empowerment. But, perhaps the unvarnished words of this hymn should give us pause.
Good morning, friends! From the pen of Thomas Ken, here’s a song for hopeful hearts to sing as we step into a new day. I’ve got to believe our lives will be enriched and our acts of service enlarged when these words mark our devotion, reflect our inclinations, and give rise to worship. Because He is worthy.
Awake, My Soul, And With the Sun
Thomas Ken, 1674
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run
Shake off fluff and joyful rise
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Wake and lift thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal king.
Direct, control, suggest this day
All I do, desire or say
That all my pow’rs with all their might
In thy glory may unite.
Praise God, praise God all creatures here below
Praise God, praise God from whom all blessings flow.
“If it were possible
for me to alter
any part of His plan,
I could only spoil it.”
What an indelible way with words — here, a humble recognition of how utterly inadequate we are when left to our own devices. But, do we really believe it? Honestly, I’m inclined to say its full meaning is most clear to all the “old souls” out there (you know who you are), regardless of age who have walked through enough to personally own this truth. Paraphrasing Farmer’s Insurance – “You know a thing or two because you’ve seen a thing or two!” Right? I think John Newton was probably an old soul too.