In my last post, we looked at a one-sentence prayer from John Owen, chock-full of encouragement and guidance. It’s the kind of food for thought we’re drawn to here at Readplenish. To find a permanent place of rest has been the longing of every human heart since we were driven from the garden (Genesis 3:24) This desire for and promise of rest is a theme whose thread runs unbroken through Scripture, stitching its way along exile and covenant, flood and new beginnings, captivity and exodus, brokenness and restoration, waiting and fulfillment. Sounds like a familiar pattern? You may recognize it as our story too. The cry of of His people throughout millennia has been “Come, Thou long expected Jesus!” We’ve always known He is “the very Sabbath of our souls” (1).
“Be revealed to me as the
only fitting and suitable place of rest
where my soul is truly satisfied.”
/ Part I /
Good morning friends! I can’t think of a more illuminating way to begin a new day than to soak up this prayer from the pen of John Owen and make it our own. What Marie Kondo is to all the unnecessary stuff that clutters our closets and drawers, Owen is to words on a page. His are carefully edited thoughts, leaving us with only the truly important. Here is depth and beauty packed into a single sentence, waiting to be opened up and applied. Let’s dive in!
“Be revealed to me …”
A prevalent blind spot as Christ followers in the twenty-first century is that we often possess a less than humble, teachable heart. We’ve heard so much, read so much, debated so much, and concluded so much that the notion of quietly listening and allowing His word to instruct us can be challenging at times. Acknowledging our childlike dependence on Him to make known and disclose who He is is the best place to start. After all, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2) This also encompasses an experiential knowledge of God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, sovereignty, goodness, trustworthiness, kindness, holiness — all His wonderful attributes — cultivated in times of both blessing and testing.
Ever wonder about the purpose of God’s power? Whether looking out on a world where daily headlines are not for the faint of heart or on a personal level regarding all the broken things in our day to day lives, I suppose most of us have. Christian theology teaches that God isn’t just powerful, but that He is omnipotent — all powerful. He is unlimited in power — He can do anything and all things. But to what end? And to what end in my life?
“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 one that often uncomfortably stretches us and asks that we embrace the long view of things.